Emmanuel Katongole

Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular p...

Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular projection. Strechted by 102%. Geographic limits of the map: * N: 15.5° N * S: 9° N * W: 6° W * E: 3° E Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @ naturalearthdata.com. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m reading a book by African ethicist Emmanuel Katongole in which he says this about Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of the country he named Burkina Faso, “land of incorruptible.”

In the five years of Sankara’s leadership, through agricultural reforms and mobilization of the population, his country achieved food self-sufficiency, which shows that Sankara’s ‘madness’ was quite sane indeed. Inventing the future requires the audacity to live in the present with energy and visions drawn from the future.

To get a better sense for what this is saying, watch the below video. Food itself becomes a symbol of imperialism in Africa that Sankara and people like him have tried to overcome.

Katongole’s overall point is not specifically about Sankara but about the role of the church as a proclaimer of God’s story that gives imagination and vision and courage to change the terrible heinous narratives that have been lived out in places like Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Upper Volta (later named Burkina Faso). Katongole speaks of the need for lament, memory, story, community of memory, anticipation of a new creation as elements of what the church can do to make a difference in the climate of a country where poverty and oppression exists.

Food Inc.

Eric Schlosser is one of my favorite authors, an investigative journalist who wrote Fast Food Nation. When I read his groundbreaking book, I became more fascinated with the food industry in the world. He and Michael Pollan have co-produced this new documentary that draws from the excellent work of Pollan and Schlosser. I’ve highly recommended the books and do the same for this award-winning documentary.

Throw a pie

Left over ice cream pie from Ashley’s birthday party. Melted but still ice cold. Who wants a pie in the face? Anna sprints to her room and returns with a shower cap. Watch.

Jacob runs camera and commentary, laughs with his mom. My family laughing is music to my ears. For 23 years one of my favorite things in the world is my wife’s laugh.

Crying Indian and Recycling

Do you remember this commercial? If you grew up in the 70s and watched TV, it’s part of your consciousness. But have you really done anything about it either personally or on a large scale? I think our society has done a lot, but we’re also still lagging both on personal and national scales.

I know it’s weird to say this, but recycling and composting is a spiritual discipline for our family. That will make sense to some. For others that are squinting their eyes and cocking their heads, consider this: spiritual disciplines don’t all happen on your rear with a book laid across your lap. In fact, most don’t.

Brother Lawrence found spiritual meaning in the mundane and normal of life. Recycling and composting both helps us reflect on our consumption and also do our part to help tend God’s creation.

Recycling is a hassle that we don’t do for ourselves. We don’t make any money from it. It’s a chore that we all pitch in to do, and we do it for the sake of God’s creation that we are called to tend and restore, not constantly consume.

We have a friend in Nashville who works for a school and encourages recycling by having a company keep bins at the schools and giving part of the profits to the school. She manages the children in the lunchroom to divide all the garbage into categories and gets children and parents to help work Saturdays when the community comes up to recycle.

It was this friend who converted our family to recycling. After composting kitchen scraps and recycling, we typically have two bags of regular trash a week for a family of five and the rest goes into recycling.

Today’s recycling from approximately one month of collecting:

45 pounds of newspaper, magazines

6 pounds of glass (mostly spaghetti/pizza sauce, one jar of Durango, Colorado honey)

5 pounds of plastic (milk jugs, soda, etc.)

15 pounds of cardboard

2 pounds of tin cans

3 pounds of aluminum cans

The bulk of this fills up our van with seats down, about a dozen bags that garbage collectors don’t have to fool with, that stays out of landfills, and that recycle into products and save using new resources.

Are you constantly consuming and throwing away without a care? I used to but will no longer.

Can eating locally be frugal?

I’ve been watching local farms around me and slowly finding ways to buy locally and support sustainable agriculture in Oklahoma. Your state likely has an organization for local growers.

Oklahoma Food Coop

Made in Oklahoma

Have you ever wondered or cared where your food comes from? Do you care if the person who picked your McDonalds tomato was paid so little to do that work that they live below poverty level? Do we just plain eat too much at the cost of other human beings and animals?

In Uganda Jill’s main cookbook was a Doris Janzen Mennonite cookbook called More with less. The problem with eating locally and organically is that it’s expensive. The Mennonites combine the ideas of frugality with locality. They also just came out with a new book about eating in season called Simply in season.

Where does your food come from?

I’m beginning to wonder about the land around us that we could use to grow food rather than grass, such as the acres of grass our church has mowed for decades. Could we plow under some sod and invite our neighbors to help us plant a community garden? In Brooklyn, these teenagers have done just that.

A farm grows in Brooklyn