Caring for Creation

pollution

“You can print money to bail out a bank, but you can’t print life to bail out a planet.”  – Paul Hawken

The way we see anything tends to reflect the way we see everything. We must be careful of our inner assumptions regarding our place in creation. The Biblical concept of dominion means responsibility and stewardship, never carelessness and cruelty. The responsibility to care for one another, our fellow creatures, and our earthly home calls for wisdom, humility, compassion, grace, and restraint. The final question for all of us will be: what did you do with what you were given?

458d7be445fc9020b7ca4b2bd1c6a092_-of-life-cycle-of-a-human-human-life-cycle-clipart_1575-991

Human life matters due to endowments from our creator, among them the mandate to be caretakers and co-creators. We are tenants, not the landlord, and human life is not the only life that matters to God. Every living thing is known and counted by God. Not even a sparrow falls without God knowing. God’s care and concern extend to everything, but we are endowed with a share in the creator’s inner life, and so we have a special responsibility. To those who are given much, much is required.

not-for-sale-e1409187633970

If we see our fellow creatures and the earth solely as objects placed here by God only for our own personal needs and whims, we will eventually tend to see one another in the same way. This is a dangerous road to go down. If we believe people, places, and things are nothing more than resources and commodities, we (and they) are in big trouble. This is a perversion of our freedom and theirs.

learn_feedlot2_300_1

“Everything both wild and tame has its purpose. All that is created has a spark of the divine in it. Everything flows from the infinite.”  – Sr. Marcina Wiederkehr, OSB

Regarding our fellow creatures: animals are not human beings, and in some cases that is a blessing, but they are also not simply objects or commodities. No aspect of God’s creation is a commodity, although they are gifts that can, at times, aid in our survival and spiritual growth. However, we must be careful not to degrade any aspect of creation to a strictly utilitarian value and function. When we do this, we degrade ourselves and the one who created all things. Neither strictly utilitarian nor sentimental views of animals offer due respect to them, to us, or to the creator.

77 H7N9 Bird Flu Cases Confirmed In China

In Biblical accounts of the garden of Eden, and in accounts of the future peaceable kingdom, there is no competition, killing, or death. God provides. Obviously, these accounts are symbolic of an order of reality that transcends nature as we know it. Just as the Eucharistic meal is a prefiguration of a heavenly communion yet to come, yet we practice it here and now, so the visions of a peaceable kingdom can also be enacted to some degree here and now. Our choices then become a sign and a contradiction to indicate the higher reality already present in the world that is. This is not unreality, it is deeper reality. It is faith, hope, reason, and love. It is caring for creation.

animal-testing-1

God established created things to sustain us in our frailty so that they might become for us sacramental signs of God’s love. What we do with what we’ve been given reflects directly on what we truly believe about the world and its maker. Dominion does not mean diminishment and desecration, it means responsible and compassionate stewardship, showing the same mercy that has been shown to us. There is no excuse for cruelty and mismanagement. Caring for creation is our covenant agreement. How are we doing with that?

article-2142884-00a32e15000004b0-324_470x423_popup

Official Theology

dark-side

I approach official and professional theology with care and caution, having studied it and known it. I even got a degree in it and discoursed with its learned professors, all of whom are fine human beings with good hearts and good minds. But, like anything, theology can be used for good, or ill. Just because it concerns matters of God, it is is not above manipulation to nefarious ends. What I saw, and what I see, is this: official theology can easily help neurotics defend neurosis and power, and reject the legitimate personal experiences of good people not involved in academia or sanctioned religion. Intellect and dogma can be easily used as weapons in a war against those who are not ensconced in the ivory tower of official theology. This is a real danger in any rigorous academic, spiritual, political, or secular discipline. It is not true to the heart and source of theology. With the best of intentions, those who fall into this trap sincerely believe they are helping people and correcting moral errors. The truth is consequently hidden from everyone, including those who claim to possess it. Everybody loses.

…Meanwhile, there is a beautiful sunset over the prairie and the harvest moon rises over a hill among the pines. The moon has no intention to cast its reflection on the pond that has no mind to receive it.

“Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

– Jesus of Nazareth  (Mark 10:15)

This Life

12198279505_c53de0313d_b

In the darkness at night, after my family has gone to sleep, I lie awake and listen. There is a definite peace, stillness, and presence in our home. Our day is done and we rest secure, each of us knowing we are one in the unity of love in God’s care. It is a bond like no other. It gives peace the world of ambition and distraction will never give.

The older I get, the more I treasure, guard, and protect this peace with all that I am. Our faithful dog, in his own way, does the same. He is an example of devotion and courage. He also is often awake at night in the darkness, listening.

I can’t imagine heaven being a better or a different place than this one with my family. If there is an afterlife, I want it to be this life again, redeemed of my mistakes and interference. If heaven is not a communion and reunion of loved ones in the goodness of God’s creation, then count me out.

 

Home

2014-07-27 10.11.48

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

I wonder if they will ever know how much I love and appreciate them, my wife and my son, and even our dogs; the one here now and the ones now gone? It is more than sentiment, security, obligation, or pleasure. It is everything. For me, our family is composed of the same fabric as God, who is Love; that same beautiful song that called everything into being. I wonder, will they ever know? Yet here we are. In all of my restless yearnings and detours, and in all of my mistakes and blind spots never did I (nor could I) imagine God would lead me to this place. I am home.

Non-Violent Resistance

1535211435-af9988ec3d08c30c3d11117eccc23775

In Jesus’ time, being struck with the back of the hand was more an insult than an overt act of violence. It was done to slaves, children, and women. Only the right hand was used. Turning the left cheek to the accuser required them to either relate to you as an equal or break social law. This is non-violent resistance. It requires “a strength of character ready to be tested in the stream of the world.” (Eberhard Arnold)

Remain in the truth even when under attack. Resist evil with love and integrity. Remain holy, just as God is holy. (God cannot be otherwise.) Gandhi did it. MLK did it. Jesus did it. So can you. Losing your composure discredits your cause.

quote-non-violent-resistance-implies-the-very-opposite-of-weakness-defiance-combined-with-mahatma-gandhi-54-51-68

mlk-nonviolence