FRESH. A Christian Discussion Guide

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1 FRESH A Christian Discussion Guide FRESH is an inspiring documentary film that raises important issues about the ways in which our current food system harms the environment, animals, and people and shares examples of people who are creating healthier, environmentally sustainable alternatives. FRESH and GreenFaith are honored to partner together to provide you a platform for a faithbased discussion around food. How we eat determines whether our health and environment are protected or harmed, whether workers are respected or exploited, and whether our local economies are stimulated or depressed. But at its core, eating is an ethical act. The purpose of this discussion guide is to facilitate an ethical and faith-based conversation among Christians about the many issues raised in FRESH. This guide is an offering and is not meant to be exhaustive. We hope you will find it useful and should feel free to modify it to fit your needs. Please note that in addition to this guide, we also have both an Interfaith and Jewish Discussion Guide for FRESH. You can find them, as well as more information about hosting a screening, at Introducing GreenFaith GreenFaith is an interfaith environmental coalition which inspires, equips and mobilizes people of diverse spiritual backgrounds as environmental leaders. Our programs include The GreenFaith Fellowship Program a national education and training program for religious-environmental leaders The GreenFaith Certification Program a national initiative to transform houses of worship into GreenFaith Sanctuaries through a 2-year process The Environmental Justice Program Environmental justice tours and legislative advocacy to reduce pollution in poor communities Curricula and Speaking Engagements Educational curricula for adults and teens, and speaking engagements on the religion-environment connection For information and resources, see 1

2 Guidelines for Discussion Christian discussions about the environment can be exciting, engaging experiences. These discussions can also be challenging, because many people view the environment as a potentially controversial political or economic issue. We therefore recommend that you read or share the following at the beginning of your discussion to establish a positive, respectful and faithful atmosphere for participants. 1. Seek to learn from others. Good discussions enable people to share their own ideas and traditions and ask questions and explore those of others, and growing in faith through this process. Recognize that there is no such thing as a stupid question about someone else s idea. If you don t understand something someone says, ask politely for an explanation. Be willing to explain what your idea or belief means to you. 2. Seek to identify Biblical or theological teachings. Often, we don t know how to connect issues related to the environment to our faith. Many of us have never learned about Biblical teachings on the environment, or what the leaders within our own denomination or tradition have taught on this subject. Use this discussion as a chance to explore and learn about teachings within Christianity on the environment. For a collection of Christian teachings or statements on the environment, see and 3. Seek common ground; recognize differences respectfully. In any discussion, people share many values and common interests. Use your discussion of FRESH as a place to identify these shared values and interests. At the same time, there are legitimate differences between people of genuine faith. Be sensitive to and respectful of these differences. If you follow these guidelines, your discussion should be a rewarding experience. Discussion Questions We recommend the following questions for discussion. Feel free to adapt or modify them to fit your circumstances. 1. Naming the Teachings The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. Genesis 2:15 2

3 Jesus went throughout Galilee, curing every disease and every sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23 Christianity has teachings about the environment and about human health. These teachings have led Christians around the world to create health clinics and hospitals and develop programs to encourage environmental conservation. a. Describe at least one Christian teaching on the subject of the environment. If possible, share a Biblical story or passage that shows the importance of this teaching. b. Describe at least one Christian teaching on the subject of human health. If possible, share a Biblical story or passage that shows the importance of this teaching. 2. What s Wrong? Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel; There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing. Hosea 4:1-3 FRESH shows the ways in which current food systems cause harm to the earth, to animals, and to people. a. What are some of the most painful or jarring images from the film? What bothered you the most, or caused you the greatest discomfort? For people? For animals? For the environment? Why? b. Who is responsible for creating the harmful impacts or systems which FRESH describes? What commercial, governmental, and cultural forces are responsible? c. In what ways does FRESH reveal sinfulness? What sins does it show? Are these sins individual, collective, or both? What can churches do to help their members and communities confront and change the negative influences described in the film? 3. FRESH and Animals And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind. And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:

4 FRESH shows the suffering and harm caused to animals, people, and the environment by factory farms. FRESH also demonstrates the potential healing that results from more humane and sustainable modes of production. a. What are your reactions, emotionally, to FRESH s stories and images of animals? What strikes you most painfully? Most positively? Why? b. What do the Bible and Christianity teach about animals? What are the most important Biblical stories or passages about animals? What moral teachings are supposed to govern our treatment of animals? What does our faith teach us about the value animals hold in God s eyes? c. After seeing FRESH, what changes would you consider in your own consumption of meat? Why? What are the biggest challenges you would face in making those changes? What can be done to remove those challenges? 4. FRESH on Fresh Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19 FRESH makes a powerful argument for the importance of fresh food its nutritional value, its environmental value, and its good taste. a. Describe an experience you ve had with very fresh food fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, or other. What was the experience like? What was the taste like? b. FRESH shows that many people lack access to fresh, healthy food. Do you have access to fresh food? If yes, where do you get your fresh food? If not, what prevents your access? c. Is fresh food a Christian issue? What Christian teachings support the significance of fresh food? 5. FRESH and People Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. Matthew 26:26 FRESH shows how the current food system often treats its workers poorly through low pay, lack of benefits, and dangerous working conditions. FRESH also shows how the current food 4

5 system pressures farmers to act in ways that compromise their integrity, and creates painful circumstances for rural communities in the face of industrial agriculture. FRESH also lifts up numerous examples of people making a positive difference creating a food system that is better for farmers, workers, and communities. FRESH reminds us that eating is a communal act that it builds community while also strengthening our bodies. a. In what ways in which the current food system is bad for its workers? For small farmers? For rural communities? b. Which of the positive examples in FRESH struck you most powerfully? Why? c. What Christian values or virtues do these positive stories exemplify? d. What Christian teachings and rituals involve meals? How do the stories in FRESH relate to these ritual meals? Suggestions for Closing your Discussion We recommend that you invite each person in attendance to offer a brief one-sentence statement about the Bible verse or teaching which means the most to them in relation to the discussion. Then, a member of the group can close with a prayer or blessing, asking for the grace and power of Christ to address the issues raised by FRESH and by the discussion. Think about developing an or contact list of participants. These events can be difficult to organize and lists such as these can be helpful in identifying participants for future events or for making follow-up from this event easier. We hope you enjoy your discussion of FRESH. If you have any questions about this discussion guide, please contact GreenFaith s Fletcher Harper at 5

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