Author and speaker Margaret Feinberg visited Belmont this week as part of the annual spiritual emphasis week known as EMERGE, an event sponsored by University Ministries to encourage the campus community to reflect, refocus and renew at the start of the new academic year.
Feinberg, writer of such popular books as The Sacred Echo and The Organic God, spoke to students, faculty and staff primarily from her 2009 work, Scouting the Divine, which considers how ancient livelihoods illuminate meaningful Christian truths. During her first talk on Monday, Feinberg recounted how conversations with a shepherdess opened her eyes to ways to rediscover the Bible, bringing fresh insights to seemingly familiar passages.
“How have I listened to so many sermons and no one has told me these things?” she asked. “My search became a book called Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey… I want to share gems I’ve discovered. The Bible is written in an agrarian context, but I’m so disconnected from that in the modern world.”
Her exploration led to Nebraska where she spoke with a farmer about the awareness of seasons and the excitement of harvest. She also learned about the importance of planting in straight rows, as a tractor’s slight swerve during planting can cause seedlings to fight for nutrients and sunlight. The knowledge brought new understanding of Luke 9:62 (“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”) and the concept of fixing our eyes upon Jesus.
Feinberg examined the parallels in her own life when, as a freshman in college, she was distracted by what she called the three Bs: “boys, beer and Ben and Jerry’s.” A summer conference helped her refocus on her faith, but she later struggled with a career path. In each instance, she recounted the importance of fixing her eyes on Jesus, a point she hoped to drive home with students during EMERGE.
“As we begin this week together, I hope you will look into your own life and look at what is distracting you.”
At other gatherings this week, Feinberg planned to speak on lessons learned from a beekeeper, a shepherdess and a vintner. Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive and Extraordinary Women. Her books and Bible studies have sold over 600,000 copies and received critical acclaim and extensive national media coverage from CNN, the Associated Press, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and many others. A Colorado resident, she was recently named one of the 30 Voices who will help lead the church in the next decade by Charisma magazine and one of the ’40 Under 40’ who will shape Christian publishing by Christian Retailing magazine.