Saturday, March 05, 2005

Another Point of View ...

... for Your Consideration

How odd! After writing yesterday's piece, Christianity and Environmentalism, I came across the following passage in my bedtime reading. It doesn't necessarily align with my view, but it is so synchronous with my labours of yesterday that I wish to share it with you for your consideration. It is from Sue Monk Kidd's, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

... In Christianity there is a deeply embedded separation between spirit and nature, a split apparent in this verse from Galations 5:17: "The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these things are opposed to one an other ..." (RSV).

... in Christianity nature is not a primary revelation of the divine. Rivers, trees, and stones are not perceived as alive and permeated with spirit but rather as dead matter. The earth, then, becomes something to be conquered, subdued, observed, and studied. It becomes a big science project.

Because of all this we begin to think of ourselves as separate from and innately superior to the rest of the planet. We lost the ability to identify with it at deep empathetic levels.

In Christianity this is even further undermined by a scared attempt to transcend the material earth and the flesh of our bodies, as it is suggested in a verse from James 1:27: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: ... to keep oneself unstained from the world" (RSV).

Often the earth seems to function like a mere way station where we can grapple with our redemption before going "up there" to the realm of the Father, who is viewed as totally other than the earth and high above it.



Dale said...

I agree with Katt. I see the sacred in everything -- if I take time to look. Trees. Rocks. Water. Everything.
I think modern Christianity is beginning to recognize the ways of the ancients. The United Church of Canada published (a few years ago) a full and sincere apology to Canada's native people, wherein they acknowledged that by ignoring their sacred spiritualism and insisting they accept our religion, we lost much more than we can imagine.
Thanks, Anvilcloud. Well written.

Anonymous said...

I think there is room for a more moderate view... of valuing the earth and all living forms, since they were made by the Creator who also made us... while also not elevating the status of a bug or a fish to being higher than humans. We are the only ones who have the gift of a soul, which means we will go on living past even our deaths. Does this mean we should mistreat other living things simply because they don't have souls?? Absolutely not. But I simply cannot believe that a beetle in my garden is intrinsically more valuable than my spouse is, for example. For those of you who have children, if you had to choose who would live and who would die, would you not hold dearly to your child over the life of a bug, a raccoon, a deer, an elephant, a whale? Human life is very valuable, but when other life forms are elevated as though they are more valuable (or even equally valuable) to a human life, I have a problem with that. It does not only increase the value of the other life form, it also decreases the perceived value of the human life. And that is a slippery slope, IMHO.