Love Your Body, Love Creation Series…
Like most of us, I have been struggling with what actions are right for me going into 2017. Working for the “common good” is going to have a hard time against “I’ve got mine” in our unfettered, for-profit society. Where does caring for creation fit in this eco-political reality?
For me, caring for creation is literally and figuratively the grounding for a just world. Caring for creation is not an optional “environmental” issue. It is how we relate to each other, to other creatures and to the Creator. To care for creation is to be fully engaged with social justice and Christian theology.
Beginning in Genesis, our scriptures speak to caring for creation as inseparable from our relationship with the Creator and from social justice. The early writers of our scriptural tradition wanted to establish the importance of caring for creation by connecting the creation of human life with the most elemental aspect of creation, the soil. Other writers speak to God’s presence in all of creation. Prophets speak powerfully to the injustices resulting from control by a few to access to the land and to mistreatment of land.
Because we are removed from the source of our food we have lost the connection between justice and the soil, but for early writers it was basic. Access to good soil allows people to feed themselves. Privatizing access to soil, and destroying soil’s natural fertility, contributes to poverty, destruction of communities, mass starvation and violence. Creation care begins with “land justice”.
Several of us have been working on “Love your body/Love Creation”, a project about eating and shopping choices that respect the soil, speak to climate change, treatment of workers, and treatment of animals.
For me, buying as much locally grown or raised food as possible means food grown without reliance on soil – destroying chemicals. It also means food less dependent on the massive destructive nature of fossil fuel extraction.
Buying locally helps support local communities. When local is not possible, buying from companies that provide fair payment and good working conditions is an option.
Local personal actions fortify us to take actions in our larger community and nationally on issues of land use, food production, energy policy, and other matters of creation care. But first, as our scriptures tell us, caring for creation is social justice.
Love Your Body, Love Creation and Standing Rock
The Community House project Love Your Body/Love Creation is rooted in the same passion that is sustaining tens of thousands of people at Standing Rock. – the sacredness of creation. How can we understand this connection between the religious belief of Native Peoples in the sacredness of the earth and Christian tradition?
These few quotations below might help us better understand our Christian theological connection to what is happening at Standing Rock. This then leads us to our own Community House project Love Your Body/Love Creation.
From “Spiritual Ecology: Cry of the Earth”
(Thomas Berry) “The indigenous peoples of this continent tried to teach us the value of the land but unfortunately we could not understand them… We desired to teach them our ways, never thinking that they could teach us theirs.”
(Sister Miriam Mac Gillis )“Typically the religious messages we hold are still based on our separation from nature – the pursuit of God is equally separated from nature…we don’t go out into our backyard and kneel down before the soil and know that we are in the face of sacred mystery. It’s just dirt to us: its opaque. its real estate. Whoever has the deed owns it.
(Theologian Norman Wirzba) “In Genesis 2 the centrality of soil is even more pronounced than in Genesis 1. Here God fashions the first human being by taking the dust of the ground into his hands… It is only as the ground is suffused with God’s intimate, breathing presence that human life – along with the life of trees and animals and birds – is possible. .” (Italics from prologue)
(Rabbi Arthur Waskow) “The notion of YHWH as “the Breath of Life” accords with a deep sense of God as intimate and transcendent at once. … Moreover, it makes profound sense for at least one of the real Names of the real God to be …not in any single language but in all of them, or in some form of expression that both underlies and transcends language: just breathing, which all humans of all peoples do.”
I had never heard of eco-theology, spiritual ecology, or creation spirituality. When I did venture into Christian eco-theology, I recognized the kinship with other religious traditions. God’s active presence is everywhere; not limited to human experience.
Native American religious experience has maintained this unity while eco-theology attempts to reconnect our Christian tradition with this larger awareness of God’s active presence. This will not take the form of Native American traditions but it will help us share the religious passion to protect sacred space.
Now, what does this have to do with our Community House project Love Your Body/Love Creation ? Everything ! Love Your Body begins with our connection with the earth – described in our biblical tradition and available to us in food growing that keeps destructive practices from our bodies and out of the soil. Love Your Body/Love Creation helps us learn to live in harmony with the natural fertility and abundance of Creation.