One of the finest pleasures was reading this article by Jenny Price in The Believer. She’s a nature writer. Who lives in Central LA. And her reflections on the genre of nature writing in the midst of the city is just fabulous:
“Is there nature in L.A.?” people typically respond when I say I write about nature in this town. But I have ended up here happily, and [another writer] has just returned, exactly because L.A. has become the finest place in America to think and write about nature.
‘”Soon after I moved to L.A., a woman who ran into my car while it was parked on the USC campus left a note on the back of a receipt for a mango body whip, which she’d purchased at SkinMarket at the Beverly Center mall. What’s a mango body whip? I didn’t know. Skin product? More perverse? I made a trip to the Center, and found out that it’s a mango-infused thick and buttery skin cream.
‘Nature stories abound in such an encounter. Begin with the mangoes. Follow them, and you can tell an intricate set of stories as farm workers harvest mangoes in rural Mexico, and drivers truck them into the L.A. area and into the SkinMarket factory in Simi Valley—just over the L.A. County line—where workers use industrial technologies to turn them into skin butter, and distributors transport them to upscale malls like the Beverly Center, and shoppers cart them away to bathrooms in adjacent Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and to other places throughout the country.
‘Mango body whip stories, in other words, look for and follow the nature we use, and watch it move in and out of the city, to track specifically how we transform natural resources into the mountains of stuff with which we literally build cities and sustain our urban lives.’
If you enjoyed the ‘Christ in the City’ chapter of The Complex Christ, I highly recommend reading the whole essay, and getting hold of the second part in the next issue. And a happy Easter too. It’s only the resurrection, with its robust view of things made new, not destroyed, that enables us to see our urban spaces as places rich with divine hope.