GUEST IN THE GARDEN – April 3 – “Making a Garden out of a Wastelend: A Christian Theological Perspective on Food Justice” with Dr. Emily Holmes

Thanks to those of you who attended the first night of our four-part “Guests in the Garden” speaker series last Wednesday. It was very exciting to have so many of you with us to hear from Richard Underhill about ways we can use our gardens to protect honeybees and native pollinators. If you want to learn more, check out Richard’s blog at Or, stop by to talk with him at the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturday mornings – opening day is this weekend, April 6th!
The schedule for our three remaining speakers is:
Wednesday, April 3 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm
“Making a Garden out of the Wasteland: A Christian Theological Perspective on Food Justice” with Dr. Emily Holmes
Poplar Room (UC 308)
Wednesday, April 10 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm
“Community Gardening in Memphis – Then, Now, and Tomorrow” with GrowMemphis’ Chris Peterson
Poplar Room (UC 308)
Wednesday, April 17 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm
“Sustainable and Edible Landscapes for the Midsouth” with green landscaper Kalki Winter
Bluff Room (UC 304)
This Wednesday, we’ll be joined by Dr. Emily Holmes, a theology professor from Christian Brothers University who teaches a very popular class in the spirituality and ethics of eating. She’s actively involved in the community garden at CBU, and she’s coming to the U of M to discuss what religion has to do with gardening in a city like Memphis – where so many people are unhealthy because they don’t have access to fresh food and where there is so much opportunity for community gardens to take root in our neighborhoods. Not to mention, there seems to be a church on every street corner in this city.
Join us as we hear from Dr. Holmes about what Christianity and other faith traditions have to say about food, social justice, hunger, and food insecurity.
Here is a summary of her presentation and a brief bio:
“Making a Garden out of the Wasteland: A Christian Theological Perspective on Food Justice”
What does religion have to do with community gardening? Religion can provide a narrative that explains our relationship to the land. It supplies ethical motivations for addressing hunger and food insecurity. And it can help us understand the meaning and symbolism of food beyond the value of nutrition. This presentation uses a Christian theological perspective to analyze the problem of food insecurity in Memphis in particular while contributing to the broader goals of justice in the food system. I argue that, for Christians, the ministry of Jesus, the doctrine of the incarnation, and the central ritual of the Eucharistic meal provide constructive ways to think about the meaning of food, the problem of hunger, and the value of growing community gardens in the midst of food deserts. In so doing, I suggest that Christians can contribute a symbolic language to the food movement that conveys the power and meaning of food as they work together with others to make a garden out of the wasteland.
Emily A. Holmes is Associate Professor of Religion at Christian Brothers University. Her research and teaching interests include medieval theology and mysticism, women’s writing practices, the spirituality and ethics of eating, and food justice. She is the author of Flesh Made Word: Medieval Women Mystics, Writing, and the Incarnation (2013), the co-editor of Breathing with Luce Irigaray (2013), and the co-editor of Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion (2011). She is currently at work on a theology of food justice.
Hope to see you all there!

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