Adult Vacation Bible School
August 9th 9 am-4 pm and August 10th| 9:00 a.m.-Noon
Questions?  Contact Kristi Ferguson via email.

Jason Mahn

Gifted! The Eco-Politics of Gratitude

The document is downloaded to your computer.

Theme:  We use the term” gifted” to boast of special talents or a high IQ, usually to get higher wages or a special classroom for excelling students. Yet Christians think of everyone (and all creatures) as gifted and graced in the deepest sense of these terms; together we are called to practice generosity, gratitude, and abundance in a culture of competition, scarcity, and individual merit. Come share your own stories of good and bad gift-giving and gift-receiving and reflect on the radical eco-politics of gratitude.

Our time together will begin with telling stories about the gifts we cherish the most. What makes them so powerful? We’ll also discuss those times that gift-giving goes wrong. Why is it so hard to give and receive with graciousness and gratitude? I’ll then introduce the “gift economy” and consider how it helps Christian make sense of God’s grace and human gratitude.

We’ll also consider two stories in relation to one another—the story of Eden and the gift of every fruit (except one) in Genesis 2 and “The Gift of Strawberries,” as told by Potawatomi author Robin Wall Kimmerer (copies provided in advance). What do these stories tell us about humankind’s relation to the gifts of the earth? How might we learn to delight in, protect, and respond with generosity?

We will also discuss how “gift economies” differ from “commodity economies” insofar as they depend on and deepen relationships. Can people with financial means and those without together build what King called the beloved community, or live into what Christians know as the kingdom of God? To consider one powerful example, I’ll share information about NEST café, a “pay-what-you-can” restaurant in Rock Island, Illinois.

Throughout the sessions, we’ll consider how we might cultivate deeper gratitude and generosity. How does being gifted differ from being privileged?  Can gratitude issue in a radical politics that resists the exploitation of others? (Hint: the answer is yes.)