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Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith Hardcover – August 6, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451663307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451663303
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A profound, moving treatise on finding God in gardening.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred))

“Fred Bahnson had me at the hairy vetch and crimson clover. He bumped me off the couch and into the garden even before I could finish the book. I’m all for seekers who sit around asking, ‘What does it mean to be fully alive?’ But it’s even better when they stop asking and start doing. Faith, it turns out, is not unlike a hand-cranked spreader. Works on all kinds of soil. Plants where you put it. Amen.” (Rhoda Janzen author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress)

“This book is profoundly, beautifully down to earth, which is almost certainly where we all need to spend more time on a planet in crisis.” (Bill McKibben author of Oil and Honey and Eaarth)

“Fred Bahnson believes that faith is expressed in the work of our hands as well as our minds and hearts, and that in community we can meet the needs of a hungry world. After reading his beautifully written book, I believe these things, too, and see new ways to put my beliefs into action. Soil and Sacrament is about new life—for ourselves, our descendants, and the earth on which we all depend. Read it, let it move you, and shelve it next to Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, and Kathleen Norris.” (Parker J. Palmer author of Healing the Heart of Democracy and A Hidden Wholeness)

Soil and Sacrament is a journey of return toward the founding Christian fact: spiritual life is not divorced from natural life, it is natural life bowing to an extra-natural, life-giving, never-ending miracle.” (David James Duncan author of The Brothers K and The River Why)

“This is a very moving as well as a wonderfully intelligent meditation on what is involved in care for our earth. Fred Bahnson succeeds in showing how our practices of cultivating the environment and producing our food can become an integral part of a ‘gospel for all creation.’ In a culture obsessed with both growth and control, his spiritual insight is a gentle but clear challenge.” (Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury)

“This is a spiritual memoir with real dirt under its fingernails, as deep and gritty and rich as well-tended soil—or Holy Scripture. Fred Bahnson's vision matters, and the work he writes so beautifully and unsentimentally about has the power to change communities. An important and moving book.” (Sara Miles author of Take This Bread and City of God)

“Like Anne Lamott’s spiritual writing, Bahnson’s essays introduce people of deep faith, imprisoned pasts, ticklish humor, and hope-filled vision, farmer/priests being church by feeding the hungry and praying in the dirt.” (Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

Fred Bahnson is a writer, permaculture gardener, and the cofounder and former director of Anathoth Community Garden. The coauthor of Making Peace With the Land, his essays have appeared in Oxford American, Image, The Sun, Christian Science Monitor, and Best American Spiritual Writing 2007. He is the recipient of a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. He lives with his wife and three sons in western North Carolina and is the director of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

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Customer Reviews

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Just re-looking at this book I read about a year ago.
Michelle N. Russell
“Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith” by Fred Bahnson is a unique book which is one of the many things that makes it a great book.
Darian Burns
And the results are so much better than just my ideas.
Cidney Barcellos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lynne on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
SOIL AND SACRAMENT: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith by Fred Bahnson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date published: August 6, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6330-3
Spirituality
Hardcover
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher
Rating: 5

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading SOIL AND SACRAMENT: A SPIRITUAL MEMOIR OF FOOD AND FAITH by Fred Bahnson. The book started slow, so I thought it might be a boring book overall. But I was dead wrong.

SOIL AND SACRAMENT: A SPIRITUAL MEMOIR OF FOOD AND FAITH is a beautiful book of faith, of how one man pursued the calling God placed on his life, to feed the hungry.

I felt an overall peace while reading this book. Truly, there is an anointing here that few may not even recognize.

Bahnson takes the reader on a wonderful journey, beginning first in Chiapas, Mexico as he first tries to seek peace in his life, following his graduation from divinity school. Later, he spends time with monks at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, then moves to a special garden,The Lord's Acre, in North Carolina. From there, he ventures to a place called Africa, then to a ministry called Tierra Nueva, in Washington's lush Skagit Valley. Finally, Banhson finds his way to the Anathoth garden, a ministry of Cedar Grove UMC, where he helps build a community garden. Bahnson says that "Anathoth was not just a hunger relief ministry but a whole new way to be a church." (p. 7)

Bahnson has experienced a life that many can only dream of pursuing. He believes that faith is expressed in working with our hands, our minds and hearts, in caring for the needs of a hungry world, and that this is tantamount to his calling, to feed people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Chaffee VINE VOICE on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Apparently the author and I went to different schools together. Like him, I've gardened seriously on a farm, attended an ivy divinity school, lived in Mexico, participated in prison ministry. But he's written about the experiences of growing food and community, eloquently. His book has much to offer those who are called to this field of endeavor. This calling is not without travail; but Bahnson's wisdom and insights may save many false starts.

Here's a quote (p.129-30): Don't waste time fighting the Empire, or trying to make it a little less evil; opt out. Step around it and go about your business. Grow your own food, for instance. . . . in Jeremiah's words to the exiles: 'Plant gardens and eat what they produce and seek the peace of the city'. . . . there [is] plenty of peace that needs seeking.

An area of additional insight somewhat absent in this volume would be lessons derived from the Community Supported Agriculture movement - but that is not really his topic. He's writing more about relationship than about commercial success. [Thanks to SpeakEasy for the review copy.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darian Burns on January 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
“Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith” by Fred Bahnson is a unique book which is one of the many things that makes it a great book. This book is good for the soul. The book tells of how Bahanson founded Anathoh which was a rich acre of land owned by his church used to grow food for its surrounding area. Due to a lack of understanding which led to disagreement within the church, took his family and began their own farm. Once at his own farm, Bahnson begins to study and investigate the connections between his faith and food. He was surprised to learn that food is not just healthy for the body but for the soul as well. A great and interesting book that is written exceptionally well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Roberts on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I think the chapter on the work of Bob Ekblad and his associates in Washington State is the best Christian writing I have read in the last several years (except Imitation of Christ). I loved the whole attitude and tone of the chapter. It was very refreshing to hear these modern voices sticking up for "sinners and tax collectors" (whom Jesus made a point of dining with) in such a concrete way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rev Heidi on October 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After reading a description of Soil and Sacrament by Fred Bahnson, I was excited to read this book that attempted to look at the connection between faith and land. I was not disappointed. The book was very well written and I looked forward to stealing away time to spend reading this book. I could tell that the author had a true love of the topic by the way he wrote.

The format was a little disjointed going between the four trips the author took and then his time at Anathoth Garden as well as reminiscing about his time in Mexico. But I got a sense of each place and what they had meant to the author and how they had shaped his understanding of faith and food.
I was hoping for more about how his travels and reflections affected his life back home and I was left wondering: what, if any, changes had his travels affected in him, how had his family incorporated what he learned, how was he using what he learned in a particular congregation or faith community that he was a part of, etc.?

Overall, this would be a book I would recommend. Well written, thought provoking, fodder for discussion, worth the time.

Thanks for Speakeasy for the review copy.
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