Environmental Theology…

The past week of my grad school studies has included a brief glance at environmental theology. As Christians, we ought to have a theology for every area of life…an understanding of how God is present in and sustains every area of our lives. We read a selection from Wendell Berry (one of my favorite writers) and below you’ll find my post for the week. Thought it might spark some thought/reflection and I really enjoyed writing it.

The assignment: List 4-5 areas that you believe the Christian community needs to take on to deal with environmental issues (based out of our reading, which you can read for yourself here).

My suggestions:

We need to do more teaching on the difference between stewardship and subduing (the earth is still God’s, not ours). I think this is the biggest discrepancy between the camp that believes in creation care and the camp that believes in unlimited use. A big part of the problem here is that a lot of this is taught subliminally and so people come to believe in subduing without ever considering other options.

A second area would be teaching more about creation as a gift and then engaging people in a discussion about how we use gifts that we’re given. Surely we use them…sitting them on the fireplace mantle and never touching them isn’t correct (unless, I suppose, it’s a picture frame ;), but we wouldn’t abuse a gift, wearing it down to nothing, particularly in the presence of the giver.

Third, I think the church needs to spend more time considering how the mystery of creation is a reflection of the mystery of our Creator. We need to spend more time getting lost in the wilderness, away from our urban jungles. It doesn’t take much time in the middle of nowhere to realize your size and the limits of your power. It doesn’t take much time to get totally caught up in the impossibility of creation. It doesn’t take much time to be humbled.

Fourth, we need to reestablish the heroism of the ordinary. Christians (like myself) who don’t practice liturgy are often most prone to forgetting the power of the ordinary. While the highlights of the Christian calendar are on special events, the bulk of the Christian calendar is found in ordinary time, and it’s in this ordinary time where we work out our faith with reverence and humility. A respect of the ordinary would result in a greater respect for creation, an understanding that even ordinary creation is quite extraordinary.

Finally, we need to be better (localized) neighbors. In our “flat world”, we forget the importance of real face time (not app-based face time) and that these relationships are integral to the way we were created. An understanding and commitment to our neighbor would disallow us from so blatantly spewing out pollution in all of its forms.


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