Hi, I'm an MTS student who is taking a course this semester in World Religions & Christianity. One of the topics up for discussion this week centers around a film we saw called "Spirit & Nature" moderated by Bill Moyers. The question that has been placed before the class focuses on "Christianity and Ecology" and I guess specifically, the Christian's understanding of where we stand in relation to the woundedness of the earth and the people's on it. I personally sense a loss of reverence for the immanency of God has led us down this path of irreverance for the created order ...human beings included! Our wonder and awe is GONE and we show it...at least from my vantage point. What are your thoughts? Where do we sit in relation to our view of creation and some other traditions like that of Native Americans or Buddhists?
Posts: 7 | From: Dallas, TX | Registered: Apr 2002
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Freda: Welcome. I especially like the perspective of Richard Rohr and his and Ken Wilber's affirmation of the Great Chain of Being click here: Great Chain of Being
And find some common ground with Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake which you can find links to here: Creation Spirituality
Those are more Catholic type perspectives which seek to better balance the immanent created being with the transcendence of Uncreated Being, though there is no doubt there has been a loss of reverence for the immanency, at times. We affirm both the immanent and transcendent in Catholicism but tend to resolve the issue of balance both/and-ishly with panentheism which is not pantheism.
Other traditions which almost exclusively view being immanently perhaps have remained better in touch with creation and so beautifully express our oneness. My guess is that pure Native American spirituality is very underappreciated in its beauty, in its salvific efficacy, in what it can reveal about truth and beauty and goodness. What they have preserved, we are in the process of recovering, at least, for certainly Francis of Assisi is a shining example of creation spirituality par excellence.
As for where we sit in relation to our view of creation vis a vis Native Indians and Buddhists, there are a lot of ways to ask that question. Whose hermeneutic would make for better stewardship of our resources? Whose stewardship would make for more efficient use and renewal of resources? Whose spirituality best nurtures the human spirit by maintenance of our primal connectedness to primal being and the natural world? Like the Crusades of old, the more recent slaughter of the "pagan" Native American Indians is one of the greatest sins of our Western Church and its regretable imperialistic past ---what Christian denominations have most actively gotten involved in mending the breaches and repairing the damage to these brothers and sisters'spiritual heritage? I don't know the answer to that question but am thinking that in answering that question you'll find a more enlightened subpopulation of our Chirstian family whom, touched by their contact with Other, may best be showing us all the way to change to be the best Christians we can be, better than if we had never met these Indians, these Buddhists. Now, few Christians have been in more contact with Buddhist dialogue and Jim & Tyra Arraj also happen to be a most sterling Catholic example of how that interreligious dialogue can change EVERYTHING ones does and how ones does it. Check this out The Treasures of Simple Living:A Family's Search for a Simpler andMore Meaningful Life in the Middle of a Forest Jim and Tyra are no ivory tower, out of touch, sterile theologians, in the living out of their most scholarly approach to spiritual theology, their rubber hits the roads, literally, in the Forest. They would be my Catholic "best example" to offer you in your studies, Freda.
I couldn't more directly dialog but am pleased to point you to better resources than me.
Good luck. Thanks for visiting Shalom. Tell your friends! pax tibi, jb
This page was interesting http://www.media.anglican.com.au/tma/2000/2000_05/tacey.html . A quote follows: "Now you can either say that there is nothing that Christianity and Aboriginality have in common and leave it at that, or else you can go back in our history to when we had something similar, which is the Celtic spirituality where God was very much felt to be part of the local well or the sacredness involved in the local brook or the local valley or the local shrine; there was a sense of the immanence of the sacred which was very strong in Celtic spirituality. So to me the Celtic spirituality is like a bridge upon which we can cross to meet Aboriginal spirituality half way."
Towards nature? Maybe not "gone" and maybe not even reduced all that much, but certainly any lack of awe has greater consequences now due to our ability to have a greater effect on nature in our industrialized society.
Living as many of us do much further from the land I suppose a lesser wonder and awe for nature is inevitable. But even farmers shape the land to their needs. Even hunters and gatherers take what they can and sometimes take so much they drive animals to extinction.
I don't think irreverence for God's creations is anything new. We simply have the ability to damage the landscape much faster - as we do also to repair it.
Science (through technology and industry) has shown that it can usurp parts of nature for humanity's use faster than we've ever done before. But man is also a part of nature as are the termites that litter the plains of Africa with their mounds. Even the elephants themselves turn lush forests into grasslands by deforestation.
I consider man and woman no less important than an elephant. We certainly have the right to expand our presence and change the Earth to suit us. But, it would be wise to develop an enhanced reverence for the Earth and other creatures because mankind alone (apparently) can truly appreciate them and can realize how dependent we are on them. And over-use of the environment is nothing new (see the Mayans possibly) but it would be wise, particularly since we are developing the technologies to do so, to pollute as little as possible. Interestingly, technology, which has been part of the problem, will also be part of the solution.
And while we might appreciate and learn something from the culture of Native Americans and others it will be the culture of the industrialized West, who are immersed in technology (which is not likely to change), who will ultimately be depended upon to find the answers. Thereís no going back to our pre-industrial age.
Posts: 5365 | From: Washington State | Registered: Sep 2001
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Welcome indeed, Freda! You certainly bring up a good topic.
In addition to the thoughts and references from JB and Brad, I'd suggest that one very powerful possibility inherent in Christian theology for deepening appreciation of Nature is the notion of the Cosmic Christ.
In my new book, Here Now in Love, I describe this encounter with Christ in his cosmic aspect as follows: (I think you'll see the implications for a heightened respect for Nature).
---------- . . . the personal, historical Christ is the very one who rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The human Jesus did not go away, but he was certainly radically transformed, living now in a glorified state that preserves his humanity while integrating it fully into divinity. In the prologue to Johnís Gospel and through the teaching of the Church, we learn that Jesus was the incarnation of the Word, or Second Person of the Trinity. It was through this Word that God the Father/Created made all things (Jn. 1: 3). All creation is thus intimately joined with God through the Word, which is the Source of its particular form or nature. In the case of Jesus, the Word gave him his human form as for all humans; Jesus had a human soul as we do, and he still possesses that soul. But he was different from us in that the Word Itself also become incarnate with his conception. The human soul of Jesus and the Word were so indistinguishably joined that it was impossible to separate one from the other: he was not a human being with a divine nature superimposed, but a man who was simultaneously 100% human and 100% divine. We donít fully understand how this works, but through the spiritual journey, something of the same happens to us as well, as our human nature is transformed by grace. In Christís case, this transformation was not necessary, for he was already fully one with the divine.
In his historical human body, the presence of Jesus could be isolated in space and time--as is the case for all of us. We are here, but not there; in one place, but not another. When he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, however, his human soul become fully integrated with the Word with whom it was already united. And where is this Word, one might ask? It is at the heart of all created things as its Source and Center. Its body is the universe and all its parts, and so that is where Jesus can be found as well (Col. 1: 15-17).
What this means, then, is that all of reality is, in fact, sacramental--a symbolic means through which Christ is present to us. It may be more difficult to find him in a tree or a rock than in the bread and wine shared in a vibrant liturgy, but he is nonetheless present to us through all creation. The Churchís sacraments help us to learn to be open to this mystical, cosmic dimension of Christís presence, while our knowing him through Church and Scripture enable us to recognize that it is, indeed, the same presence in creation that we encountered in the other modes. Marvel of marvels, we discover: Jesus is lovingly present to us through everything all the time. We donít have to be in Church or read a Bible to meet him. All we need to is be here now in love, for that is where he is and that is what he is doing.
-------------------- "The Light shines on in darkness . . ." - John 1: 3 - Posts: 7539 | From: Wichita, KS | Registered: Aug 2001
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