Sunday, October 30, 2011

Green Spirituality: What Has Ecology To Do With Theology?

Green Spirituality: What Has The Christian Life to do with Nature?

The 2009 blockbuster movie “Avatar” told a futuristic tale of two species locked in a struggle for the planet Pandora. The villains were a group of greedy, materialistic and colonizing humans hell-bent on mining precious minerals even though it would destroy the habitat of the natives. For these cut-throat mercenaries, Pandora’s lush, intricate eco-system was “nothing but ferns”. On the other hand, the protagonists were 10-feet-tall, blue humanoids called the Na'vi who lived in harmony with nature and worshipped Eywa, the life-force permeating all of life. In the context of ecological problems that plague our own planet, it appears that popular culture presents us with a similarly straightforward choice between crass capitalism and nature-friendly pantheism.

For instance, the well-known Lynn White thesis traced the historical roots of our modern ecological crisis to the emergence of medieval Christian belief in “man’s transcendence of, and rightful mastery over, nature” . Ancient pagans were afraid to cut down a tree or mine a mountain because of spirits that supposedly reside in them. But by supplanting pagan animism, it was argued that Christianity made it possible for Western man to exploit nature in a “mood of indifference”. If the Bible legitimates man’s dominion over nature, isn’t Christian theology guilty of providing justification for environmental degradation? Isn’t a pantheistic belief that “everything is divine” or “we are one with the universe” more helpful to engender respect for every rock, tree, animal or blade of grass? In this assignment, I would like to propose that Christians could draw on powerful resources from within its own spiritual tradition to care for creation without worshipping nature.

Read on here

No comments: