World Views — God, Me, Environment

When the resources are gone....

Terry Tempest Williams is a favorite writer of mine, not only because she writes of the environment, the living and physical world we live in, but because the God-view that is woven through her writing is familiar to me, close to my own. Williams talks of the consciousness of being in the world in an article in the online The Progressive.  She then compares that consciousness to the “world view” held by many scornful of  environmentalism, specifically naming current GOP candidates Santorum, Gingrich and Romney. Williams quotes Santorum:

Consider Rick Santorum’s recent comments to Bob Schieffer on Face The Nation, when he said Barack Obama’s “world view” is different than that of most Americans. The day before, Santorum had said that the President believes in “some phony ideal, some phony theology . . . not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”

When Schieffer asked him to clarify his statements, Santorum said that he was referencing not the President’s faith but environmentalism.

“Well, I was talking about the radical environmentalists,” he said. “That’s what I was talking about: Energy, this idea that man is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth. . . . I don’t believe that that’s what we’re here to do.”

“The Earth is not the objective,” Santorum said. “Man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down.”

The most frightening thing about Santorum’s comments are that so many people have the same world view.   Many seem to have no consciousness of the reciprocity, the symbiosis in our existence in this world.   We have become parasites of the highest order, sucking the life out of all that has been supporting us.

Williams includes this from Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), an anthropologist who saw human beings as part of a system:

If you put God outside and set him vis-à-vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks . . . against the environment of other social units, other races, and the brutes and vegetables. If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic byproducts of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.

I cannot say it better so will simply repeat Bateson’s pronouncement while thanking Terry Tempest Williams for her essay on the need for consciousness.

Life undisturbed

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic byproducts of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.

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Without Love

I was born and raised a Mormon. I was taught that there is a God in heaven who created this world, this Earth– every rock, raindrop and living thing in it. With love for his children he gathered matter and created a world that would not only sustain life but that would be a “garden,” full of beauty and peace, where his creations would live together in fulfillment of this stage of our being.

And then there was The Fall. Having created this world, God stepped back and left us in charge. So we left the garden and began to till the ground. Only, we’ve forgotten the essential element– that spirit or soul of the garden, that which mortals cannot recreate– God’s love, his sharing of this wondrous creation with us, his children. Without love for the creation we cannot hope to prove ourselves as good stewards. Without love for the creation, we merely deconstruct through our digging up and tearing down of the natural world, and crudely attempt to reconstruct based on our own mortal-centered desires of “what it should be,” “what it can give me,” “how it will make me stronger/richer/more powerful.” We have forgotten or simply ignore the other necessary elements of the garden as we try to build and live in our world independent of and with little regard for the other life as well as the sustaining but non-living elements–air, water, soil.

We cannot simply dig our way back into God’s garden nor will the garden that we build be like his, especially if it is shaped as it would be by our consumption-based greedy artificiality. Without true and deep God-like love for the earth, the life and systems that make it His, our Fall from God’s garden continues and we will move farther and farther from him.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

–Genesis 1:31

For the beauty of the Earth