Forums Spiritual Theology 3.1: Exercising Radah

  • 3.1: Exercising Radah

     Anonymous updated 11 months ago 14 Members · 43 Posts
  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 1, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    From Lisa Sharon Harper, The Very Good Gospel… “God makes humankind in God’s image and in the same breath calls humanity to exercise dominion” (27) … “Radah (dominion) equalizes power. No one is too low to exercise agency to steward God’s creation. Likewise, no one can add value to his or her soul through the pursuit and exercise of power. We all are equally powerful, and we all are equally vulnerable” (29-30).

    Based on Lisa Sharon Harper’s description of dominion (radah), reflect on a positive as well as a negative example of exercising dominion in the world. What would it look like for you to exercise dominion meaningfully in your life?

    Due: initial post by 11/4 and 2+ follow-up posts by 11/6

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    We’re probably all already too familiar with negative examples of exercising dominion, of people in power to manipulate, control, and dominate. A positive example of exercising dominion is rarer. Perhaps we can define that as someone who acknowledges the weight of their power and influence in the lives of those around them, and seeks to serve others generously and lovingly with that power. I think of my close friend who experienced incredible abuse as a child. She entered law school as an adult with the goal of prosecuting those who enacted the kind of abuse she had suffered. In the middle of law school, she met Jesus. That transformed her vision for her career as a lawyer. She experienced the forgiveness of Christ and now wanted to extend that forgiveness to others. Rather than working as a prosecutor, she started working as a representative for prisoners on death row, fighting even for the lives of those who committed abuse similar to what she experienced. To me, my friend is an example of choosing to wield her power in a loving and (literally) life-giving way, turning away from the option set before her to wield her power for punishment and death.

    In my life, I hope to exercise dominion meaningfully by using the power I have to build a home, a family, and individual life that is hospitable to many. Lately I’ve been meditating on the parable of the mustard seed. The Kingdom of God is like a small seed which grows into a large tree that provides rest for many. I’ve been asking, how might I tend to the seed of the Kingdom of God in small life I have been given, that my life might grow to become more spacious and welcoming, offering rest to everyone I encounter?

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 4, 2020 at 10:20 pm

      Your testimony of the lawyer friend is really encouraging. It seems like she was already exercising dominion in possibly a very positive way, but then meeting Christ made that exercise of her power a thousand times more positive and whole.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 5, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you, Yising! It’s often discouraging to look at all of the “big” things that are happening, and remembering the parable of the mustard seed. Your story is an encouragement.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 9, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you for these reflections, Yising. What a powerful story of the transformation possible when one meets God. I love the expansiveness of this work, how she has found a way to see the humanity of people despised in the eyes of the world. Much of that is warranted, but there is always a bigger reality that we don’t always see. One question that lingers in my mind is how restorative justice might still be reparative.

      I appreciate the model of the mustard tree as a vision for ministry. So many ways in which the tree becomes an image for us to emulate!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        November 9, 2020 at 11:39 pm

        Hello Peter. Can you please clarify something for me? What exactly is “warranted” in your comment? Thanks so much.

        • Anonymous

          Deleted User
          November 10, 2020 at 1:31 pm

          @matthew I can see how the prose is not clear. I meant that the criticism and ire directed toward abusers can be warranted. It’s obviously complicated with many outstanding questions around how to determine guilt, how to hold accountable, whose responsibility is it to extend forgiveness, etc.

          • Anonymous

            Deleted User
            November 11, 2020 at 12:39 am

            Thanks for the clarification Peter.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 9:29 am

    Throughout all of human history, humans have used their God given call to exercise dominion in negative, destructive ways. From colonization of lands and people, forcing them into uniformity of values and lifestyles, and the enslavement of an entire people group based on race, robbing them from their human dignity and God given value, to American police brutalizing individuals and demonstrating their power given by man in racist practices and our treatment and stigmatizing of the unhoused. All of these examples in history and current day practices must be called out and addressed, there must be work done to abolish systems that perpetuate the dehumanization of people and the destruction of our environment. But, I also am challenged to look inward and call out ways in which I actively participate in these systems and how I too actively demonstrate negative examples of exercising dominion in my world.

    Recognizing that systems and societies are made up of individuals, I believe it’s critical that we don’t stop at seeing history truthfully, but we can’t stop there. I can’t allow myself to go unexamined and this is much more challenging than calling out the behaviors of others. When I look inward I immediately think of the ways I may have manipulated people in my life, the way I have had resentment towards the people around me when I have extended my time and energy and emotional capacity to them without anything in return. (I’m very much a 2!!). I also look at my children and how I want to control their behavior and make sure that they APPEAR to be well behaved, instead of loving and embracing who they are and guiding them to who God is inviting them to be. I also think of how I’ve treated my body, demonstrating hate for it and not treating it with the love and kindness our physical bodies need to be nourished and whole. While these demonstrations of dominion might not be as systemically harmful, I do think individual demonstrations of harmful dominion perpetuate systems and societies that are harmful and destructive.

    In many ways, 2020 and the restrictions of COVID have helped illuminate to me ways in which I can exercise dominion in more meaningful ways, although I wouldn’t have used those words to describe what I’ve learned until now. I see myself and our family making decisions with a greater community in mind. We often find ourselves asking “who does this impact and how?”, it’s a much more common aspect of our daily lives. If I can etch this question into my heart and pause to practice it with every decision I make, expanding it’s application to nearly every area of my life, I think I would be closer to practicing the “radah” that God intended.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 4, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      I really like your point about COVID and dominion. When we choose to follow public health guidelines some people mock us as being “sheep” under someone else’s control. However, this is in fact an example of us exercising dominion, by doing what is within our power to do to protect those around us. We’ve been trained to only see power as a top-down, hierarchical thing. It seems like Harper’s point is that power can be used in more loving and communitarian ways, if we choose to do so.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        November 6, 2020 at 12:08 pm

        One of my friends shared this on facebook recently, and I thought it connected well to this topic. The framing in this of “rights” versus “obligations” connects to shifting from the idea of power and authority being top-down to thinking about power as responsibility.

        • Anonymous

          Deleted User
          November 13, 2020 at 11:52 pm

          Thanks for sharing this post, SueAnn, and for adding the helpful language of “rights” versus “obligations”—or, as you say, “responsibilities.” This is a very helpful reframe for me of the word “dominion,” away from so many unhelpful connotations of the word, toward what I take to mean its original intent.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 9, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks, Kate. Excellent, wide-ranging list of negative radah. What a long list, and I have a feeling you could’ve gone on longer. These examples serve as a helpful reminder of the ubiquitous nature of systemic injustice in our world today. And so it takes courage to look inward in the midst of all that you are observing in the world out there. I very much appreciate the question you all are asking: “Who does this impact and how?” It’s a powerful acknowledgment of the radah we all exercise, even when it’s not quite obvious.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    “Exercising dominion as equalizing power” – I keep coming back to my experience parenting. My sons are now 16 and 13 years old, and parenting has been so different than I expected it to be. One of the surprises to me has been the role of power and agency. From my own childhood, it was clear that parents had every last word. And while my parents were benevolent, I felt I had to wrestle any ounce of agency from their well-intended, but nevertheless tight grip. I assumed I would parent similarly. But as I’ve journeyed with my sons, the most magical moments have been when my partner and I have released power and given back to them their God-given agency to choose and be. I’m not talking about a lack of safety or appropriate boundaries here – but I am talking about moments when parental power and child-power has been equalized for the sake of our sons participating in their own becoming.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 4, 2020 at 4:22 pm

      This is such a great example. Parents have a lot of power over children, and they can choose to use it in ways that repress their children or that empower them. So much of what I heard growing up about “biblical” parenting seemed to focus only on taking children’s power away – children should “submit” to their parents, etc. It’s not a coincidence that once children raised in this way are out on their own they often don’t know what to do with all the power they have over their own lives, and can at times make destructive choices. Yet when parents empower their children appropriately as they grow up, they are more equipped to become wise and discerning adults who can exercise power appropriately as well.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        November 5, 2020 at 1:03 am

        My father held the tightest of grips. Then at 18 years old or so I received my freedom. I didn´t really know what to do with it. I made a lot of mistakes. I wish I would have been empowered a little more as a child. Thanks for these thoughts Jessica.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 4, 2020 at 9:03 pm

      Isn’t parenting interesting like that? I have learned so much about my relationship with God and the way He loves me from my relationship with my own children, who are 22, 18, and 17. This past year with my youngest has been so rewarding as I have been able to parent them on my own, working on building a relationship so that they can make their own mistakes but know that they can always come back to me. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 4, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      This really resonated with me, Rachel. My kids are two and six and I realize that sometimes the temptation is to tell them what to do but even at their young ages, they surprise me with how capable they are of making choices for themselves and being true to themselves. My oldest is a born leader and has tremendous confidence, which is something I never had as a kid. When I let go of my own expectations and relinquish some of my parental power to her, she astonishes me every time.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 8, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      I am not a parent, but I used to work as a nanny in college and for the first few years after I graduated, and I remember how big an influence that experience of caring for children had on me and my relationship with God. I started to see the parallels between the desire to protect, but also to nurture and grow, to encourage curiosity and independence and creativity while also setting limits and boundaries. I think temper tantrums were interesting things to navigate, because I wanted the kid to know that just because I set a boundary, it didn’t mean that I didn’t care about them or love them, but I set it because I cared about them and wanted them to be safe, healthy, and flourish. It was important to let the kids try and fail, sometimes, in small ways, or they would not learn, and if I try to do everything for them, or coddle them, then they will never learn to walk, to run, or to make decisions for themselves. If the kids grow up and then are unable to do anything for themselves or make decisions without the approval of an adult, then maybe I have failed in raising them up!

      Raising kids, its messy and imperfect, but I think it teaches us a lot about our relationship with God but also what it means to pastor one another, the nature of power, agency, and control, and that each day is a new opportunity to try, and maybe fail, maybe grow, and that’s okay actually.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 9, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      Maintaining a “tight grip” vs. “releasing power” – so many areas of life, including church ministry, where this is so relevant and important. I especially appreciate how you approach this task as empowering your sons with “their God-given agency.” Beautiful and challenging. Thanks, Rachael!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Harper’s definition of dominion is new to me. In my experience, more progressive Christians tend to shy away from the concept of exercising dominion over the earth found in Genesis because it has been used by more conservative Christians as a justification for exploiting the earth’s resources and being bad stewards of the environment. However, Harper turns this on its head by claiming that dominion “equalizes power.” It reminds me of a distinction that the witch Starhawk makes – there is power-over, which is used to to control and exploit others, and there is power-with, which is used to support and empower others.

    There are countless negative examples of exercising dominion in our world. An apt example is the religious or cult leader who uses their power to manipulate and control others. This is a perversion of dominion which uses people’s desire to be a part of something good – community, charity, self-improvement – and manipulates them to become tools of evil instead. On the other hand, we have the examples of good leaders of faith communities who take people’s desire to be a part of something good and empowers them to be able to do more good together than they could apart. For me one of the important distinctions between these negative and positive uses of dominion is the willingness to share power with others. Exclusively hoarding power goes against Harper’s definition of dominion. I think this is a good lesson for those of us who aspire to be faith leaders and exercise dominion in a good and healthy way – we must always be willing to share power with others.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 9, 2020 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks, Jessica, for these very helpful contrasting visions of leadership. I really resonate with the differences between power-over vs. power-with, as well as hoarding power vs. sharing power. I’m also imagining scenarios where the choice may not be as clear-cut, difficult moments in ministry where to exercise leadership entails a hard choice between one or the other path. It’s a quandary for all of us, and I appreciate how the clear delineation you’ve presented confronts us with the need for wisdom when the path forward is not too clear.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    A friend of mine once asked me, “Ellie, what can I do as a cisgender straight woman to be a better ally to the Trans community?” I think I surprised her when I told her that I didn’t think that it was fair to single out the Trans community.

    “Listen,” I told her. “Listen to our stories, and work for the dignity of ALL humans. Because we are all created to bear the image of God — each and every person, whether we agree with them or not. Whether we understand them or not. Whether or not they make us comfortable. For me to fight for Trans rights while forsaking the rights of my friends who are struggling against racism is just as much an injustice, because it continues the narrative that someone has to be seen as ‘other.'”

    As many of you might be as well, I’m watching the results of the election roll in as I’m typing this, and it gives me pause to think — is our desire to “win” this election actively working towards shalom or is it simply seeking to rebalance the power in our favor? And then what do we do with that power?

    It’s important to note that power comes in different forms. For some, it might mean political power. For others, it might be knowledge. That they have the “corner” on the REAL truth. We’ve seen this play out so many times during the course of this election, let alone during the past four years. And we all have it. I look at the knowledge I am gaining from this program, and it’s hard to not think that I am morally superior to the Evangelical culture because I’ve been enlightened and am now “woke.”

    That’s why I think it’s vitally important to continue looking at power through the lens of Shalom, and to ask ourselves how we are either working towards Shalom on this earth or against it.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 4, 2020 at 9:35 pm

      Thank you so much for this, Ellie. I almost asked you during the cohort meeting how we can best be supportive allies during this time and it looks like my answer is here. Sometimes I feel like it means a big gesture or loud statement, but I love what you say about listening. I’m going to keep this in mind in the days and weeks ahead.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 9, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      Power towards shalom – very helpful, as is the reminder that there are different types of power, such as listening. Thanks, Ellie.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 13, 2020 at 11:58 pm

      Many thanks for this reflection, Ellie, and for inviting us to think about the telos of power. When power, or dominion, is directed toward Shalom, it is aligned with God’s intent to entrust humanity with such power. While there can, of course, be questions of who is determining Shalom, and what Shalom looks like, this is a very helpful litmus test for how we’re exercising the responsibility entrusted to us, however much or little that may be. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    Brene Brown gives a similar definition of power in her writing on leadership. She talks about power to/power with v. power over. To me power over can never truly be successful because it relies on fear and division. I think a prime example of this is the ways in which the current administration has created fear of the other in it’s policy along the US-Mexico border. The idea that a physical barrier such as a wall is a solution to a humanitarian issue and the creation of fear through separating families are an example of an absolute abuse of power. In contrast power to/power with is about being aware of your own position and privilege and using that to lift others up and seek input and contributions from all stakeholders. This is much more difficult to accomplish. The most classic example of this to me is the Beatitudes. Turning the common conception of who is blessed and thus has the power on its head was a very important message of Jesus. Jesus truly embodied “power to, power with.”

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 5, 2020 at 1:07 am

      We have discussed “power over” and “power with”, but I´m wondering about “power from under”; the kind of power where we come from underneath, lift up, and serve? Is this kind of power the most Christ-like?

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        November 5, 2020 at 9:42 pm

        I really like that.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 9, 2020 at 9:27 pm

      These different prepositions are all very helpful and thought-provoking. Thank you especially for bringing the Beatitudes into this reflection, Sarah. Jesus really does describe a different kind of power/blessing, doesn’t he? It also occurs to me that this way of exercising power requires much more time and relational work as well.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    Power can look many different ways. I think often times our culture emphasizes that money is power. But we see time and time again, money does not buy happiness. In a way, I think this is what Harper is getting at in her use of Radah. I think there is a lot of power held in happiness. A positive example of this is creating space for the voices of the marginalized to be heard. There is nothing to be gained personally by doing this, we are all already equally powerful. Whether this is in social circles or corporate ventures, providing platforms for different opinions and voices allows power to be seen. Negatively, I think the abuse of dominion is manipulation. Leading others away from truth or seeking personal gain as a result of exercising power. I have seen in my life when I have exercised dominion in the wrong ways, I am actually at my most vulnerable.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 10, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      Yes, the economic dimension of power is important to keep in view.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 4, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Dominion is exercised well when a father works hard to support his kids, and then comes home and listens to them and spends time with them. Dominion is exercised poorly when a sales man takes advantage of a customer. Every person has responsibilities. It might be over people, a garden, a product, or even homework, but those responsibilities are the part of the world that God has given to each person to steward. For me, one way for me to meaningfully exercise dominion is with my creativity. I can use it selfishly, to just please myself, or I can use it to make Wednesday night youth group extra fun for the kids, or I can use it to write about God, and teach people about truth. I can either write a song that is simply entertaining, or I can write a song that might impact someone meaningfully.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 7, 2020 at 8:43 am

      I appreciate how you are creatively thinking about using dominion in a positive way to teach and inspire future generations. To use your spiritual gifts in and along with the power you are holding. I think I need to do a better job identifying and evaluating this in my own life.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 10, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Beautifully put, Eric. It’s so vital that we see the power of creativity, and recognize the influence of artists.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 5, 2020 at 10:27 am

    One of the areas in which I realize I can exercise dominion is the environment. I grew up in an evangelical culture where the environment didn’t matter because the earth was going to be destroyed in the end. I never read the Genesis narrative – and in particular the idea of exercising dominion – as being related to my responsibility to be a good steward of creation. This seems very obvious now. I have the ability to make choices in how I consume the earth’s resources, where I shop, how I think about waste, etc, and that is a way of exercising dominion over creation and being a good steward of the dominion mandate. The idea that we are “all equally powerful” is crucial to how I might think about exercising dominion in relationship to others. I have seen managers abuse their subordinates, political leaders abuse those over whom they rule, and pastors abuse their power over their congregations. I think how we behave when we are in positions of power or stewardship over others says so much about how we understand “Radah”. Do we see “Radah” as the right to exercise power over others, or do we see others as being equal to us and despite our position of authority, treat others as though they have equal worth and value.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 7, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Jeffrey thanks for sharing. I definitely resonate with the lack of environmental awareness. This has been something I have been working into action the last few years and New Years resolutions to reduce my specific carbon footprint. The connection between Radah and responsibility is an important one.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 10, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      I really appreciate how everyone is bringing in so many different dimensions to this discussion. The environment is key and part of the original mandate in Genesis. And so many examples throughout history (in Native American practices, for example) where people lived and worked in mutuality with the environment. I think this is why so many Native Americans had no category for “selling” or “trading” land with European colonists, because they did not conceptualize it as something they possessed in the way Europeans did.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 6, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    Over the summer I participated in this program called “Agro-Living Wellness” which was about connecting with traditional agricultural community by spending two weeks in a rural Hakka village to connect with the local community and to learn about ecology and sustainability. During this time, I had a lot of chance to reflect on human relationship with nature and land. Someone asked me what traditional agriculture in the US looked like, and I told them that it had a very different orientation, that view of dominion was the negative example, one of wielding power over, exercising will, forcing the land to submit to human might, one of extraction and exploitation that was ultimately unsustainable in terms of ecology and labor. I have understood this relationship to land and conquering as a large part of the theology of European Christianity that permeated colonialism.

    One of my close friends and I travelled back to his hometown a few years ago to work on a project he was doing addressing his own ancestry, relationship to, and inheritance of whiteness and we learned about how his white ancestors farmed the land unsustainably, tapping out all the natural water sources, and how this lead to the dust bowl, and the current drought circumstances and poverty of the area. When I was in this Hakka village, I learned from elders how to work smart and efficiently, about organic methods of fertilization, and about tea growing, which is one of the few crops they can grow on their poor mountain soil. There, they live in harmony with the land, trying to give to it and care for it, knowing that in return it will supply them with what they need to survive and flourish. In traditional Chinese philosophy and values—virtue is understood as harmony and balance, whether that is between genders, humans and God, and heaven and earth. In that sense, dominion is understood as mutual dependency, flourishing, serving, and giving. We as humans have a responsibility to the earth, and as we care for it, we are doing the work of heaven, and this was in direct contrast to the brute force attempts to wrestle the earth into dominion in much of American agriculture, which ultimately makes the soil, as well as labor, unsustainable.

    There are many ways for me to exercise dominion in my life, for me, I have spent almost the last ten years trying to understand better how I need community and how my communities need me, this mutual dependency, and how we can live together with the earth, hoping to learn more about sustainable agricultural practices and economy in tangible ways. I invested in learning Chinese better so that I could communicate with and learn from my communities and histories back in Asia, and then studied here, and have been working to connect with programs and peers with similar hopes, visions, and goals which has been a big gift the last two years since I moved to Taiwan.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 7, 2020 at 9:55 am

      It is so cool how you have learned so much about dominion from agriculture, and seeing the difference in how western culture perceives their role in agriculture versus the eastern perspective.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      November 10, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Profoundly moving reflections here on how a posture of mutuality leads to greater sustainability. And it is so fitting that you share the example of language learning, which is an incredibly humbling act of submission to relationality.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 13, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    I struggled with Lisa Sharon Harper’s reading of the doctrine of imago Dei as “exercising dominion” over creation. Not because I disagree with her treatment of the Genesis text, but, perhaps because it 1) feels reductionistic—I want to put so much more in this doctrine than just dominion, some of which she affirms, while also naming that she doesn’t see the text making these connections—and, 2) because the word dominion feels fraught. Can we use this word in a positive way, without some amount of gymnastics?

    I recently head Ellen Davis interpret radah as “to exercise skilled mastery,” amongst all of God’s creatures, and she clarified her understanding of this phrase by pointing out humanity’s unique responsibility of being conscious that all creatures have to eat. In this way, Davis named humanity’s responsibility to treat all of creation with care and concern, in such a way that everybody is well fed. Dominion may fit here, but stewardship also feels very fitting.

    When it comes to negative examples of humanity’s call to exercise dominion in the world, they are many, as others have pointed out. But one that comes to mind is an advertising campaign for a restaurant that I noticed while living in England. Each morning, on my way to the library, I passed by—on the same street—a large, brightly colored window display that read, “Eat Beautiful,” beside which I would regularly see an unhoused man or woman, waking up to start the day. I couldn’t help but contrast this call to “Eat Beautiful” with so many neighbors who may not eat at all. In reflecting on this interpretation of radah, this feels like a clear failure to live into our God-given call.

    Keeping on the restaurant tagline theme, I also
    recall visiting a delicious breakfast spot in Seattle, Portage Bay Café, whose staff
    all wear the same black t-shirts, with the same tagline across the back: “Eat Like
    You Give a Damn.” At least one of the implications of this tagline, as I take
    it, is that the owners of Portage Bay “give a damn” where the food they serve
    comes from, and they’re marketing themselves to guests who also happen to “give
    a damn” about where their food comes from. Beyond aesthetics, to me, this
    suggests a concern for ethical, sustainable, and responsible farming practices,
    for supporting local farmers, and for transporting food in a way that doesn’t
    produce undue harm on the environment. All of this, to me, better aligns with
    God’s call to exercise radah, be it “dominion,” as Harper defines it, or
    “skilled mastery,” as Davis puts it, or perhaps even “stewardship” of the
    creation entrusted to humanity. Being concerned for how our food is produced,
    and making practical choices to support those who share this concern, seems to
    be one way I can meaningfully exercise radah in my life.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    November 19, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    When I consider “Radah”, I can’t help but think about my return to gardening this summer.

    I planted a garden two years ago, but the yield was so low that I didn’t plant last year…and then a girlfriend of mind mentioned her garden and encouraged me to plant something this spring. She suggested that in the midst of this pandemic that it would be good for me to grow something.

    Interestingly, the last time I gardened when I spent loads of money on soils, insecticides and every seed I could lay my hands on—though no one ever mentioned to me that I needed to give the plants plant food in order to garden.


    This time, I gardened from small plants purchased from a local CSA plant sale, bought some decent plant food and fertilizer, watered, weeded…and WAITED AND WATCHED for things to grow…and my nine year old provided ample advice, assistance, joy and jokes as the spring and summer advanced.

    Interestingly, my two plots were nestled under a huge, mature tree in our backyard… meaning that my plots only got a few hours of direct sunlight a day…therefore most things I planted especially tomatoes and okra (yes, we are back to okra) took longer because they needed more sunlight.

    What a profound lesson in dominion—both the headiness of a few plots of my own to tend, manage, protect… and yet the vulnerability that comes by exposing oneself to the hope for cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce…Saying “hello” to the beds each time when I went out…and goodbye when my gardening session was done…. Managing the frustration of having a gorgeous old tree that blocked my garden’s sunlight and making peace with that over time…fears of pests and predators…decimated collard greens that I lamented deeply…the pride of weekly social media posts about your plots bursting with life…and the gratitude for weekly salads, a homegrown cucumber, some leafy greens grown from your own hand.

    I also made sure to leave a few greens outside of my netted plots for the animals that frequented my yard…as a goodwill offering to share some of what I was growing.

    Thus, my lesson of “radah” via gardening is that the garden and the gardener were more mature in the third year than in the first year. I learned that there is no shame from growing from plants and not from seed. I learned that LIKE MOST OF US: consistent feeding, water, pest protection, decent sunlight and kindness goes a long way.


    I think that I was more humble with my garden this year…and felt more like a coach/friend/encourager for baby plants cheering them on to become their best, fullest, self. This year, I was less forceful with my garden, less demanding and less inclined to constantly buy new products to manage my anxiety about the lack of growth.


    Finally, the experience of gardening in 2020 was indeed a kind of “radah” offering a glimpse of what God must experience tending, tugging, tussling, training, tarrying over us on a constant basis hoping that we will bear fruit that will nourish those around us.


    I can’t wait to see what God manifests “radah” in me and my garden in 2021.


    —Nicole




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