You don't have to read the Bible long before you encounter cultures and lifestyles foreign to you. Some of the most beloved scripture passages include stories of shepherds tending sheep (when was the last time you hung out with sheep?), vintners caring for their vineyards (do most of us really know what that entails?), and farmers sowing and reaping (wait, food doesn't come from the grocery store?). 

Modern believers often resort to skimming over these references, assuming we know "enough," but in doing so we lose some of the deeper implications of the text. After years of skimming, author Margaret Feinberg was no longer satisfied and set out on a journey to gain an up close and personal understanding of the agrarian world people of biblical times knew so intimately. Feinberg's travels gave her a fresh love for God's word, and with the release of her new book Scouting the Divine (Zondervan, 2009), she welcomes readers to join her on her enlightening (and sometimes humorous!) visits with a modern beekeeper, shepherdess, vintner, and farmer.

Crosswalk:  So, tell us a little about Scouting the Divine and what led you to write it?   

Margaret Feinberg: Nearly 10 years ago, I was taking care of my aunt's bed and breakfast in Sitka, Alaska. I asked one of the guests what she did in her free time.  She said she was a shepherdess. I was instantly intrigued. We ended up talking about her flock all morning. I never forgot that conversation. I remember thinking, one day I'm going to write about this.

That was nearly ten years ago. The spring before last I managed to track this woman down and garnered an invitation to spend time with her and her flock. From there I travelled to Nebraska to spend time with a farmer, Southern Colorado to learn from a beekeeper and Napa Valley to spend time with a vintner. With each individual, I asked, 'How do you read this, not a theologian, but in light of what you do everyday?' Their responses change the way I read the Bible.

There are so many gaps between the Bible and our modern world. There's thousands of years, thousands of miles, and a completely different culture. Scouting the Divine is about intentionally reconnecting with that agrarian aspect of Scripture in order to better understand God and His Word.

CW: This probably is going to be kind of hard to answer, but what experience gave you the biggest "aha!" moment?


MF:  One of the most meaningful "aha" moments with the shepherdess was when we first visited her flock. John 10suggests that God is like a shepherd and we're like sheep. Just as a shepherd calls out to his sheep and they hear his voice, so too, God calls out to us and we are to hear His voice and respond.  It's one thing to read that passage, but it's another to stand in a field and watch an entire flock bolt toward their shepherd with only three spoken words, 'Sheep, Sheep, Sheep.' Watching that immediate response... she couldn't even say a free word without having the sheep know and respond. That gives me hope in my own life that I am designed to hear God's voice, even when most days I struggle very much with that reality.

CW:  How did these experiences change the way you read the Bible?