Notes from Day Seven: Repent or perish

If society does not renew its commitment to the Christian biblical story, the environment will collapse. The Christian biblical (Cb) story provides a way of seeing that all of human life is lived before a real creator God. And within the story there is a vision for the world that compels people to care for the world. It is our home, but we don't own it. It is God's and we are its stewards.

Getting down to brass tacks, what this means first is that the worldwide Christian community, wherever it is lacking in this understanding, has to do its homework. Secondly, wherever in this world the Cb story has not been presented as the sole source of hope for the world, including the sole source of hope for the future of the planet as a vast ecosystem, Christians had better get busy.

Christians (I include myself among them) had better get busy with this because the alternatives are running out of steam. David Suzuki, who continues to do a fantastic job bringing the plight of the environment to our attention, is losing traction. Al Gore had his place in the sun, but he too has not been able to steer civilization away from the precipice. I'm not sure how much the revelation that he lives in a palatial home hurt his cause, but it certainly did not help.

The leaders of the largest and most powerful economy on the planet can't seem to get their environmental act together. Many of them still appear to believe that the environment is more or less okay, and that even if it is not, the jobs created by an oil-based economy are more important than concerns of the environmental movement. Here in this country, Stephen Harper sends chills through environmental advocates as he jets from country to country promoting Alberta's oil.

But what do I mean by alleging that the Cb account of the world contains a vision that can put us on a hopeful path? This vision is tied to statements in the biblical collection of very old prayers called the Psalms. Those prayers contain statements that reveal the connection between the created world and the Creator. Statements like these two:

God claims the Earth and everything in it,
God claims the World and all who live in it.
He built it on Ocean foundations,
laid it out on River girders.
God's glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds class every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.
(The opening lines of Psalm 24 and 19 respectively, from the translation, The Message. The jacket cover of my edition carries Bono's endorsement, so it can't be all bad.)

The opening chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1 and 2) reveal other arresting aspects of a vision for our world. From the first appearance of human beings, God blessed them to roam freely over the planet and build societies and cultures. The second chapter depicts human beings as co-creators with God (cultivating the soil), partners with him in ordering the created world (naming the animals) and co-celebrants with him (God celebrating the whole creation; humans celebrating sexual love and gender complementarily).

Further along in the biblical narrative, God calls human beings to account for their mistreatment of each other and for laying desolate the lands he gave to some of them.

As long as we do not hold before ourselves a vision of being created by God to whom we are responsible to act as caring stewards of his world, we are sunk. Especially because, in today's world, the ascending alternative is to see ourselves a hopelessly enmeshed in an evolutionenforced program of surviving and acquisition. That alternative is doing its work, suggesting to all of us that we just can't help ourselves from building oversized homes, addicting ourselves to carbon-spewing aircraft and demanding an SUV or two in every driveway.

It is not that, on a biological level, evolution is not a player. But whatever the mechanisms that gave rise to our origins, we are infused with the glory of God that permeates all the creation. Furthermore, we are blessed and commanded to care for this whole crazily beautiful and wonderful home of ours to the very best of our abilities.

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