Psalm 8 – What Is Humankind That You Are Mindful of Us

Lately this blogsite has been looking at some Psalms in the context of Advent longing and the climate crisis.

 

Now, at Christmas, we pause. The fruit of our longing has come. The crisis continues, but we are not alone in it.

 
O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!/ You have set your glory above the heavens./ Out of the mouths of babes and infants/ you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,/ to silence the enemy and the avenger./ When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, / the moon and the stars that you have established;/ what are human beings that you are mindful of them,/ mortals that you care for them? Psalm 8:1-4

 
At Christmas we look to the stars, the same stars that the psalmist saw. And Abram and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph. The same stars that shepherds wondered at. And sojourners from the east, looking for something in the heavens that might bring hope.

 
We have the technology to look not only at the stars but at stars beyond stars. We not only wonder how small and insignificant we might be here but whether there is life somehow, somewhere, looking back at us…

 
And we know that these stars are not only so wonderfully magnificent, we know that they have existed for centuries, centuries upon centuries. And the matter in those stars is also in ourselves.

 
So, in some ways, more than ever, we may wonder at our smallness, our significance, our loneliness.

 
The psalmist hears the glory of God “chanted” in the snuffles and cries of infants. And on this Christmas night, we know that even more profoundly.

 
We are small. We could be lost among the stars, but we are not. We could be forgotten in time and space. But we are not.

 
Now is the silence of the midnight sky, interrupted by the cry of a newborn. Now is the Word that made these heavens and all life forms under them, now made flesh, living as the same matter as these life forms. So that these tiny life forms may live in the same Spirit as the Eternal One.

 
We are small. And we are important. Important to have ben entrusted with the care of all sheep and oxen/, and also the beasts of the field,/ the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,/ whatever passes along the paths of the seas .(v. 7-8)

 
On this Christmas night we look to the stars and remember that we have assumed, maybe continue to assume, that we are bigger than we are. We have misunderstood dominion to mean domination. We have misunderstood our responsibility to till and to care as our right to exploit and destroy.

 
So, in the silence of a dark and lonely world a newborn snuffles and cries, reminding us of vulnerability and tenderness. And Presence.

 
We got it wrong, not always but mostly, when the Eternal One put the who world in our hands. Instead of giving up, this Eternal One became flesh and put divinity in our hands.

 
Now, wordless, with tiny brown eyes starring into our own, perhaps with a twinkle, like the stars, this infant asks, “Now, what will you do with me?”

 
O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (v.9)

Psalm 40 – I waited patiently for the Lord

In this Advent season, this blog site is reflecting on various Psalms through the lens of the creation crisis. As we await the coming of the cosmic Christ, as we await the renewing of Earth and the saving of God’s creatures and God’s creation, we long, we lament, and we hope. We even give thanks! God is coming… Come soon!

 
How’s your patience today?

 
Perhaps you’ve found a way to stand in long lines with ease. Perhaps looking for a parking space in a large mall still irks you. Perhaps you can’t wait for classes to end and holidays to begin. Perhaps you have just a few odds and ends to clear up at the office, but you are dependent upon co-workers to pass along their work first.

 
Perhaps you are waiting for test results to come back from the laboratory. Perhaps you are awaiting news from family and friends about travel arrangements. You check the mailbox, or the computer or the smart phone… hoping… anticipating… but nothing… yet.

 
Psalm 40:1 reads, “I waited patiently for the Lord.”

 
But it was not silent patience, apparently. Apparently, there were cries. Pain? Desperation? Anger?

 
Meanwhile, after a while, God responded and delivered. Not only was there good news, but things changed!

 
It is said that God is never late. But God’s people wait… and wait… and wait…

 
Our Advent readings remind us of Abram and Sarah… Zechariah and Elizabeth… Joseph and Mary…. These are stories of waiting and waiting fulfilled. This is a season of waiting. There is something to wait for, because there is something promised. And God answers promises, keeps promises, acts.

 
Another UN sponsored climate talk has ended recently in Madrid. The conversations even extended two extra days… Perhaps this time… Perhaps just a little more time…?! But not so. The results continue as they have been. Business as usual. Responsible nations seek transparency and accountability; they negotiate for a carbon market that would require nations contributing to the carbon crisis to pay. But that’s too expensive, these carbon emitting nations claim. Sadly, the true costs of the continuing crisis fall upon those who are least responsible for carbon emissions but bear the greater cost of starvation, homelessness, disease and death.

 
Maybe next year. But sadly, the damages will only continue and worsen. Climate change is expensive. But those most vulnerable are paying the greater price.

 
Psalm 40:4 reads,” Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.”

 
It seems those who are most happy are those who are proud, powerful, and committed to the worship of profit and empire.

 
It seems the psalmist has a wonderful song yet to sing, a song of deliverance, faithfulness and mercy. It’s a sung to be remembered. It has been sung before.

 
It will be sung again… but not yet.

 
Psalm 40: 17 reads, “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.”

 
How’s your patience lately?

Psalm 84- How lovely is your dwelling place

In this Advent season, this blog site is reflecting on various Psalms through the lens of the creation crisis. As we await the coming of the cosmic Christ, as we await the renewing of Earth and the saving of God’s creatures and God’s creation, we long, we lament, and we hope. We even give thanks. God is coming… Come soon!

 
Psalm 84: 1 ….How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!

 
Crisp clear skies. Honking geese. Hoarfrost painting the trees in all directions. A cold, but not too cold, Calgary morning is indeed lovely. I have experienced Christmas without snow. Tennessee had its own beauty with smoky mountains. But I have grown up with and am accustomed to a white Christmas.

 
A recent environmental conference in Calgary talked about the impact of climate change in the mountains. Some resorts are already limited in their skiing opportunities. Some have been moving to promoting mountain biking instead of skiing and snow boarding! Wildlife patterns are changing.

 

The Lord’s dwelling place is changing. It is still the Lord’s dwelling place. And it is still lovely.

 
Psalm 84:3-4…. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.

 
Winter provides an opportunity to see many forms of wildlife that may be better camouflaged in other seasons. The fox and coyote stand out against the white fields. The deer may be hidden, except at sunset, but their tracks overstep your own. Had these deer been right behind me and I missed them? The snowshoe hare appears out of nowhere. You did not notice the dark eyes. And you did not see the spot on the tail that distracts you and fools you indicating, “See, here I was but not where I am.” The rabbit runs, confident it is safe in its winter coat… and its swift feet.

 
On a really cold day the sparrows fluff their feathers to stay warm. They appear twice their normal size. The nests that had been home to an osprey family are empty. But the family will likely move in again when the trees bud and the fish are running.

 
The psalmist is drawn to the beauty of God’s dwelling place. The poet sings of the tiny creatures and places of highways and springs, rains and pools. But somehow the eyes of the poet are drawn beyond what is seen to the Lord behind it, the Creator who made it. The song is not to the birds but to the Lord. About the Lord.

 
Some people are drawn to the golf course, the mountain top, the seaside. There is something about these places that stirs the heart or calms the soul. This is their chapel, their sanctuary, they say. This is where they encounter beauty, majesty, wonder, something greater than themselves. But it may not be the Lord behind the scene, beyond the horizon, majestic as it is.

 
The golf course near my home is pretty quiet now, under its winter blanket. But it is still the dwelling place of the Lord of hosts. The Lord is still home, even if the fair-weather guests have gone to visit elsewhere.

 
The psalmist is inspired by what is seen. But the psalmist is moved by something more: desire, affection, love, praise.

 
It is not the busyness, not the activities of skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding, skating. As attractive and engaging as they are. There is something more.

 
The song of the poet, and the song of creation, is a love song, a ‘thank you’, a ‘praise you’ (verse 4).

 
There is something lovely about a winter morning. The trees, the birds. The sparkling river that has ice crystals on the edges that match those on my eyebrows and eyelashes.

 
There’s joy at this time of year. I never want to lose it. But it’s the joy of gratitude for the living God (verse 2). And the sense of blessedness. The cheeks are cold. But the heart is warm.

 
Psalm 84: 12…. O Lord of Hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Psalm 97 – Climate Crisis – Is This the Holiness of God We See?

This is Advent. A time of waiting, longing, anticipating. These are changing times. Times that are changing and times that need so drastically to change.

 
Psalm 97 invites the many coastlands to rejoice and be glad. Can we do that this Advent? Not just a few of us, but everyone – in all the lands?

 
The psalmist then describes clouds and thick darkness. Consuming fire. Lightning. And a world that trembles. Melting mountains.

 
So far, the psalmist insists this is the glory of God. Nothing to be afraid of. Not a threat, but majesty and righteousness. Yes, judgement as the fires consume God’s adversaries. But when the world seems to be going so wrong, it’s encouraging to know there is something Right. And lightning, in all its power, frightens. The fearful, helpless child within us knows that. At the same time, lightning reveals in startling glimpses what lies in the darkness.

 
This year and for years to come, where mountains melt, we might think of glaciers and icecaps. The land is changing. The sea is rising. Islands and coastlines, once visible, are disappearing. And people, once secure on the coastlines and riverbanks, are seeking higher ground. Perhaps ground belonging to someone else. Maybe coastline and riverbank and higher ground all belong to God, and God alone. We are only tenants, neighbors, under the common glory of God.

 
Maybe only then can Zion hear and be glad and the towns rejoice, even in so much change.

 
We thought we were the lords of the earth. The land, sea and air and their resources were ours, weren’t they, to sell, consume, enjoy. But it appears we are becoming more helpless. Politicians won’t save us. Corporations won’t save us. Science, with all its insights and technology and advantages won’t save us – until our hearts are saved. Until our motivations are saved. Until our priorities are saved. Until we have a change of will.
Until then, “all the worshippers of images are put to shame.” Logos and trademarks and branding won’t help – without a change of heart.

 
Maybe its time we spoke out; time we said something against the evil that seeks today over tomorrow, profit over justice, uniformity over diversity, exclusion over inclusion, competition over compassion.

 
Maybe its time to admit we are not the high and mighty. And yet most of us in the developed world are certainly more high – in income, opportunity, education and health care – and mighty – in terms of self-determination and independence.

 
If God is going to rescue the faithful from the hands of the wicked (10) we must determine how we contribute to wickedness – even by apathy, denial, and blindness in eye and heart.

 
“Light dawns for the righteous and joy for the upright in heart (11).”

 
This is Advent, a time of waiting. At this time, we fill the night with the illusion of lights, colorful, distracting, pretentious. We fill the night with songs, because we are weary of carols, and noise, so we do not hear the cries of the wounded, the grieving, the lost and the harmed. So we do not hear the silence, for fear there is really nothing out there at all.
Where is the star this year? Where is the epiphany of a new reality emerging for us? It won’t be the star of empire but of heaven. It won’t be a star above, but a star within, in the eye and in the heart.

 
“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to [God’s] holy name (12

Psalm 107 Climate Crisis and a Promise of Deliverance – But Not Yet!

This is Advent, a season of waiting, expecting, longing. Because we are Christian, we know of the profound faithfulness of God. But because we are human, we also know emptiness, desire, frustration, a deep abiding hunger. As good as Christ’s coming has ever been, “Come, Lord, come soon!”

 

We are in a rapidly increasing climate crisis. Psalm 107 has new poignancy. Even as it encourages, it frightens.

 
Let’s begin with verse 3. God Is gathering the people from all directions. Climate change is affecting everyone: north, south, east and west. Some places may not feel the effects as much as others. But the consequences of catastrophic change will touch everyone, everywhere.

 
There are already those homeless, displaced, wandering in desert wastes (4-5), hungry and thirsty. They cry to the Lord, to the courts, to the governments. Are they delivered?

 

Not yet.

 
It seems God is turning rivers into deserts – and springs into thirsty ground (33). The winds are blowing. The land is drying. Fires are burning – in the north and the south, the east and the west. At the same time, deserts are becoming pools of water (35). And this is not necessarily a good thing! Parched land is becoming wetland. Farmland is losing its fertility to saltwater.

 
Rivers are changing. Irrigation is changing. Reservoirs are drying up. The soft, sweet rains are disappearing, with a year of drought following an earlier year of drought. But in other places the rains fall in torrents, at most inappropriate times. Months of moisture fall within hours. Farmlands, houses, roadways are waste deep in flooding, rainwater, saltwater and sewage.

 
Orchards are changing. Vinelands are changing. Cereal fields are changing. Pasture is changing. Will we adapt; will we change?

 
Still our politicians fly off to more summits of words but little action. Businesspeople go down to the sea in ships (23). Tankers and cargo ships ply the waters. The wonderous works in the deep (24), the benefits of globalization, are changing. Ships rise to the heavens and sink to the depths. Together with stock prices and protective tariffs and wages and contracts. Business is reeling and staggering, as though drunk in their illusions and presumptions, and authorities who have been warned for thirty years are at their wits end (27) .

 
Are we crying to the Lord in our trouble? Are we delivered from our distress? Not yet.

 
We have known about climate change and the risks for future generations. But we have chosen to protect the short term and reward the current generation, at least in the developed world. We sit in darkness, imprisoned in our own policies and diplomacies and contracts. Others in the developing world live in iron-like bondage to forces they cannot control, over which they have no say. Their hearts are bowed down in their labor. They are not yet saved from their distress (13).

 
Not only humans are made sick; even the creatures are afflicted by iniquity – iniquity which they themselves did not commit. Habitat is lost. Migration patterns change, and vast herds starve and disappear. Seasonal patterns change, so insects hatch before the flowers bloom. Invasive species of insects expand their territories ahead of the predacious insects that would hold them in check. Entire forests fall. Disease, chemicals, pesticides disrupt the balance in the water, the soil and the air. Extinction is everywhere.
How can a loving God, the divine source of steadfast love, allow such things? Rather than assuming responsibility for our own actions, we turn “innocently” toward the God whose counsel we have spurned (11). “All we have enjoyed is being lost! Give us more! Make this right!”

 
Yet it seems God pours contempt on the princes (40).

 
God does not pick and choose who is loved, where the rains fall. God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). The steadfast love of God is established in the very laws of nature, the diversity of the biosphere, the balance of creation. God does not arbitrarily intervene in the laws and principles of creation, for the benefit of some, at the expense of others.

 
This is a time for renewed balance, the restoration of justice, the establishment of new towns ( 36) and the homecoming of the outcast (7). The resources are there. The blessings are there. It is up to us to extend that steadfast love and equitably distribute God’s “wonderful works to humankind” (8, 15, 21, 31).

 
“Let those who are wise give heed to these things and consider the steadfast love of the Lord (43)!

Effects of Climate Change on Physical Health – Your Parish Response

The effects of climate change on health are well documented. The categories names below summarize the complex possibilities…

 
Temperature impacts: heat stroke, dehydration, cardiovascular compromise, respiratory, cerebrovascular disease;
Air quality impacts: asthma, respiratory, cardiovascular health effects, reduced lung function, airway inflammation, changes in allergy triggers;
Extreme Events: reduced access food and clean drinking water, impaired access to services due to damaged highways, stomach and intestinal disease, increased mental illness stress response, PTSD;
Vectorborne diseases: ticks and Lyme disease, west Nile virus;
Water-related illness: gastrointestinal disease such as diarrhea, liver and kidney damage, pathogens, parasites, viruses, algae and cyanobacterial blooms;
Food and safety nutrition: mercury and chemical contaminants, damage to infrastructure and distribution routes;
Mental health: persons with mental illness faced triple the risk of death in heat waves, inhibited stress responses.
How will our congregations respond to the health effects of climate change as weather events become more extreme and more frequent? Communities that never used to are experiencing fires, floods, ice storms and blizzards, tornadoes and sheer winds, prolonged drought. The question is no longer “will it happen?” but “when?”. How will your community be prepared?

 
Consider how you might use your space as a temporary emergency shelter… As a space where family and loved ones can wait for and receive information after an event… As a distribution point for food, clothing and emergency comfort goods.

 
Consider how your members might be involved as volunteers offering hospitality, information and direction, or emergency goods.

 
Who are the potential partners in shaping an emergency response team? Plan and carry out a mock event drill so people are clear on responsibilities and limitations and glitches are discovered and rectified.

 
Reach out with inquiries now. Develop relationships now. Make plans now. The perfect storm is too late.

Humanity’s Place: To Dominate or Serve?

Jurgen Moltmann has gathered ten essays together into a challenging and enlightening book: The Future of Creation: Collected Essays, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis), 2007. Known for his extensive writings on the theme of hope, the threads of hope are here interwoven within the current climate crisis. Readers are encouraged to delve into his work directly. What follows here are some reflections stimulated by these essays, applications to the current climate crisis. This is one of many in a series of blogs based on Moltmann.

 

“But hasn’t mankind been given the responsibility to have dominion over the earth? Weren’t the first man and woman told to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth? Didn’t God tell Adam and Eve that all things were given to them to eat and enjoy? Isn’t creation meant to fulfill the desires and delights of humankind?”
The questions go on and on. If someone wants to challenge the claims about climate change, they begin with… “The earth has always gone through cycles of heating and cooling; there have always been storms. This isn’t unusual and clearly not the fault of humanity.” Here’s where we need to listen to science, even sometimes discerning between differing claims whether there is a bias that interprets the facts.
And if that doesn’t work, then these statements from the Bible come up. I never would discourage anyone from reading the Bible, so let’s begin there. Go back and read the Genesis stories. Read them carefully. Read them respectfully, that is honoring the context, authorship and language of the day.
Note first there are two stories. Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4- 3;24. They come from different ages in history. They were written by different authors and actually tell different stories with different intentions or meanings.
Let’s keep it simple. Notice that the order of creation happens in different sequences. Notice that the Divine has two different names. “God” in the first story and “Lord God” in the second. The names are different in Hebrew. We won’t go into why here.
But even at that, it is clear we must read these stories carefully and not read into them what suits our purpose or bias.
To the justifying statements frequently made above.
We’ll come back to “dominion” in a moment.
“Be fruitful and multiply” was direction given to the birds and the sea creatures, Genesis 1:22, as well, as the man and woman, Genesis 1:28. If humankind was instructed to have dominion over the creatures and subdue the earth, and the birds and whales and cod stocks and salmon are going extinct, having extreme difficulty in being fruitful and multiplying, would humankind be accountable for their demise?
And reading carefully the instructions to the man and woman in the first story, regarding what they could eat, one needs to note that meat was not on the menu! Only plants were available for food. It’s not until Genesis 9:3 that God allows humanity to eat meat, but without its blood. Apparently even the beasts and birds were vegetarian in Genesis 1:30.
Interesting too that God says to the man in Genesis 2 that he may eat freely of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, the man was given freedom, within limits. Here is the heart of the second story.
And is creation given for the delight of humankind? Or is creation fundamentally meant for the delight of God? There are other passages about other creatures being pleasing to God; even the sea monster is made for God’s delight (read sport or play)
God makes everything because God wants to. There is no reason other than God can; God desires; and God does.
So, what is humankind here for? In the first story, the instruction is to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the creatures and subdue the earth. Sounds like pretty much a blank check, authority for just about anything. But then God says that everything has been given to humankind by God. Humankind cannot assume ownership. The earth and its minerals and resources and creatures belong to God and are given, with the instructions mentioned.
And before all of this, it is said about humankind that humankind is made in the image of God, male and female alike. So, what does it mean to be made in God’s image?
We read further…. In the second story, there was no one to till the earth. But that was ok because there was no rain and no plants yet. (Genesis 2:4-5). So, the LORD God made the man from the same stuff as the rest of creation – from the dust of the earth. And then the LORD God planted the garden. With everything pleasant to the sight and good for food. And the LORD God planted two trees, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.
Then, having prepared everything, the LORD God put the man in the garden to “till it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15. Again, the man could eat of every tree, except one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
What about the tree of life? That comes later.
So, the man’s first job was to take inventory. Then the man observed every creature and named it and that was its name.
But the man was alone, so very alone. There was no creature of his own species. So, the LORD God made the woman. Now some would argue that the woman was made after Adam, second to his nature, a helper, under his arm, close to his heart… I won’t go there. Except to say that she too was made from the dust of the earth, in common with all creatures.
So, reading carefully, in the second story, creation was not made for man, man was made for creation! Man was given, from the beginning, the role of “tilling and keeping” the earth.
I know, what about “dominion”? When God gives “dominion” to the judges and kings of Israel it is always to rule for the benefit of the people. If the ruler gets in trouble, it’s because the rule has been for his benefit (not hers yet) not for the people. The good kings are sometimes described as shepherds, looking after a flock. So, dominion is not about expanding the empire and creating jobs, building cities and expanding trade… unless for the well-being of the people.
So, when God’s Son comes to reign as the anointed one, Messiah, that is, king – he is described as a shepherd, a healer, a teacher, a judge for the freeing of the people, not their oppression.
This king would even surrender his own life, rather than take some personal advantage. He came not to be served (have dominion – power over), but to serve (Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45).
OK, since this is part of the Moltmann series of reflections, let’s bring him in now.
“According to the Bible, man’s (sic) leadership over the world is justified because he (sic) is made in the image of God. According to Bacon and Descartes, it is man’s rule over the world that substantiates his divinity.” (p. 128) However, in their day, the relationship between humanity and creation was that of a subject to an object. Science studies creation. Science experiments with nature. Industry utilizes the resources available in creation. Business commercializes space, creatures, minerals and the like. Even bottling water and air for sale. Humanity enjoys a quality of life sustained and improved by better utilization of creation. This is “a pattern of domination and exploitation.” (p.128)
Moltmann quotes Heisenberg, from his book, The Physicist’s Conception of Nature, stating that that subjective-objective perspective no longer works.
“Science, we find, is now focused on the network of relationships between man and nature, on the framework which makes us as living beings dependent parts of nature, and which we as human beings have simultaneously made the object of our thoughts and actions. Science no longer confronts nature as an objective observer, but sees itself as an actor in the interplay between man and nature.” (Quoted on p. 128)

 
Put simply, instead of science as a subject observing and acting upon nature as an object, now science and nature communicate and mutually act upon one another, subject to subject. Moltmann continues, “Nature is no longer the subjugated object of man, but a cohesion of open life systems with its own subjectivity.” (p.128) Continuing, “Two subjects with, of course, different subjectivity enter into a mutual relationship with one another.” (p. 129)
Moltmann calls for Christian theology to revaluate traditional values because of Jesus Christ, “true man” and the “image of God.” To Christ was given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). And this same authority expects not to be served but to serve.” And he, Christ, “true man” and “image of God” served to make us free for fellowship with God and for openness for one another.” (p. 129). In light of Christ’s authority and image of God, Genesis 1: 28 must be reinterpreted. To have dominion and subdue the earth is not to “subdue” it as formerly understood, but to free it, through fellowship with it. (129). As expressed in Romans 8, enslaved nature waits for the “glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Karl Marx called this the “true resurrection of nature,” to come from the “naturalization of man” and from the “humanization of nature.”
Moltmann sees this transformation requiring a new ethic, “away from the will to power towards solidarity, away from the struggle for existence, towards peace in existence, and away from the pursuit of happiness towards fellowship.” (130)
Continuing, he writes, “The most important element in the future development of civilization is social justice, not the growth of economic power. We shall not be able to achieve social justice without justice for the natural environment, and we shall not be able to achieve justice for nature without social justice.” (130)
Readers familiar with Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si will recognize a similar conviction.
Moltmann argues (twelve years ago) that we today are realizing the limits of continued expansion, development and growth. We are experiencing shortages of food, limited access to clean water. “Doing without” is becoming increasingly necessary. “Solidarity and fellowship are the values which make unavoidable suffering and necessary sacrifices endurable.” (130)
Moltmann concludes by quoting from the Bucharest Consultation of the World Council of Churches on Science and Technology for Human Development, 1974…
“Independence, in the sense of liberation from oppression of others, is a requirement of justice. But independence in the sense of isolation from the human community is neither possible nor just. We- human persons – need each other in communities. We – human communities- need each other within the community of mankind. We – the creation – need God, our Creator and Recreator. Mankind faces the urgent task of devising social mechanisms and political structures that encourage genuine interdependence, in order to replace mechanisms and structures that sustain dominance and subservience.” (130)

 
Faithful people understood this forty years ago! Why has it taken so long? Are we not listening to the birds, the whales, the winds, the trees, the fires, the seas? If we still cannot understand that these are our kin, why are we not listening to the poor, the homeless, the starving, the displaced? These, certainly, are our kin! Why are the only voices that claim our attention coming from boardrooms, warehouses, shopping malls, staterooms, and advertising media?
Where are the conversations of people in solidarity, in relationship? Not only have we objectified and commodified nature, but we have become objectified and commodified as people no longer in relationship but as consumers in the pursuit of the myth – the lie – of ever-expanding GDP!

 
In the words of Job 12:7-10 –
Ask the beasts and they will teach you; the birds of the air and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among these does not know that the hand of God has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of every human being.

 

God help us all!