Earth Ethic – a new green faith?
Loving the Earth comes naturally to me. I literally burst out in tears when I see humans doing the opposite – trashing the environment without a conscious thought for Her feelings, for the future of the planet or what negative impact their unconscious behavior has going forward.
Clearly my love for the Earth does not come naturally to everyone. I’ve tried screaming, shouting and other passionate protestations to get people to “catch a wake up” as I like to call it. I’ve even seriously considered starting a Green War to force people to go green. But it won’t help either. Wars never do.
So I look at other strategies. And I look at where people are at – and what their beliefs are so I can grasp the general apathy towards the planet.
And I ask the big question: Can religion help humans go green?
Elizabeth Johnson, a former president of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the ecumenical American Theological Society, says that communication between and about different forms of faith shows that each religious tradition definitely has its own distinctive contribution to make.
In this 2010 Burke lecture called An Ecological Enquiry – Jesus and the Cosmos, she eloquently fleshes out a very important part of the Christian tradition, namely, the meaning of Jesus Christ. She asks if this enigmatic and crucial figure in Christian faith may also bring us humans an important teaching about the natural world – and just where, how and what does Jesus have to do with the Earth?
I must say that I really love her eloquence, and her 3 part “Earth Ethic” seriously speaks to me: She reckons humans require 3 paterns of behaviour –
- Contemplation: To learn to look at the Earth through the eyes of love. She says that if a human does not love something or someone, they will not cherish, look after or save it. Instead they will look at it through the eyes of utilitarianism, Capitalism, etc. So we need to cultivate an ethic of care and realize the beauty of creation.
- Ascetic: To hold back our brainwashed insistence on this indulgent consumerism we have taken up as our new religion. To chill out once a week instead of doing the shopping that one day of the week off; to actually rest, fast and unslave ourselves from the market place and advertising’s insistence on self indulgence. And to practice business with a green ethic.
- Prophetic action: To take critical action in our lives, whether socially, politically, theologically et al on behalf of the survival of the planet and all life on it.
Thus, she says, we will fulfill the life teaching of Jesus which is to ensure a vibrant, flourishing life for all humans and creation upon a vibrant and flourishing Earth.
I can certainly go with that. How about you?