Continuous Conversion: Religion in Dialogue with Agriculture

This reflection is directed to the agricultural leader who, by position or persuasion, influences others to think or behave in a certain way within our modern agri-food system. Although we touched on some types of agricultural practices, we were looking far beyond any technical solution which agricultural science or knowledge could offer to solve the serious problems of food production in a finite world. The offering of religion is to hold a moral compass for humanity and sound a continual call to charity. Our natural lives are nourished by our daily bread, but to live fully we are called to “to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well”? (LS §200)

You, agricultural leaders, can show the way to this fuller life by imagining a future of “right relationships” in our social, economic and ecological interactions. For those who believe in the Way and the Truth, you no doubt feel challenged to live in a way consonant with your faith, especially when economic and structural forces press you to contradict your religious beliefs. When you incorporate spirituality into your leadership, there is the hope you will cause others to seek their true selves and foster a greater sense of meaning and significance in “tilling and keeping” the earth.

So we ask agricultural leaders to stay in dialogue with the Church and with their religion. Your endeavors to apply spiritual values and principles into your work demonstrates a genuine concern for the farmer as more than replaceable labor, the human family as more than consumers and the Earth as more than exploitable resources. Spiritual leadership tries to assist others in finding meaning in their work by addressing fundamental questions such as:

  • What are our values and ethical principles?
  • Is our work worthy?
  • What is our greater purpose?
  • What will be our legacy?

We can take heart in the fact that the majority of people around the world profess to be believers. This should encourage the agricultural leader who might also believe that the world’s religions can continue in dialogue with the agricultural world for the sake defending the poor, building solid networks of respect and fraternity, and protecting nature. “The gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which demands patience, self-discipline and generosity” (LS §201).

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