Sunday, August 7, 2011

She is Beautiful

My love for outdoor activity is coupled with my passion for environmental justice. That being said, here is a powerful reminder of our responsibility and some thoughts shaped by my own beliefs regarding mankind's relationship with our beautiful world:

C.K. Chesterton's view of our relationship with earth has been helpful to me,
"Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity... To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved” [Orthodoxy].

So is this love? Are we trampling out the dancing of our younger sister? Are we neglecting and abusing the fragile ward that has been placed in our care? Sadly, I think the answer is yes. Creation was meant to glorify God and I firmly believe that through exploitation and irresponsible consumption of its resources we are coming into direct opposition with its created purpose. We are tainting creation's praises to our Almighty Father. How sad to think we have damaged something so precious - something we were so lovingly entrusted with. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it" [Gen 2:15].

And while I have mixed feelings on the statement that "she is worth dying for" I have complete respect for those that have sacrificed so much to redeem our world. Exploitation of our earth often goes hand in hand with exploitation of the most needy among us. The rubber industry that began stripping the Amazon of its seemingly endless resources in the early 1900s also led to the torture, enslavement, and overall abuse of the nearby tribes. Dams constructed to outsource electricity to the urban wealthy often divert vital rivers which the indigenous poor depend on leading to the flooding of villages and farmland as well as drought and famine downstream. It is far too easy as Christians to poo-poo environmental issues as political propaganda or liberal ideology, but look closer and you will see the widows, orphans, and poor that Christ charged us to care for at the center of these issues. We are tied to our world, what affects our ecosystem affects us and destruction of creation often disproportionately impacts the neediest among us. Oppression, famine, abuse, neglect, greed, gluttony - these are not synonymous with the kingdom that I have been told to expect and to work for. I believe in a kingdom where the lion will lie down with the lamb, where swords are turned into plowshares, and where creation will no longer groan awaiting freedom from its bondage. And I believe that is worth dying for.

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."  [novelist Arundhati Roy]

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