I am happy to welcome William Guerrant to my blog. He agreed to answer some questions about his new book Organic Wesley: A Christian Perspective on Food, Farming, and Faith. I read it and am excited to get the word out to my readers. John Wesley was committed to holistic health and was ahead of his 18th century context in terms of understanding the importance of eating properly as a means of maximizing one's missional impact. Bill Guerrant's work based on his thesis research at Asbury Seminary enlarges our knowledge of the topic and informs us on how to live more consciously as God's people.
Bill, what were your goals in writing Organic Wesley?
I hope the book helps introduce a Wesleyan food ethic into the vibrant and ongoing cultural conversation we are having about food these days. I am convinced that there is a food ethic within our Christian tradition, and specifically within our Wesleyan heritage, that speaks powerfully into the broken food culture of our time. My modest goal is to contribute to making the world a better place.
Who is the audience that you hope to reach?
Whatever its shortcomings, I am reasonably confident that those who are interested in both Wesleyan teaching and food ethics will find the book interesting. My hope is that it will be interesting to people who have an interest in either of those subjects.
How did you become interested in organic food?
I became aware of the phenomenon I call the "food movement" first through the influence of my wife. She began studying our industrial food system after contracting a food-borne illness and she passed along to me what she was discovering. I soon joined her in the journey that led ultimately to our relocating from Florida to our farm in Virginia, where we are now full-time farmers, devoted to being a part of improving our food system.
What do you wish that every person knew about the intersection of Wesleyan theology and food/health?
The principal themes that motivate those in today's food movement--a preference for nutritious whole foods, ethically-produced and eaten in moderation--were once central to Wesleyan thought and teaching. You might say that for Wesleyans, today's "food movement" is part of our ecclesiological DNA. When we make our food choices consistently with the Wesleyan ethic, we are contributing to God's restoration and redemption of all of creation.
How do you hope to contribute to the ongoing mission of God through your work?
I would love to see Wesleyans at the forefront of today's food movement, advocating for a just, humane and benevolent food system. I believe, with Wesley, that good food is one of God's greatest gifts to humanity and that every time we make a choice of what to eat we have the opportunity to further God's Kingdom or to impede it.
Maybe the best answer I can give to this question is just to quote the last few paragraphs of the book:
"For most of us it will be easy to imagine the benefits that will come from eating better. We may imagine losing weight and feeling better, we may imagine becoming healthy enough to no longer need as many medications, and we may imagine longer, more fulfilling lives for ourselves and our families. Of course these are all excellent reasons for choosing to eat a healthier diet. But the Wesleyan vision is grander than that.
Imagine a world in which all of humanity eats only ethically-produced nutritious food, in moderation. In such a world there would be less sickness, less disease, no gluttony, and a population living long, healthy lives. Farm animals would be raised naturally and compassionately, being afforded the respect they deserve as beloved creatures of God. There would be no exploitation of farm workers and farmers. The land would be treated gently and respectfully, with farming practices that ensure a sustainable, resilient, regenerative future. There would be robust and vibrant community-based food economies.
In such a world, the food system would be a part of God’s renewal and restoration of creation, rather than an impediment to it.
May it be so.
Let our next meal, and all those that follow it, be a part of bringing that vision to reality."
Tell us about study that accompanies Organic Wesley? What does the DVD content add to the book?
We filmed one video lesson for each of the ten chapters in the book. The videos summarize the content in each chapter and I hope folks will find them engaging. They will be great for group studies, preferably in conjunction with the book, but capable of standing alone without it. Most of the videos were filmed on our farm and the Seedbed team has done an excellent job of production.
What is the best way for people to get in touch with you or learn more about Organic Wesley?
Seedbed has a webpage devoted to the book and that's the best place to start. There is a good synopsis of the book there, as well as some of the endorsements the book has received. Seedbed offers a free download of Chapter One as well as a free viewing of the first video lesson, and they can be accessed on that page as well. Check it out!