Seeds for Jubilee Foundation
About the Name & the Philosophy of The Seeds for Jubilee Foundation
As the Bible itself, the Seeds for Jubilee Foundation's contribution to the Journey Conferences' design is, in some important ways, counter-cultural. We seek to foster a truth-seeking culture of grace and generosity, helping quality programming develop at affordable prices.
In a consumer-oriented society, such as America today, that has generally lost sight of the question of sufficiency, it is our desire to help people begin to ask again, "How much is really needed?"
In modeling voluntary, sacrificial sharing, we hope to enkindle the warmth and generosity of a sharing community interested in serving others -- not just ourselves. It is only by the generosity of our presenters and our participants that we are able to honor the desire of many individuals for personal growth. Without this, a high quality conference such as ours would tend to breed elitism, bringing together primarily people of means.
The term "jubilee" refers to a balancing function of the legal code of the Ancient Hebrew society. It serves as a metaphor for the catalytic, balancing, corrective and restorative purpose of The Seeds for Jubilee Foundation. In part, in relation to the current project, it is a recognition that Christianity needs the corrective balancing that the dialogue with the work of Jungian psychology can provide for its ongoing evolution and vice versa.
"Jubilee" related to the theology of Sabbath and is explained well by these excerpts from an article in Sojourner's by Ched Myers*:
"The ecological and social wisdom of the Sabbath year goes beyond the agricultural good sense of letting land lie fallow. Kentucky philosopher-farmer Wendell Berry articulates Sabbath economics in his notion of the "two economies." He believes the all-encompassing and integrated system of nature should be understood as the "Great Economy," upon which human systems ("little economies") by necessity depend. The problem, Berry writes, is that our modern industrial economy, with its managerial penchant for control and its lack of limits, "does not see itself as a little economy; it sees itself as the only economy. It makes itself thus exclusive by the simple expedient of valuing only what it can use—that is, only what it can regard as ‘raw material' to be transformed mechanically into something else.... The industrial economy is based on invasion and pillage of the Great Economy."
"The Sabbath rest commanded for the land and the laborer restores the primacy of the Great Economy, and forces humans to re-adapt to its limits.
"The Deuteronomist goes even further, interpreting the Sabbath year to include debt release (Deuteronomy 15:1-18). This was intended as a hedge against the inevitable tendency of human societies to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few, creating hierarchical classes with the poor at the bottom. In agrarian societies such as biblical Israel (or parts of the Third World today), the cycle of poverty began when a family fell into debt, deepened when it had to sell off its land in order to service the debt, and reached its conclusion when landless peasants could only sell their labor, becoming bond-slaves. Since there were no banks in antiquity, it was larger landowners who acted as creditors—and who foreclosed, adding to their holdings.
"The Sabbath year debt release intends to safeguard both social justice ("there will be no one in need among you") and sound fiscal policy ("creditor nations will not rule over you," Deuteronomy 15:4-6). But anticipating the human tendency toward selfishness, the practical Deuteronomist specifically forbids people from tightening credit in the years immediately prior to the Sabbath remission (15:7-11). The remission applies to debt slaves as well, not only freeing them but demanding that they be sent away with sufficient resources to make it on their own (15:12-17). Whether or not the community will enjoy the blessing of the land is contingent on its fidelity of this Sabbath discipline, which Deuteronomy, like Exodus, grounds in the memory of being liberated from Egyptian slavery (Deuteronomy 15:15; see 5:15).
"THE FULLEST EXPRESSION of Sabbath logic is the Levitical "Jubilee": a comprehensive remission to take place every "Sabbath's Sabbath," or 49th-50th year (Leviticus 25). The Jubilee (named after the jovel, a ram's horn that sounded to herald the remission) aimed to dismantle structures of social-economic inequality by: releasing each community member from debt (Leviticus 25:35-42); returning encumbered or forfeited land to its original owners (25:13, 25-28); freeing slaves (25:47-55). The rationale for this unilateral restructuring of the community's assets was to remind Israel that the land belongs to God (25:23) and that they are an Exodus people who must never return to a system of slavery (25:42).
"The Jubilee was perhaps already prefigured in the "Feast of Weeks" (Shavuot, later the feast of Pentecost), a celebration of the first fruits of the harvest (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:15-25; Deuteronomy 16:9-12):
"Jubilee: 'You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period...gives forty-nine years....And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants' (Leviticus 25:8, 10).
"If Sabbath economics is an unfamiliar notion to North American churches it is not because it is obscure or incidental to the scriptures. Rather, it has been marginalized by interpreters who seek to legitimate the very concentrations of wealth and power that the biblical tradition denounces.
God Speed the Year of Jubilee! by Ched Myers. Sojourners Magazine, May-June 1998 (Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 24-28). Features.*
For an exegetical example of this theology as it applies to Jesus in a New Testament text go to the following link.
Click to view the podcast of the service and slide the bar to 33 minutes into the service.
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