To avoid the “twin errors of materialism and spiritualism” Christians need to mix it up with the “dirtiness” of this world, Jordan Ballor argues in Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (And Action). The Christian Post recently interviewed Jordan about his new book:
CP: What is “dirt” a metaphor for in the book?
Ballor: It’s a multi-layered metaphor. On one level, it’s just about grit, the things that attend to hard work – sweat, toil and mud – all the things that have to do with what happens when we work hard in this life. On another level, and informed by Christian understandings of sin, it has to do with the fallenness of our natures. The spiritual dirt that comes with original sin and adds up as we actually sin in this world. I use it on at least those two levels in the book to talk about how we can seek to be clean, whether that’s always a good thing, whether we should seek to be dirty in some cases or not.
Obvious from the title, I’m encouraging us to get dirty and that is in the first sense, although understanding that avoiding sin is not always possible. So that is how those two layers of the image of dirt come together.