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Soil and Sacrament

Soil and Sacrament

A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith


Like many seekers of the authentic life, Fred Bahnson sought answers to big questions like What does it mean to follow God? and How should I live my life? But after divinity school at Duke, Bahnson began to find answers not in a pulpit, but at the handle of a plow. After his agrarian conversion, Bahnson started a faith-based community garden in rural North Carolina to help its members grow real food and to feed his own spiritual hunger.

Soil and Sacrament tells the story of how Bahnson and people of faith all over America are re-rooting themselves in the land, reconnecting with their food and each other, and praying with their very lives the prayer of the early Christian monks: “We beg you, make us truly alive.” Through his journeys to four different faith communities—Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, and Jewish—Bahnson explores the con­nections between spiritual nourishment and the way we feed our bodies with the sensitivity, personal knowledge, and insight shared by Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben.

Soil and Sacrament is a book about communion in its deepest sense—an inspiring and joyful meditation on what grows above the earth, beneath it, and inside each one of us.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451663303 | 
  • August 2013
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Fred Bahnson discusses SOIL AND SACRAMENT

Part travelogue, part spiritual quest, Fred Bahnson discusses his book SOIL AND SACRAMENT and of how growing and sharing food pulls us closer to God.

Read an Excerpt

Soil & Sacrament Prologue Cedar Grove, North Carolina—December 2008
Winter is my favorite growing season. Anyone can toss down a few seeds in June and get a crop, but it takes a disciplined hope to garden in the dark of December. And what rewards. After several frosts, plant starches become sugars. Carrots attain the sweet crunch of apples, and kale loses all hint of bitterness. Turnips become so sugary you can eat them raw.

Mid-morning on the first Sunday in Advent, I stood beside the red-roofed... see more

About the Author

Fred Bahnson
Photograph by Ken Abbott

Fred Bahnson

Fred Bahnson is a writer, permaculture gardener, and the cofounder and former director of Anathoth Community Garden. The coauthor of Making Peace With the Land, his essays have appeared in Oxford American, Image, The Sun, Christian Science Monitor, and Best American Spiritual Writing 2007. He is the recipient of a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. He lives with his wife and three sons in western North Carolina and is the director of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.




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