And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
As part of my continuing study of environmentalism, sort of my blogging celebration of Earth Day and Earth Week, I figure I have got to include something about green spirituality.
I realize this is a touchy subject because whenever a person mixes spirituality and the environment you end up with some sort of Gaia Religion or accusation of being a pantheist. Right now one of the big problems is over the movie Avatar. It seems the Vatican has issues with the positive view of the interconnection of life, and that's a quote from the Globe and Mail.
Others would say the issue is not some sort of renewal of pantheism, but rather that all the world religions realize we can't simply ignore the issues of climate change and that we humans need to reconsider our opinion of the planet and our role in it:
Green religion now applies to generally all religious groups worldwide, though again the biggest challenge is not about whether or not to go green, but putting aside religious differences and joining forces with a common goal to care properly for the planet. In most religions, the belief that a higher being or creator made everything, including us, allowed us to be the caretakers of the planet and use it, is commonplace. However, even within each religion, binding together this concept with green social responsibility and ethics is challenging. For as many religious interpretations that there are, there are equally if not more views on how to incorporate the spiritual side into going green. Ironically, some see such eco friendly spirituality as being a remnant of ancient times and more paganistic religions where planet, plants, rocks and animals were given some small or larger spiritual significance. It is a major barrier that in some ways is one of the main contributors to the issues faced by those seeking green living through their religious beliefs. Worse though, some religious and spiritual people still maintain a hierarchy of which religion is more spiritual, good or environmentally conscious or even has been afforded that right by our creator.
Perhaps the good news that can come with the modern day view of the Planet, is that it is causing people to look again at our place in Creation. I believe we have to reject the view of Deep Ecology which views humans as just a part of creation, and not the best part. In some regards, this view is echoed by Agent Smith of The Matrix who has come to the opinion that humans are nothing more then a virus, and he, representing the machines, the cure.
Part of the problem exists with the view Christianity has had of the Earth and how people view the Christian view. One blog featured this quote:
Man is indeed told in Genesis to have dominion (רדה radah) over the Earth, to subdue (כבש kabash) it. The Hebrew words used can have the sense of crushing, like grapes in a winepress, but also reigning over something, controlling it. Control or reign can of course be benevolent, as well as destructive. E.g. Micah 7:19, in which to subdue (kabash) our sins is a sign of God’s compassion. Leviticus 25:43 ff condemns ruthless dominion (radah). In contrast, 1 Kings 4:24–25 says that Solomon’s dominion (radah) resulted in peace, safety and ‘each man under his own vine and fig tree’. So the type of radah must be decided by context. Since these words were spoken by God into an Edenic situation, before the Fall, it is especially hard to imagine any sort of destructive or ruthless implication to them.
If you consider that comment, and then look to Genesis 2, which is a repeat of the Creation Story but gives another, almost gentler view of the same story.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Instead of dominion, the call is to keep it, to preserve it, if you will. So instead of the mental picture of wanton destruction, the raping and pillaging of the Planet for the sake of the greed of humanity, there is a view of keeping it. In the book of Proverbs, those who care for the environment are viewed as being righteous: A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
So the Biblical view is as head, but not as tyrant. It seems, especially since the Industrial Revolution, the planet has been viewed as a place to exploit for humanity's wealth. When you come to the 20th Century, especially since the end of the Cold War, the rise of greed has increased exponentially that the world has been viewed to exploit. There has been those in the Church who by silence has given approval. Or there has been those who taught, or expressed the opinion that it doesn't matter. So who cares about the environment. With the church stepping out, then there is a void which has been filled.
The idea is this, we are the unique creation of God. That cannot be changed. We because of our status has been given a unique place on the Earth to be ruler, which is different then exploiter. We have been called as stewards of the planet, to take care and keep it, not to abuse it.
With that in mind: