Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 16

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 1 - Finberg & panelists So, Joseph goes on and tells him. Pharaoh says, “That’s coming. We need somebody who’s wise to be able to deal with what’s coming. Joseph, you are the man. Here’s my ring; here are the clothes. You make it work.” So within just a few chapters from the creation, famine hits. Famine is a theme throughout human history. The fact is that it’s littered with starved corpses. Over the thousands of years of history, famine has been more of a state of being than not. Here’s one of the exposures we have very early on of famine, the opposite of abundance. We all need food to survive. Pharaoh knew his kingdom would come crashing down if something wasn’t done and wasn’t done right. So, for me as a public servant, this is one of the first examples of a church-state partnership. Here’s the man listening to God who works with the government to try and make sure people have enough to eat. And he saves his own family because of it, reconciles with his brothers because of it, and it was all sparked because of the famine. Foraging Jesus broke down the whole array of the 613 commandments that the Jews had to follow into two. One of them—buried in Leviticus 19—dealt with foraging or gleaning, as it was called. So in Leviticus 19:9–10: “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien [the immigrant]. I am the LORD your God (Lv 19:9–10). And then, we see that put into practice in Ruth. Ruth, in the second chapter, leaves the land of her birth, an illegal alien—I don’t think she had her papers then—and in order to survive and feed her and her mother-in-law—a widow just as she was—she says, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor” (Ru 2:2). So she does. She goes behind the harvesters to glean. It turns out that it is Boaz. They end up getting married. She becomes the great-grandmother of David. Not bad for an immigrant, all because the biblical safety net was there. God set it up so you wouldn’t starve, if we his people would listen to him. Well, it’s a little different now. The treatment of the poor, the widow, and the immigrant needs to be a little different because we’re not an agricultural society anymore. If somebody walked through a nice neighborhood in Portland and went out back to pick some of the peas, there might be a little issue. So, the folks who’ve fallen through the cracks are standing on the street corners with cardboard signs, or they’re the moms you don’t hear about, but whom some 13