A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing Starhawk. For those of you who don’t know, Starhawk is a highly respected author, global peace and justice activist, and authority on feminist spirituality and goddess worship. She spoke at St. David of Wales Episcopal Church in Portland as part of City Repair’s Village Building Convergence. As the VBC’s token representative of what some call organized religion, I was expected to be scandalized by having Starhawk speak to a standing-room-only crowd in “my” sanctuary. I had been warned that she was an “environmental witch.”
Her talk was about how the principles of permaculture—that is, building human community spaces and structures that reflect ecology of nature—can also be applied to building communities and relationships, not just physical structures and spaces. Start with abundance. Grow where you’re planted. Build from the ground up. Build with intention. Feed what you want to grow. Edges are important. Gifts multiply. And so on. There was nothing Starhawk said that night that I would describe as scandalous. Familiar, perhaps. Even scriptural. But never scandalous, except in the way that Jesus was scandalous.
“Starhawk meets Jesus” is only one chapter in the long, vast story of how it’s true, it’s true, we really are all one. Here are some things I think Starhawk and Jesus and a whole lot of other people of many different faiths believe in:
• To be human is to be called into community.
• To be human is to have the capacity to see the abundance around us, in the web of relationships to which God calls us and in the amazing, overwhelming generosity of creation.
• To grow where we’re planted—“do not go from house to house”—is to find the resources we need to be useful and connected right where we are. There is no place on earth where it is impossible for us to grow.
• To build with intention is to pay attention to purpose, to make a reckoning of our resources and our objectives and to invite God’s purposes into the conversation.
• Edges are important. Gospel-land is at the edges, the edges of society, the edges of acceptable behavior, the edges of health, the edges of resources. This is where God is, and this is where God calls us.
The list goes on and on. As a token representative of “organized religion,” it is hard for me to focus on differences when Starhawk and Jesus have so much in common. Perhaps she’s the one who ought to be scandalized.