Consider the creator in our response to climate change
Norfolk County Hall Chaplain, Rev Dr Liviu Barbu suggests that in our response to climate change and future care of the Earth, we need to consider its creator.
Beauty, according to the Greek philosophical tradition, is a name for God and a sign of God’s presence in creation through the all-encompassing and sustaining divine grace. The word cosmos means ordered harmony which is the essence of beauty. The beauty, orderliness and complexity of the world calls for a deep understanding of it beyond what the physical eye can see.
Early Christian philosophers spoke of an inner rational order present in all created things and beings. All that exists therefore could be revealing and also veiling a presence which sustains a practical as well as a spiritual purpose. Hence there could be something evading and transcending us when dealing with the world we live in. We cannot be but richer in our understanding of the world if we look at it with wonder as into a deep mystery which we could intuitively understand when tuned up to its inner workings through science, faith or both.
According to the Biblical narrative, God created a good enough world for us and other species to inhabit, with a well-balanced environment (Genesis 1:31). The world was not perfect though, as it had to evolve to completion with our participation. Human failure however disturbed the orderliness, beauty and natural course of the world. Over centuries, human activity has also managed to alter the environment.
Mending our partially broken world may benefit from an appeal to its grand designer in order to better understand some fine mechanisms ingrained in the world. Managing the earth with no reference to a creator or a higher authority may leave us limited in our understanding of it and in the employment of all the resources needed to solve its problems.
The early Christian tradition called for restraint in life, anything from food to possessions. A completely vegan diet was observed for lengthy periods prior to the main Christian festivals and twice a week throughout the year. That is still the case today in many parts of the world and it is also practiced in other religious traditions.
In tune with the latest awakening to the ecological crisis, this centuries-long practice is becoming fashionable today, although for different reasons. In churches, Christians pray that rifts between God, nature and us may be healed. In the liturgy, the world is offered back to God to be cleansed from defiling human activities, hallowed and made fully functional again as it had once been.
It is only recently that we have come to understand the profound consequences of believing and behaving as owners and masters of the planet Earth with little regard to the next generations. One cannot but appreciate the radical ways in which we are now thinking and acting about the environment. Furthermore, I think we need “natural” solutions to mostly man-made “artificial” problems in order to be able to steer the world back into its original trajectory.
We ought to rediscover ways to go beyond empty materialism, which is consuming and consummating our planet and ourselves, by which to break into the spiritual underpinning of our universe and our own lives. That may open new horizons in reconsidering the crucial crises we face and it may also aid our own healing and that of the world as we can indeed mend the world whilst mending ourselves and our ways with the world.
The image above is courtesy of Pixabay.com