Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ecologies of Grace, Chapter 5

November 19, 2009

Ecological spirituality asks questions such as ‘what is the value of this world?’ and ‘what is the place of humans, as both physical and spiritual creatures, in the created world?’ (p.93) A variety of approaches to this strategy, “each makes environmental issues matter for Christian experience by appealing to the ecological dimensions of fully Christian personhood.” They seek to articulate a radical relation of personhood and environment. While my pulse is not quickening as I read, I can get with this program a little more readily through remembering Ortega’s line from Meditations on Quixote, namely, “I am myself plus my circumstance.” Of course our environment is critical to and shapes who we are becoming. This strategy seems to have most in common with Eastern themes of deification and ‘the cosmic significance of personal communion’ and the like.

Jenkins takes us through various approaches to creation spirituality and what he dubs ‘sacramental ecology’, including one of my favorites: Teilhard de Chardin and his ‘spiritual cosmology’ seen through the lens of human evolution. He eventually comes to the question as to what all this transforming creativity of God is directed? (p.107) Without a clear answer as yet he heads into a survey of Eastern Orthodox thought and leaves us with the suggestion that ’wisdom’ or Sofia might be a fruitful path of enquiry.

Having surveyed the various ‘strategies’ and theological resources within them, I am still not persuaded that there is any other way for us to look at ‘nature’ except through human eyes. While that need not lead to a kind of irredeemable anthropo-centrism allowing us to use the resources of nature with no regard for ecosystems and other creatures , for example, I find it impossible to get my mind around the idea of some kind of ‘personhood[‘ or its equivalent being ascribed to ‘creation.’ The strategy that makes the most sense to me is that of stewardship as part and parcel of living into right relationship with God and all that God has made. Where do you find yourself amongs all these options presented thus far?

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