Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few thoughts toward Earth Day

Nah, it's not on the Church Calendar, although there have been discussions of building a Creation theme into the fall/early winter - the end of the long, green Pentecost season and the preparation for Advent's prophecies of the new creation in Christ.

If a fond memory is right, a copy of this tapestry ^ was the backdrop of a chapel dedicated to prayer for the environment at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC. It represents a scene from the Acts of the Apostles, in which Paul and Barnabas dissuade a crowd from offering animal sacrifice.

Generally speaking, when Christian faith is put into the service of any movement (Divine Right of Kings, Civil Rights, you name it) the Christian content eventually leaks out and something all too worldly is left. Christians tend to be the original "useful idiots" of many causes. So it would be with "Christian Environmentalism." Everything pointing to God will be removed and we'll be left with the occasional picture of Jesus (or some vaguely spiritual guy with a beard) composting in Birkenstocks while we write hymns and prayers to shrubs.

But the Bible's message, taken as a whole, is that the creation is a good gift from the Creator, for our responsible and reverent use. Sane efforts to manage, preserve and share the world's resources can engage all people of good will - Christians add to this a special vocation to lift up thankful prayer to the Creator.


The Archer of the Forest said...

I am rather leery of wedding the church to secular issues or messages for this and other reasons. I think that is a shame because I think there are some very solid Christian themes that you can use for things like Earth day like Stewardship and the entire book of Revelation for that matter when the Father draws all things back unto himself. I preached a little on that on Sunday.

But, yes, I agree that often the unique, life saving Christian message can often leak out and nothing is left by a straw man church.

caheidelberger said...

Wait: you mean Jesus didn't wear Birks? ;-)

That's a tricky balance you have to strike, embracing the world and the work you are called to do in it, yet keeping at arm's length the earthly institutions (movements, political parties, governments) who would co-opt your energy and ethos for their potentially (inevitably?) corrupting purposes. Christianity isn't easy, is it?

TLF+ said...

Seems like C.S. Lewis wrote something about the dangers of "Christianity and ---." Can't remember if it was a stand alone essay or in one of his books. Oh well, you guys already got the point.

In one of Susan Howatch's novels, a Vicar gets investigated for spouting all kinds of heresy from the pulpit. Turns out the guy was a believer, but was sinking into depression due to a somnolent congregation and boring life. He was just trying to wake things up. I think that's how some Christians go overboard with causes - their faith gets familiar and boring. It is like having an affair.