ISSUE No. 25 | September 2022
If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you! CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND. Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:
What are you cultivating in your life?
What fruit do you want your life to bear?
Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:
Cultivate: Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”
Irrigate: Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation: Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.
Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.
Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living. We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!
For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.
(I Corinthians 3:9)
Our theme this month is THE TABLE AND HUNGER. This is the second of a two-part exploration on the Table. When our Cultivare Team began the process of exploring the topic of the Table we fully expected to do one issue. But, the collection of resources we identified revealed the need to do two related issues – one on Food and one on Hunger. Simply put, many people have access to food. Millions of others do not. We felt it important to look at both sides of Table.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines HUNGER as:
a. A craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient
b. An uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food
c. A weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food
d. A strong desire
These are helpful definitions as we explore two contexts related to hunger – our physical bodies and our spiritual lives. Our bodies experience pain and deterioration when they are deprived of food. Our souls ache when justice is denied, and we feel alone and abandoned.
We live in a complex world consisting of scarcity and abundance, of barriers and accessibility. Public health officials give witness to “twin epidemics” that exist in our culture today – hunger and obesity. The co-existence of the two epidemics raises important questions. Our hope is that this issue sheds illuminating light on questions many of us would prefer to avoid as they often make us uncomfortable.
Our Profile this month celebrates the life and legacy of Ron Sider, a man whose unflinching engagement with biblical truth and cultural reality often made individuals uncomfortable. Our Arts section features the culinary arts and the extraordinary work of Chef Jose Andres and the World Central Kitchen. We highlight a little-known feature film from 1993 along with a 2011 book by farmer Joel Salitin. And we spotlight the very first Nobel Peace Prize winner from the field of agriculture.
Over a century ago President Woodrow Wilson recognized that: No individual can rationally live, worship, or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. A century later, those words still ring true. Our hope is that this issue of Cultivare will not only raise awareness of the reality of hunger in our world but cultivate action in addressing the darkness that surrounds it.
Come ye hearts unto the table
Broken, cheerful, anxious, stout
Eat and laugh for we are able
Here to push the darkness out.
Then Jesus turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be - and experience - a blessing. They won't be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned - oh, how it will be returned! - at the resurrection of God's people." (Luke 14:12-14 MSG)
My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!" - if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. But someone will say, "One person has faith, another has actions." My answer is, "Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions." (James 2:14-18 GNT)
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:37-40 NLT)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will.
(Martin Luther King Jr.)
Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. (Anne Frank)
Jesus’ life and words are a challenge at the same time that they are Good News. They are a challenge to those of us who are poor and oppressed. By His life He is calling us to give ourselves to others, to sacrifice for those who suffer, to share our lives with our brothers and sisters who are also oppressed. He is calling us to “hunger and thirst after justice” in the same way that we hunger and thirst after food and water: that is, by putting our yearning into practice. (Cesar Chavez)
There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness, and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much. (Mother Teresa)
God's Word teaches a very hard, disturbing truth. Those who neglect the poor and the oppressed are really not God's people at all—no matter how frequently they practice their religious rituals nor how orthodox are their creeds and confessions. (Ronald J. Sider)
There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. (Mahatma Gandhi)
We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great. . . . That is the inconsolable heartburn, the lifelong disquietude of having been made in the image of God. (Robert Farrar Capon)
If you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence. (Anonymous)
Artist of the Month
By Bonnie Fearer
Art, when put in the service of communities in need, elevates everyone. As a culinary artist and chef, Jose Andres is a man who has devoted his life to food. Yet he has not limited his artistry to the tony restaurants catering to discriminating foodies; he has taken it to cities around the globe that have been devastated by war, natural disasters, and a pandemic. But first, some background…
Jose Andres was born in Asturias, Spain, where he learned to cook--first from his parents, and then, beginning at age 15, at the Escola de Restauracio I Hostalatge de Barcelona. After graduation, he worked in some of the best restaurants in Europe, ultimately immigrating to the U.S. in 1991, first to New York, and then to Washington, D.C. He quickly found acclaim in the culinary world for his highly innovative Spanish cooking, and his introduction of tapas (or small-bites) cuisine to American restaurants. Andres’ culinary vision was matched with an entrepreneurial spirit, leading to the establishment of numerous restaurants from coast to coast.
In 2010, Jose Andres traveled to Haiti, in the aftermath of its massive earthquake. From this experience, the World Central Kitchen was born. He said, “Cooking alongside displaced Haitians in a camp, I found myself getting schooled in how to cook black beans the way they wanted: mashed and sieved into a creamy sauce. You see, food relief is not just a meal that keeps hunger away. It’s a plate of hope. It tells you in your darkest hour that someone, somewhere, cares about you.”
In the years since its inception, Jose Andres and World Central Kitchen have fed tens of millions of people – in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, in Beirut after it was bombed, in Australia after bushfires displaced thousands, worldwide during the pandemic, and now, their presence in Ukraine and Poland has helped millions more.
Jose Andres has been widely recognized for both his culinary and his humanitarian work, including by the James Beard Foundation – which named him Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2003, as well as Humanitarian of the Year in 2018; TIME magazine, which included him on the list of 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and 2018; and President Obama, who awarded José the National Humanities Medal in 2015. José holds two Michelin stars for his avant-garde tasting counter minibar by José Andrés in Washington, D.C., as well as four Bib Gourmands.
To learn more about Jose Andres, and his work with World Central Kitchen, we recommend the following resources:
1. World Central Kitchen: View Now »
2. 2021 NPR interview: View Now »
3. If you have Hulu, Ron Howard’s 2022 documentary film We Feed People is excellent:
Chef Jose Andres
Canned Food Drive
by Kathleen Lynch
We lived in the lucky world—
not the far place where flies
sipped at eye corners
of children too weak to cry.
A camera showed that world to us
on posters. But we were children.
We wanted most to not be those
others, with their terrible bones.
We spoke of them wide-eyed, with
what we thought was tenderness.
But our words came in a different register,
as if to speak of such betrayal
by the grown world could bring
a harm of great immensity
upon us too. We got to choose
from the cupboard. We gave
what we hated—beets, peas,
mushrooms. Our dreams
were not of rice. The moon
laid light on our bicycles propped
against the porch. Sycamores
became our giants standing guard;
the overgrown shrub, our fort. We thought
we understood what was required.
Even crouched beneath our desks
during drill, we said one prayer
for the fear, one for recess.
McClellan Air Force Base
sent forth big-bellied planes
that rattled the windows
of our houses. Evenings, we took
to the streets shrieking
with joy, rode madly fast
around the block. We collapsed
on the lawn breathless, the earth
cool beneath us & pounding hard,
as if it had one great heart.
As if it was ours.
Dr. Ron Sider
God thundered again and again through the prophets that worship
in the context of mistreatment of the poor and disadvantaged is an outrage.
We celebrate and honor the life of a saint that passed this summer in author, scholar, and theologian Dr. Ron Sider. His life and legacy are a testament to our need to be continually attentive to the evident hunger for justice and righteousness in our world. Author of over 30 books, Sider is perhaps most widely known for publishing his 1977 book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger which continues to be in print today. The book is regarded as one of the Top 100 most influential books in Religion in the twentieth century.
While there is sadness in his passing there is also deep gratitude for his extraordinary life and the ways he modeled humility yet also boldness. Dr. Sider was humble in his life choices, his manner, his attentive listening (to individuals and our culture) yet he was bold in faithfully reminding us and reinforcing for us that God’s heart hungers for justice.
Sider founded Christians for Social Action (formerly Evangelicals for Social Action) in 1978. I was blessed to meet Dr. Sider in 1980 when he and ESA’s Board spent a weekend with our local ESA Chapter in Orange County, CA. I was immediately taken by Dr. Sider’s biblical anchoring, his theological insight, and his humble and gracious demeanor. I was privileged to connect with Dr. Sider again when I attended ESA’s 25th Anniversary celebration at Eastern University in Pennsylvania where Sider also served as Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry, and Public Policy at neighboring Palmer Theological Seminary. In the ensuing years Sider’s insightful and challenging books were instruments God used to keep my heart and mind attentive to the needs of the poor and the work of justice. Here are a few excerpts from Sider’s writing:
It is not because food, clothes, and property are inherently evil that Christians today must lower their standard of living. It is because others are starving. Creation is good. But the one who gave us this gorgeous token of his affection has asked us to share it with our sisters and brothers.
If we fail to feed the needy, we do not have God’s love, no matter what we say. Regardless of what we do or say at 11 am on a Sunday morn, affluent people who neglect the poor are not the people of God.
Advertisers regularly con us into believing that we genuinely need one luxury after another. We are convinced that we must keep up with or even go one better than our neighbors. So, we buy another dress, sports jacket or sports car and thereby force up the standard of living. The ever more affluent standard of living is the god of twentieth century North America and the adman is its prophet.
If you are honest with yourself, how do you react to Sider’s words? Do they resonate with you? Challenge you? Stir you in any way? In 2002 Dr. Ron Sider was featured on the cover of Christianity Today under the title “Unsettling Crusade: Why Does this Man Irritate so Many People?” Sider’s words hold the potential of irritating us out of our comfort, our contentment, our self-sufficiency, our accustomed way of thinking and being. His words often mirror the biblical admonition in the book of James: “Faith without works is dead.” If our view of the Christian faith is solely fixed on personal salvation, James’ words, along with Sider’s, will indeed be a source of irritation. Dr. Ron Sider reminded us, time and time again, that God’s ongoing invitation to us is to adopt a larger and wider world view that is propelled by God’s heart for justice. His life, actions, and words reflected this well. I leave you with four succinct encouragements by Dr. Ron Sider. May they encourage us all. (DG)
Love God and not the things of this world.
Care for the hurting and oppressed.
Glorify God, not yourself.
You may learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Ron Sider by reading the following obituaries:
New York Times: View Now »
Christianity Today: View Now »
Dr. Ron Sider, Eastern University photo
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
The Saint of Fort Washington
If you have not heard of The Saint of Fort Washington, you are not alone. Neither had most of the Cultivare team. This Matt Dillon and Danny Glover film about homelessness was a box office flop, grossing only $135,000 in a limited release. However, it received strong critical acclaim, and holds an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We highlight it here as a conversation piece around the question of how and where do the homeless find their seat at The Table? How are they to fill their hunger for food, safety, friendship, and stability? And what are we missing out on by not being attentive to inviting them to our Tables? Available on various streaming services.
A Place at the Table
This enlightening documentary looks at the relationship between poverty and hunger in America. Specifically, it tackles the direct effect this issue has on children both physically and emotionally. Hunger is a silent problem, which makes it easy to miss, either intentionally or unintentionally. We invite you to consider what the Table looks like for one half of our culture whose children currently live on food subsidies. Available on various streaming services.
Scene From Over the Hedge: Humans live to eat.
In the midst of conversations regarding food insecurity, what about the security many of us find in food? Over the Hedge is an animated movie exploring the tension between self-preservation and communal sacrifice through animals foraging and storing for winter. In this pithy scene, the love and abundance of food in suburbia is described in a way that calls us to consider our Pavlovian enmeshment with food.
Ending Hunger Now
One Billion people today do not know where their next meal is coming from. Let that sink in. That means one in every seven people in the world are plagued by hunger and food insecurity. We highlight this 2011 Ted Talk by Josette Sheeran, at the time the head of the UN’s World Food Program, who explores the variety of issues that influences the global need for food. She suggests “food is one issue that cannot be solved person to person” and identifies solving global hunger as both a compassion issue and a Geo-political financial necessity.
Zombies Are Us
What if zombies represent the appetite divorced from everything else? In this article by Ethan Cordray published in First Things, Cordray spotlights the popularity of zombies in American culture. He defines zombies as “modern brain-hungry, shambling, disgusting, undead-or-plague-infected monsters, not the traditional figures from voodoo culture.” He poses the questions: “What if this fascination [with zombies] is about more than just gross-out gore and action thrills? What if it represents a subtle, subconscious understanding that something is wrong – “spiritually wrong” – with our culture?” Read the article in its entirety at the following link:
Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme
Folks, This Ain’t Normal
by Joel Salitin
Our Book of the Month is Folks, This Ain’t Normal by the author, farmer, and speaker Joel Salatin. In this book Salatin explores the hidden costs of mass production that have harmed our environment by exploiting rather than cooperating with our ecosystem. Salatin is a unique voice—he has described himself as a "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer"—and there are sure to be passages that raise at least one eyebrow. However, his zeal for creating a vision of the ‘good life’ that is not dependent on the goods (or in this case, food) that we consume is undeniable. To get a better idea of how Salatin thinks and why we felt this was a worthy inclusion for this month’s theme, watch his talk titled Can We Feed the World at the following link: View Now »
Sleeping With Bread
by Linn, Linn, and Linn
This is a “sort-of” Children’s book. The authors begin by telling the story of children orphaned by the bombing raids of WWII. Those children who were fortunate enough to land in refugee camps had lost much, and often had experienced starvation. They were so fearful that they couldn't sleep. Someone had the idea of sending each child to bed with a piece of bread to hold. Bread, real food to hold. It was through holding a piece of bread that the children could finally sleep because they knew that they would wake up and have something to eat in the morning.
With that historical story as context, the book uses the story as a metaphor for the spiritual bread of our daily lives. It offers readers an introduction to the Ignatian practice of the Examen: a time before bed in which one can explore the events of the day in order to find moments of consolation (blessing) or desolation (burden). Over time, the practice can refine our awareness such that we can spend more of our waking hours on consolations, while minimizing activities that we find to be desolations. While it is formatted as a children’s book, this would be a useful introduction to the Examen for any age.
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions about your view of the Table and Hunger:
a. When have I been truly hungry?
b. What did it mean to have my hunger satisfied?
c. How do I feel when I see the needs of others around me?
d. How do I use my table for God’s kingdom purposes?
e. What is one way I might make a difference in the hunger of one person today?
f. What do I hunger for spiritually? What steps can I take to address that hunger?
2. THE IMPACT OF ONE PERSON: NORMAN BOULAUG
How do you reward a scientist who creates a disease resistant dwarf stock of wheat that helps feed the world? How about a Nobel Peace Prize and a Congressional Medal of Honor, for starters. Boulaug has done more to make food available than probably any other human being and yet very few of us have ever heard of him. Take ten minutes and become familiar with him.
a. The Nobel Prize website: View Now »
b. World Food Prize website: View Now »
3. AN INTRODUCTION TO FOOD INSECURITY
We encourage you to read the following article for a clearer understanding of what Food Insecurity is. View Now »
4. BREAD AND WATER - Vince Gill
A moving tribute from singer Vince Gil as he reflects upon the life of his brother and others who find themselves looking for a way to join the Table. View Now »
5. PRAYER: Sharing the Loaves and Fishes
Sharing the loaves and fishes,
You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.
Sharing yourself in the bread and wine,
You called all to the table, O Lord.
Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
And the healing of this world.
Nourish me with your Grace,
So I may work with joy to serve your children.
Open my eyes and my heart
To recognize those in poverty
And increase my awareness
Of the structures and systems
That need to be changed
So we may all break bread together.
In your name we pray for the end of hunger.
From Education for Justice
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)
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Images used in order of appearance:
1. FIELD: Leonardo da Vinci, The Long Table, Undated, Found on the wall of the dining room in the refectory of theformer Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
2. SEEDS: Jacob Lawrence, They Were Very Poor, 1940-41, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY.
3. ART: Valentina Monakhova, A Midday in Urgut, 1957.
4. POETRY: Horace Pippin, Table and Two Chairs, 1946, The MET, New York City, NY.
5. PROFILE: Fritz Eichenberg, The Christ of the Breadline, 1951.
6. FILM: Diego Velazquez, Two Young Men Eating at a Humble Table, 1622, Apsley House (Wellington Museum), London, UK.
7. ESSAY: Edward Hopper, Sunlight in a Cafeteria, 1958, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
8. BOOKS: Pablo Picasso, Bread and Fruit Dish on a Table, 1909, Kuntsmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
9. DIG DEEPER: Andrew Wyeth, Witching Hour, 1977, https://andrewwyeth.com/
10. ROOTED: Salvador Dali, The Sacrament of the Last Supper, 1955, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Elizabeth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Bonnie Fearer, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Nick Kinnier, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)