Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Statement

On 27th January 2008, the Vine & Fig Tree Planters* assembled at the Campbell Military Barracks to plant a grape vine and a fig tree, inviting the military forces to enter into a peaceful and creative response to the complex problems posed by climate change and peak oil by laying down their weapons and picking up shovels. A great diversity of people were present to plant these signs of hope and to gather in silent worship, listening for the groans of
the barren sand which received these hopeful, fecund plants.

Through this action, we invite the military to take assertive action on climate change, to transform themselves into an earth defence force and to utilise their incredible skills and resources to act creatively to build a global security. This planting was moved by the symbolic images of the vine and fig tree; potent
symbols of a sustainable and peaceful alternative future uttered by the Hebrew Prophet Micah (4:4). We hope that this action is an invitation to us all to take up the creative task of a response to climate change which is not threatened but hospitable.

The Vine and Fig Tree Planters is comprised of people inspired by the traditions of the historic peace churches, people committed to committed to the same non-violent spirit which was the impetus of those traditions. (

Friday, December 14, 2007

Vine and Fig Tree Planters: An Invitation

We woke to a sound as distant,

As distant as we are from the earth,

from each other,

from ourselves,

from the Spirit of all life.

A sound audible when the imperial legion of appliances; Plasma TV’s, ipods, computers, mobiles and microwaves that occupies our hearts and imaginations with their pervasive hum,

Gave way to the wildness of what is.

Gave way to the wild melodic stillness of the stars,

the redemption songs of crickets and frogs,

of the wind dancing with a thousand leaves.

Gave way to an untamedness of gratitude and joy at the extravagant givenness of the world,

Exiled in the manufactured milieu of the suburbs, the office, the shopping centres, the media, the market, the institutions which foster escapist spiritualities to accompany the destruction of creation.

An untameness as foreign to us in these places as we are to ourselves.

As alien as we are from our place in, and not above, creation.

Ambushed by worshipful wonder; at the sheer goodness of what is,

of wilderness and its dangerously expectant doxology

we at first could not interpret the tongues of that living which is other than ourselves,

That we presumed silent despite the rocks crying out.

Yet Pentecost has become our own,

We’ve been found with ears to hear that mixed with the symphony of praise from wild animals, undomesticated forests and water ways, a groaning and growing lament.

A lament that we, deaf to the cries of the suffering and numb to the pain that would transform us if only we would stop running, have become:

So fearful,

of the end of oil,

of an unprecedented ecological crisis,

of our world governments spend 14 times the amount of money we need to end absolute poverty on more machines designed solely to take human life.

So we hidden in endless home improvement, ‘reality’ television, over flowing shopping trolleys and an unwavering faith in the market will sort everything out.

Yet some of us have been haunted by a hope that these cries will be answered,

A dream so crazy it is only uttered by prophets:

“God will justly arbitrate between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

Every one will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for God Almighty has spoken.”

This moves us past protest to invitational witness to what one day will flood the earth like the waters of the seas.

So we’ve been moved to enact the heretical orthodoxy of walking in the resurrection, of
embodying the foolishness of the cross, of strage acts offered as signs to wonder. We will witness to the transformation of armouries into Eden; the planting of vine and fig trees at military bases. A concrete sign of our hope. All the members of the base are invited to put down their weapons and join with us in planting these signs of a stable, peaceful, fertile life. As this Planting occurs some will be gathered for worship in silent prayers, others will sing in the hope of a fertile, hospitable order and we hope our hosts will put down weapons to pick up shovels.

These actions are not simply inspired by some timeless ideal nor the simple imitation of an abstract ethic; for In Jesus, God’s dream for creation has become a waking reality.

The cries are being answered, and creation groans for us to witness to have broken into history.

His is a name so safe in the mouth of the preacher promising fire insurance for the afterlife and threatening hell, yet so dangerous when embodied in a people who know that through this messiah who rejects the sword, the transformation of all things has rushed into this moment.

The time has come.

Another world is not just possible, it’s here, in our midst waiting for us to simply change and live into it.

It’s a reality lying in dynamic dormancy in the earth just below the insanity of our current way of life.

It’s an invitation - an invitation to a party where those that come are the right ones to welcome a new world by the way they joyfully live their lives.

This is the dream that became the reality of the early church, of the saints like Francis, Claire, of the Anabaptists, the early Friends and others whom we feel drawn to. This is the open invitation that we are saying ‘yes’ to.

We welcome you to the invitation.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Vine and Fig Tree Planters: A Description

The vine and fig tree are ancient symbols of a fertile, stable, peaceful domestic sufficiency. The Israelite prophet Micah brings this image together with the the image of swords beaten into ploughshares to describe a non-expansionist, non-imperialist society where they shall 'study war no more'. Other prophets speak of people sitting with their neighbour beneath their vine and fig tree and so this symbol reresents an hospitable order.

The Vine and Fig Tree Planters are a group of people inspired by the Christian pacifist tradition, historic peace churches like the Quakers and the Anabaptists and those who call for swords to be beaten into ploughshares. There have been others, in Sweden and the Netherlands, who have been inspired by the potency of the vine and fig tree image and, like them, we seek not to protest but to bear witness to a potent emergent reality.

We seek to bear witness to the possibility of a stable, peaceful order where 'each person shall sit beneath their own vine and fig tree and study war no more'; to an order where each person has access to the resources requisite for the sustenance and ourishing of life from a domestic su-ciency with stability, peace and justice;

We seek to bear witness to a society in which each takes responsibility for their needs and for the assistance of their neighbours, their 'mates', without exploitation of other people and places; to society able to participate in building an international peace and a just distribution of resources.

We seek to bear witness to a society which is gratefully dependent upon sun and soil, with peace, not upon oil and supermarket with war.

We hope for the transformation of the military; for the use of its incredible skillbase and resources for the cultivation of a stable domestic su-cency which has the capacity to be hospitable and generous.

We call for an end to the logic of 'national security' which demands that the nation is forever grasping for scarce resources or is threatened by those eeing for their lives.

We call for a military which becomes a force for creative change:

• A task force for the cultivation of a domestic stability; for the possibility of hospitality and peaceful resettlement of people;
• A task force which will build the domestic infrastructure required for a graceful descent into a lower energy future;
• A task force for the implementation of creative and courageous policies on climate change, the spread of disease, water and other resources;
• A task force for the rebuilding of a stable society with a domestic sufficiency and international cooperation;
• A task force for the assistance of weakened governments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia is an island nation and its national limits must be recognised: Australia cannot feed the world. This nation can, however, prepare, not for war but to feed ourselves without exploitation and generously assist others in crisis to settle and built their own peaceful order wherever it is possible. Australia will be a leader in a peaceful Asia, a pacific Pacific

A stable order must be build NOW, as crisis looms. The eve of trouble will and us ill prepared and unable to act with the creativity which is required of us.

Australia's military is perhaps the organisation most equipt to turn its hand for this task. We call for its personel to take up shovels and other tools of constructive change, laying down their weapons.

The security of Australia will not be derived from armed preparedness for the perceived threats of climate change and peak oil but rather through the cultivation of a stable and peaceful domestic order and a resource aware posture of hospitality and mutual aid to our neighbo urs with awillingness to participate in international cooperation.