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Christian Theology and Gaia

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Hildegard von Bingen receiving illuminations from heaven... The godless do not know how to act, or how to renounce. They have neither purity nor truth. They do not understand the right principles ... They say that the universe is an accident with no purpose and no God ... that life is created by sexual union, a product of lust and nothing else. Thinking thus, these degraded souls, these enemies of mankind - whose intelligence is negligible and whose deeds are monstrous - come into the world only to destroy. -- Bhagavad Gita

It is important today that theologians and others should begin to look at the Bible afresh, and to reassess its message about humanity and our relationship with the planet. A fresh reading of biblical texts about the created world order, its conservation and restoration, and some reflections on the cultural context in which these themes occur, not only in the Bible but also in other religious texts from neighbouring cultures, can tell us much about Christianity's real ecological ethic ... When the Bible's teaching on God's Creation and our place in it is duly digested, I believe that it cries out to us: 'you are fellow-creatures of everything else in the Cosmos. You have no right to exploit or destroy, but you have duties to all, under God to whom you are responsible.' -- Father Robert Murray

Many people today are calling for modern religion, and specifically Christianity, to be re-imbedded in the cosmos, so that religion might become a real force in providing the ethical and spiritual energy for the critical task of reversing the degradation of the Earth. -- Vincent Rossi

Do not mock anything God has created. All creation is simple, plain and good. And God is present throughout his creation. Why do you ever consider things beneath your notice? God's justice is to be found in every detail of what he has made. The human race alone is capable of injustice. Human beings alone are capable of disobeying God's laws, because they try to be wiser than God. -- Hildegard von Bingen, Scivas 1.2.29

The rest of Creation cries out against the evil and perversity of the human species. Other creatures fulfil the commandments of God; they honour his laws. And other creatures do not grumble and complain at those laws. But human beings rebel against those laws, defying them in word and action. And in doing so they inflict terrible cruelty on the rest of God's creation. -- Hildegard von Bingen

The Millennium coincides with a widespread yearning for individual and Earth healing. Individuals and societies, global and local, and the whole Earth community suffer as never before under unsustainable human impact. The healing ministry should be broadened to include the earth, the living soil, plants, animals, water, and climate, and the science and technology, which, when arrogantly misused, threaten the very continuation of our species and the biosphere as we know it. -- Edward Echlin

... religions have become increasingly 'otherworldly', and have ceased to fulfil their original role of linking people to their society, to the natural world, and to the all-encompassing cosmos. In the atomised society we have created, only interpersonal relationships make any sense, and even religion becomes little more than an interpersonal relationship between a now asocial an-ecological man and a God to whom is attributed these same characteristics. -- Edward Goldsmith

Unity with nature is the foundation of man's existence on the planet. It is the foundation of all social relationships between groups and people. Without it, the present civilisation, like those of the past, will move towards decline and decay. -- Edmond Bordeaux Szekely

As practised today, Christianity differs from many mainstream religions in Man's place in the Cosmos, Man's relationship to Gaia. Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Hinduism, recognise that Man is part of a complex web of life and that Man is part of Nature, not apart from Nature. This is not only a basic tenet of Eastern religions, but also the world-view of vernacular man and chthonic societies.

Bhagavad Gita:

All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of Nature; but the man lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor.

The flaw in Christianity can be identified in Genesis where Man is given, or appears to be given, dominion over all Creation, ie granted the God given right to exploit all that is around him.

Genesis 1:28 (revised King James):

And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'

Recent translations tone down dominion and replace with rule, but the sentiment is the same, Man is still granted the authority to subdue the Earth.

Genesis 1:28 (New International):

God blessed them and said to them: 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'

It is not only the Anglo-Saxon race, in Spanish the sentiment and tone are the same (Gen 1:28):

Y los bendijo Dios, y les dijo: Fructificad y multiplicaos; llenad la tierra, y sojuzgadla, y señoread en los peces del mar, en las aves de los cielos, y en todas las bestias que se muevan sobre la tierra.

Modern Christianity takes the spirituality out of Creation, once spirituality is divorced from Creation, Creation becomes material and resource for Man to exploit.

Philip Sherrard:

There is a relationship of interdependence, interpenetration, and reciprocity between God, Man, and Creation; and it is the loss by the Christian consciousness of awareness of the full significance of this relationship that is the basic cause of today's ecological crisis. Correspondingly, if the Christian Church is to offer a positive response to the challenge of this crisis, it can only be through reaffirmation of the full significance of this relationship.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recognised that we must reconnect Christianity with Gaia otherwise we will all be destroyed, that without this reconnection, the very foundations of the religion will be destroyed.

We must recognise the failure of all anthropocentric ideologies, which have created in men and women of this century a spiritual void and an existential insecurity, and have led many people to seek salvation in new religious and parareligious movements, sects or nearly idolatrous attachments to the material values of this world. Similar are the dangers for the survival of the natural environment. The careless and self-indulgent use of material creation by man, with the help of scientific and technological progress, has already started to cause irreparable destruction to the natural environment. The Orthodox Church, not being able to remain passive in the face of such destruction, invites through us, all the Orthodox, to dedicate the first day of September of each year, the day of the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, to the offering of prayers and supplications for the preservation of God's creation and the adoption of the attitude to nature involved in the Eucharist and ascetic tradition of the Church.

Medieval historian Lynn White has expressed similar sentiment. Highly critical of Christianity's role in today's ecological crisis 'Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt', he sees the solution lies beyond the technological dimension and involves addressing the spiritual and ethical dimension, the position vis-a-vis man versus nature and his right to exploit:

What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink our old one ... We shall continue to have a worsening ecological crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence other than to serve man ... Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must be essentially religious whether we call it that or not.

Playing with nuclear fire and tampering with the genetic building blocks of life Man has not only abused Creation he has tried to adopt the mantle of God. The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, shows abominable genetic mutations. Enoch in the Book of Watchers describes the rebel angels (watchers), led by Azazel and Semihazah, fornicating with Man and sharing forbidden secrets, spawning a genetic mutant race of giants that devour the earth 'took unto themselves wives ... to go unto them and to defile themselves with them ... They became pregnant, and they bore great giants ... the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth lay accusation against the lawless ones.' Azazel also 'taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals (of the earth) the working of them ...' and corrupted men in all manner of ways.

Eastern-Orthodox theologian and environmentalist Vincent Rossi:

What must be recovered above all is the vision - not only that religion needs to be imbedded in the cosmos, but also that the world is imbedded in God. For it is this loss that inevitably led to the separation of religion from the natural order.

Vernacular Man, chthonic societies recognise the importance of maintaining the order of the Cosmos and that Man as with the creatures and the world they inhabitant are all part of the Cosmos. His rituals, his religion, are all part of everyday living, everything is inhabited by the spirit, is sacred; to attempt to separate one from the other would be to attempt to create an artificial divide.

John Patterson:

In a Maori world-view ... there is no inbuilt domination of nature by humans. To start with, at least, all species are members of a single family. There is thus no fundamental dichotomy between humans and other creatures.

In Ladakh, religion permeates all parts of everyday life. It is not something separate, relegated to a special day in a designated building.

In The Way of Wyrd Anglo-Saxon man recognised that he and the world around him were part of a complex web of life. The early Celtic Christians saw the interweaving of their religion and the natural world. Celtic music, then and now interwove the spiritual and the natural world, harmonious, natural rhythms.

The early scholars St Ephrem the Syrian, St Dionysius the Areopagite, St Maximus the Confessor, Hildegard von Bingen all recognised the complex web of life and the oneness of Creation.

St Ephrem the Syrian (306-373) in a hymn wrote:

 

	As the water surrounds the fish and feels it,
	So also do all natures feel God,
	He is diffused through the air,
	And with thy breath enters into thy midst.
	He is mingled with the light,
	And enters, when thou seest, into thy eyes.
	He is mingled with thy spirit,
	And examines thee from within, as to what thou art,
	In thy soul He dwells ...

St Ephrem the Syrian recognised that God permeates everything, we cannot separate God from his Creation. Therefore if we exploit His Creation, then we are exploiting and abusing Him. St Ephrem the Syrian also introduces the concept of oneness, familiar to Hindus and Buddhists.

Bhagavad Gita:

No work stains a man who is pure, who is in harmony, who is master of his life, whose soul is one with the soul of all.

St Dionysius the Areopagite (circa 500) defined hierarchy (The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy):

We have a venerable sacred tradition which asserts that every hierarchy is the complete expression of the sacred elements comprised within it. It is the perfect total of all its sacred constituents. Our own hierarchy is therefore said to embrace every every one of its sacred constituents.

William Blake's 'infinity in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour.'

The hierarchy of St Dionysius the Areopagite is not the rigid authoritarian pyramid command structure as implemented by the Catholic Church and Big Business, it is a network concept where the interlinking of the parts forms the whole, and the whole creates the environment for the parts. Each component part contributes to the maintaining of the stability of the whole, as organs exist within an organism and cannot exist without, unlike Modern Man who is determined like Samson to bring the temple crashing down.

Real-world systems are self-organising networks. This is the only way to handle the complexity of the real world. Many business models are now moving towards this model of reality: semi-autonomous, self-organising groups that work within the corporate ethos under the guidance of a few simple rules; telephone networks have moved from centralised control to distributed control and are now beginning to move towards interconnected, self-organising local networks; the Internet is the self-organising, organic network par excellence.

St Maximus the Confessor (580-662) developed a concept which he called diakosmesis: that all we know about humanity and all we know about the universe are reciprocal. In contemplation, how we see the world is determined by how we see ourselves, and equally, how we see ourselves is determined by how we see the world. The model we have of the universe depends upon our view of ourselves. Each influences and permeates the other.

A concept similar to the Buddhist enlightenment. A Gaian, network concept where the embedded network is determined by its interactions with the surrounding network and in turn influences the surrounding network. A close parallel with subatomic physics where the behaviour of the particle is not determined until it is observed. The observer and observed are intimately linked and bound together.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Abbess of the convents at Bingen and Rupertsberg (which she established), was a philosopher, mystic, visionary, artist, poet, writer of treatises on theology, natural history, medicine, and composer of beautiful, haunting music. Describing herself as a 'feather on the breath of God', much of her work was derived from divine inspiration and visions. She saw that as God created all life, then all life must be permeated with His divine spirit.

 

	Oh fire of the Holy Spirit,
	life of the life of every creature,
	holy are you in giving life to forms ...
	Oh boldest path,
	penetrating into all places,
	in the heights, on earth,
	and in every abyss,
	you bring and bind together
	From you clouds flow, air flies,
	Rocks have their humours,
	Rivers spring forth from the waters
	And earth wears her green vigour

Hildegard von Bingen saw that Creation existed before Man, that it could survive without Man, that Man needed Creation in order to survive, and that the only purpose of Man's appearance in Creation was to glorify God's work and to act as His steward. God had to give Man reason in order to enable him to admire God's work and to act as His steward, but Man then used his reason to decide that he was wiser than God and could improve upon His handiwork.

God created the world out of the four elements, to glorify His name. He strengthened the world with the wind. And he filled the world with all kinds of creatures. He then put human beings throughout the world, giving them great power as stewards of all Creation. Human beings cannot live without the rest of nature, they must care for all natural things.

Mandela on the celestial influence on men, animals and plants Hildegard von Bingen transcribed many of her visions into paintings and illuminations. A central theme was the Web of Life and Cosmic Order. The Mandela on 'the celestial influence on men, animals and plants' illustrates the harmonious relationship between Man and the natural world according to Cosmic Law.

Parts of the Bible are much older than Genesis and contain fragments and hints of the Cosmic Covenant that Man made with God. It is by drawing on these earlier sources and writings that more recently Christian Theologians and Biblical scholars, Father Robert Murray, Margaret Barker, Vincent Rossi and others, have begun to question the traditional Biblical interpretation that Man was granted dominion over all God's creatures, ie granted the absolute right to exploit, and that instead there was a Cosmic Covenant and that Man's role was to help maintain the cosmic order for all of God's Creation.

Dominion can, and must if we are to prevent the collapse of Gaian order, be interpreted as stewardship, Man's role is to maintain the Gaian order of Creation. Man's covenant with God is to maintain the cosmic order, breach of the scared covenant will lead to war, pestilence, famine and environmental destruction.

The Book of Enoch is one of the oldest of the Old Testament era apocalyptic writings. Up until the 9th century the Book of Enoch was held in high esteem, then fell out of favour and vanished. Parts of the book have existed in Ethiopian, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts and was rediscovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. Later Slavonic and Hebrew manuscripts are probably later authors drawing upon earlier manuscripts. According to Genesis, Enoch 'walked with God and was no more, because God took him away' (Gen 5.24). Enoch's fall from grace, or mysterious disappearance may explain his status as a non-person, to be purged from the public record.

Enoch through two visions describes a Great Oath that Man made with God. The oath determines the order of Creation, and each its place and proper function within Creation. Breach of the oath will lead to judgement, wrath and destruction.

1 Enoch 69:16-21,25:

 

	And they are strong through his oath:
	And the heaven was suspended before the earth was created,
	And for ever.

	And through it the earth was founded upon the water;
	And from the secret recesses of the mountains come beautiful waters,
	From the creation of the world and unto eternity.

	And through that oath the sea was created,
	And as its foundation He set for it the sand against the time of 
	(its) anger,
	And it dare not pass beyond it from the creation of the world unto
	eternity.

	And through that oath are the depths made fast,
	And abide and stir not from their place from eternity to eternity,
	And through that oath the sun and the moon complete their course,
	And deviate not from their ordinance from eternity to eternity.

	And through that oath the stars complete their course,
	And He calls them by their names,
	And they answer Him from eternity to eternity ...
	And this oath is mighty over them,
	And through it [they are preserved and] their paths are preserved,
	And their course is not destroyed.

Gary Snyder, Zen Buddhist, poet, deep ecologist, in the Pulitzer Prize winning Turtle Island (1974), drawing on the North-American creation myth of the continent riding on the back of a giant turtle, draws up a Pledge of Allegiance, an oath to be sworn by all:

 

	For All

	... I pledge allegiance

	I pledge allegiance to the soil
		of Turtle Island
	and to the beings who thereon dwell
		one ecosystem
		in diversity
		under the sun
	With joyful interpenetration for all.

Breach of the sacred covenant will visit destruction upon the earth and its inhabitants (Isaiah 24:1): 'Behold, the Lord will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.'

Isaiah 24:4-6:

 

	The earth mourns and withers,
	the world languishes and withers;
	the heavens languish together with the earth.
	The earth lies polluted
	under its inhabitants;
	for they have transgressed the laws,
	violated the statutes,
	broken the everlasting covenant.
	Therefore a curse devours the earth,
	and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
	therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
	and few men are left.

As we cut down tropical rainforests, we visit drought and tropical storms upon the world; as we pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere we destabilise the climate; our pollution causes sharp increases in respiratory diseases; our unnatural industrial foods generate all manner of physical and mental ailments.

Only by restoring the Cosmic Covenant will we restore the Gaian order.

Joel describes the environmental destruction and laying waste of the land, and how this is eventually restored when the covenant is restored the land is returned to fertility and the people rescued from evil forces.

Vines are laid waste, fig-trees ruined, fields ruined, oil fails, wheat and barley, the harvest of the field destroyed, seeds are shrivelled, granaries and store houses lie in ruin, no pasture for the cattle, even the sheep are suffering, flames have devoured open pastures and burned the trees, even the wild animals pant as the streams have dried up (Joel 1).

Joel 2:3:

 

	Before them fire devours,
	behind them a flame blazes.
	Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
	behind them, a desert waste -
	nothing escapes them.

Following the destruction and laying of waste, restoration takes place when Man agrees to the renewing of the sacred covenant.

Joel 2:22:

 

	Be not afraid, O wild animals,
	for the open pastures are becoming green.
	The trees are bearing their fruit;
	the fig-tree and the vine yield their riches.

Joel 3:18:

 

	In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
	and the hills will flow with milk;
	all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
	A fountain will flow out of the Lord's house
	and will water the valley of acacias.

Following the cleansing of the world by the Great Flood, God entered a sacred covenant, an unconditional divine promise, with Man through Noah and all his descendants, never to destroy the Earth until the purposes of the Creation are realised.

Genesis 6:11-12:

Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.

Genesis 9:8-17:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 'I now establish my covenant with you and with every living creature that was with you ... every living creature on earth ... Whenever a rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth ... This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on earth.'

That God felt the need to wipe the slate clean, to purge the Earth of all corrupt forces, to sign a covenant not only with Noah as the representative of mankind but 'with every living creature on earth ... all life on earth' would imply that a previous covenant did exist between Man and God, and also makes clear that all creatures are equal in the eyes of God as the covenant is 'between me and all life on earth.'

A further Creation anomaly in Genesis, compared with the culture and myths of indigenous peoples, Eastern religions, and more ancient fragments and allusions in the Bible, is that the creation was a relatively tranquil. affair, not the result of some gigantic struggle between God and the forces of evil, or some demon or monster, where order holds sway over chaos. If order is wrought out of chaos, we have a Cosmic Covenant where the role of Man is to maintain Gaian order, to preserve and maintain the order of the Cosmos.

Psalm 74 is one of the rare places where we get a glimpse of this primordial battle of good over evil, order out of chaos, victory over dragons and a many-headed Leviathan. The description of the order of Creation, each within its bounds, a sacred covenant, is similar to what we are told in more detail in the Book of Enoch. The concept of order, the elements in their proper place, is repeated elsewhere: Job 38, Psalm 104:5-9, Psalm 148:6, and Proverbs 8:29. Jeremiah 5:22-23 contrasts the bounds kept by the elements (ie Gaian order) with the disobedience of Man.

Christianity contains the myth of St George fighting the dragon. In Herefordshire a church has, or had, a painting of a large dragon on the side of the church that could be seen for miles.

Kabbalists (Jewish mystics) view Genesis differently. In the opening words of Genesis they see order being created out of chaos.

And the earth was without form (tohu) and empty (bohu); and darkness was on the face of the deep (tohum).

The word tohu means chaos, implying the primordial chaos; bohu is emptiness, implying a container to be filled, a bound to constrain, the means to impose order.

In the Jewish tradition, the first five books of the Old Testament, the Torah, were dictated by God to Moses letter by letter. The order was important, and Jewish scribes who reproduced the Torah were given high status. Through meditation and detailed scrutiny of the Torah hidden meanings can be found within hidden meanings. Many of the techniques and the desire to achieve a form of oneness with the Holy One are similar to eastern techniques (Zen, Taoism, Buddhism).

The Torah can be viewed at many levels, the literal, the allegorical, and the hidden where meaning has to be sought.

Rabbi David A Cooper:

The Garden of Eden is one of the best known and least understood tales in biblical literature ... unfortunately ... the insight of Jewish mysticism ... rarely has been made available ... kabbalistic approach, we see clearly that the story of the Garden of Eden is a cosmology that far transcends the more commonly accepted versions.

The Hebrew text will use emphasis, repetition, and other techniques to reinforce the literal message or to get across a deeper meaning. This is seen in Genesis 1 where the text attempts to convey order. A subliminal level not found in King James or later translations that concentrate on putting across the surface meaning in a comprehensible and eloquent manner rather than preserving the Hebrew rhythms. This order and variants of it continue through the description of Creation, the structure of the narrative conveys order, the only exception being the opening words that deal with chaos. Albeit very faint hints compared with what we find still preserved in Isaiah, Job or Psalms of order being wrought out of chaos.

 

	God said: Let there be light! And there was light.
	God saw the light: that it was good.
	God separated the light from darkness.
	God called the light: Day! and the darkness he called: Night!

Genesis 1:3-5 (Revised King James):

And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

There is even less order in the New English Bible as there is less repetition of the word God.

God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light; and God saw that the light was good; and he separated light from darkness. He called the light day, and the darkness night.

Kabbalists see Adam and Eve as a duality, two opposites, yin and yang. They become separated and turn into separate entities. Adam was given the job of tending the Garden of Eden. But what was there to tend in Paradise where the trees bore fruit and were watered by the flowing river (cf with the punishment on eviction from the Garden of Eden where Adam had to toil to feed and clothe himself)? Adam's role was to maintain the cosmic order of which he/them Adam/Eve were a part.

At whatever level we look at Creation we see Gaian order: within an ecosystem the species create the microclimate, mould the habitat, which in turn provides the environment for the species to inhabit; within an organism the functioning organs maintain the organism, which in turn provides the environment for the organs; at the cellular level the parts of the cell maintain the cell, which in turn provides a safe and stable environment for the parts; at whatever level we look the sum of the parts maintains the whole and the whole sustains the parts. As ecologist Eugene Odum has noted 'the individual cannot survive for long without its population, any more than the organ would be able to survive for long as a self-perpetuating unit without its organism.' Any more than we can expect a normal child to emerge from a dysfunctional family, or a stable family to survive in an unstable society. The parts contribute to the maintenance of the whole and the whole supplies the stable environment for the parts.

The Earth is a living organism, the living creatures, plants, micro-organisms, geological substrate, mountains, rivers, oceans, atmosphere, all interconnect and interact to form a living whole, which in turn provides a stable planet suitable for life. Were the oxygen level too low we could not breathe, too high and a global conflagration would break out; were the carbon dioxide levels too low we'd have a cold dead planet, a little higher than now and global temperatures would soar.

Edward Goldsmith:

That the constituent parts of any natural system must strive to maintain its overall order is clear, because they evolved to fulfil their specific functions within it, and are thereby totally dependent on its preservation for their welfare and indeed for their survival.

Faith and religious teachings tell us we have a wise God, an infallible God. God worked hard, when he sat back and admired his handiwork, He 'saw that it was good.' If God thought that his Creation was good, would He have set out to deliberately destroy it? Would such a God grant Man dominion to destroy the Gaian order, or would He make a Cosmic Covenant whereby the role of Man is no different to all other parts of Creation, that is to maintain the Cosmic Order?

Psalm 1 alludes to Gaian order and Man's role in the maintenance of Gaian order.

Psalm 1:1-3:

 

	Blessed is the man
	who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
	nor stands in the way of sinners,
	nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
	but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
	and on his law he meditates day and night.

	He is like a tree
	planted by streams of water,
	that yields is fruit in its season,
	and its leaf does not wither.
	In all that he does, he prospers.

If the Genesis interpretation of Man's dominion over Creation is flawed then how has it arisen? The most likely explanation is the authoritarian Catholic Church. If Man holds dominion over all of creation, then the Church, as God's official representative on earth must hold dominion over all men. And in turn Kings have the divine right of absolute rule over their subjects.

Some eco-theologians have suggested that we move away from the Judaeo-Christian anthropocentric world-view by means of an Eleventh Commandment, introduce ecological awareness, deep ecology into Christianity. Whilst this has its merits (and would capture the spirit of what has been discussed thus far), and would certainly be preferable to the preaching of bigotry, it ignores the fact that the present world-view is based on false interpretation, and whilst the re-introduction of deep ecology into Christianity would not only be welcome but essential, the introduction of an additional commandment would present certain doctrinal difficulties, unless it is being suggested that Moses somehow lost one on his way down off the mountain. Ecological Theology could work hand-in-hand with Liberation Theology practised by too few priests.

Eleventh Commandment:

The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof: Thou shall not despoil the Earth, nor destroy the life thereon.

Leading Jewish theologians in turn are putting forward the concept of eco-kosher, whereby Jews obey the spirit as well as the letter of the law. A law designed for the well-being of a wandering desert tribe, rather than members of a global community. Is electricity from a nuclear power plant kosher, are the contents of a one-way bottle kosher? Is food contaminated with chemicals kosher, or even worse, is genetically modified food kosher?

Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Jewish sage and mystic-visionary):

We must give up the notion of legislation and take on the notion of discovering the laws of nature ... In this context, our old relationship as the child of a God-father, the subject of a God-king, or the defendant under the power of a God-judge would change to 'friend-friend, lover-lover, partner-partner' ... Not only are we God's partners - God is our partner too!

Anglo-Saxon and Norman churches are works of art, Man worshipping through his skills, an attempt to represent the Cosmos on a smaller, human-size scale. Sitting atop a once green hill (Ferneberga, Fern Hill) lies the Old Parish Church of Saint Peter, Farnborough. A Norman Church, that possibly occupies an older Saxon site. Spring 2000, posted in the entrance porch, was a multicoloured, rainbow-hued poster designed by the Benedictine Nuns of Turvey Abbey, bearing the Millennium Resolution: 'Let there be ... respect for the earth ... peace for its people ...'

In Zimbabwe, the African Independent Churches recognise and confess ecological sins, part of the work of the Healing Ministry is healing the Earth. At baptism, the holy water may often be returned to local indigenous trees, reconnecting the Church and a new member with Creation. Bishop Darkai Nhonga of Zimbabwe's Zion Christian Church says; 'The Church is the keeper of Creation'.

African Independent Church's tree-planting prayer:

 

	Our planting of trees today
	Is a sign of harmony
	Between us and Creation.

	We are reconciled with Creation
	Through the body and blood of Jesus
	Which brings peace,
	He who came to save
	All Creation.

Mathew 6:10:

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.

On Earth as it is in heaven, God's kingdom encompasses the Earth as well as heaven, all of Creation. Christianity is more than blind worship of a powerful God, more than seeking salvation of the soul, it is about a shared responsibility for all of Creation, for God's Earth and all the creatures that inhabit it, the keeping of a Cosmic Covenant that binds us all together.

Hanging on a wall in a friend's apartment, a picture showing the beauty of God's Creation, a dramatic waterfall in Argentina, together with the words (Salmo 8:1):

 

	Oh Jehová, Señor nuestro,
	Cuán gloriosa es tu nombre en toda la tierra!

In English (Psalm 8:1):

 

	O Lord, our Lord,
	How majestic is thy name in all the earth!

Psalm 24:1:

 

	The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
	the world and those who dwell therein;

Jesus of Nazareth:

Behold the lilies of the field, how they grow; neither do they toil, nor do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.

Hildegard von Bingen:

Those who trust in God will also honour the stability of the world: the orbits of the Sun and the Moon, winds and air, earth and water ... We have no other foothold. If we give up this world we shall be destroyed by demons and deprived of the angels' protection.

 


Web Resources

 

 


References

Margaret Barker, The Older Testament, SPCK, 1987

Margaret Barker, The Lost Prophet: The Book of Enoch and its influence on Christianity, SPCK, 1988

Margaret Barker, The Book of Enoch and Cosmic Sin, The Ecologist, January/February 2000

BBC, complex systems and self-organisation, In Business, Radio 4, BBC, 20 February 2000

Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Fontana, 1975

Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point: Science, Society and the Rising Culture, Simon & Schuster, 1982

Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter, HarperCollins, 1996

John Carmody, Ecology and Religion: Towards a New Christian Theology of Nature, Paulist Press, 1983

Ananda K Coomaraswamy, eds Keshavaram N Iengar & Rama P Coomaraswamy, Hinduism and Buddhism, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1999

Rabbi David A Cooper, God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, Riverhead Books, 1997

Bill Devall & George Sessions, Deep Ecology, Peregrine Smith, 1985

Edward Echlin, An African Church sets the example, The Ecologist, January/February 2000

Ranjit Fernando (ed), The Unanimous Tradition: Essays on the Essential Unity of All Religions, Sri Lanka Institute of Traditional Studies

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Everett Fox (ed & trans), The Five Books of Moses, Harvill Press, 1995

Mathew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Bear & Company, 1985

Mathew Fox (ed), Hildegard von Bingen's Book of Divine Works, Bear & Company, 1987

Edward Goldsmith, The Way: An Ecological World-View, Themis Books, 1996

Edward Goldsmith, Religion at the Millennium, The Ecologist, January/February 2000

Edward Goldsmith, Archaic Societies and Cosmic Order - A Summary, The Ecologist, January/February 2000

Mother Columbia Hart, Hildegard of Bingen, Paulist Press, 1990

Hildegard von Bingen, Secrets of God: Writings of Hildegard of Bingen, Shambhala, July 1996

Hildegard von Bingen, Canticles of ecstasy, HM/BMG CD {Sequentia/Barbara Thornton}

James Lovelock, Gaia, Oxford University Press, 1979

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Keith Parkins, Genetic Engineering - Paradise on Earth or a Descent into Hell?, September 1999

Keith Parkins, Gary Snyder, June 1999

Keith Parkins, Hildegard von Bingen, to be published

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Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind, Collins/Fount Paperback, 1971

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island, New Directions, 1974

Lynn White, The Historic Roots of Our Ecological Crisis, Science, 155, 1967

 

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