A Redemptory Economy
I just decided that might be a good term for what’s been stirring in society. There is a theological meaning for this phrase, but I’m not referring to that (though it has been stirring too, of course). And it doesn’t just refer to making use of things that might be discarded or demolished or recycled. It refers to an attitude that through curiosity, resourcefulness, interest, imagination, and love for the Creation and Creator, we can not only redeem otherwise decaying/discarded objects and buildings, but also the rich connections and experiences, past and present, that their renewal provides. You might imagine a restored pick-up, a tractor, a barn, a downtown building, a house, a lamp, or even a craft. The satisfaction comes even if we’re not the ones doing the work, and the satisfaction is greatest when we’ve also been able to see the un-restored condition. Restoration, with so many meanings, seems to be a nearly universal joy.
This “Redemptory Economy” idea is going to be tricky for me to explain. First, I need to make clear that this is an observation and a sort of proposal about what to call the common thread in the general interest. It’s not about suggesting a plan of action, although I do think it’s a very positive development, because it’s already been happening. As a believer, the words redemption, restoration, renewal, etc. all have deep spiritual meanings. While I obviously acknowledge that the spiritual meanings are the most important, I hesitate to dwell on that parallel here –though I don’t know that I should really. Maybe I just want to avoid attaching a common goal to this idea so people won’t jump to common metaphors along the way. There’s something new going on in our society, since the early 2000’s, and it has to do with repair, restoration, reclaiming, etc. The food movement and general slow movement seem to be a part of the same appetite. Many young and old small-scale farmers are doing “restorative agriculture”. It’s a growing subset of the larger economy, and I believe it’s a very positive development in terms of local economies, stewardship, and even spiritual health (a later post).
While appreciation for technological advances hasn’t changed, there’s this growing crowd learning and loving all kinds of low-tech crafts and joys. It’s that observation that makes me extend the idea beyond various forms of repair and restoration to include skills and knowledge that had fallen out of common usage. I won’t dwell on the probable origins here, except to say that it’s ironic that the “information age” seems to have brought so many people back to some old ways and crafts. That’s not to say that we’re returning to the past in some way, and I wouldn’t suggest that we should. The next post will be about a place I’d like to create, with the help of some like-minded believers, which could be called a Redemptory Development. I think we have a very good start : ).