Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Creation Care

The theme of the gathering was creation care.  We gathered, and we sang.  Drums were beaten, because we are liberal.  Good warm words were spoken, some of them Hebrew, because we are Presbyterian.  Earnest songs were sung, in delightful harmony.  At the end of the event, we were given a charge:  Go home, and share your reflections on creation care.

So I shall.

There is an assumption among religious liberals, and a well meaning one, that we care for creation because it is so terribly fragile.  Here we are, dumping plastic into our seas, and filling our shallow skies with the carboniferous flatulence of our strange, anxious busyness.  Poor creation, we think.  Poor dolphins and butterflies and baby penguins, we think.  We must protect our poor fragile planet, we think.

And we must.

There is also an assumption among religious liberals that we should protect creation for aesthetic reasons.  Because it is beautiful.  I don't for a moment dispute this.  Seas and stars, storms and aurora?  Beautiful.  Life itself, from the tiniest budding crocus to the serene majesty of a blue whale?  Amazing, complex, miraculous.  I am deeply sympathetic to this position.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, God's power throughout the universe displayed, as the old hymn sings it.

But these are not the only reasons why I drive a hybrid, nor is are they why I am vegetarian.  They are not why I live lean, or why I personally do what I can to minimize my impact on that which God has placed around me.

I also do these things because God's creation scares the crap out of me.

Lord have mercy, does no one read Jack London any more?

The delicate balance of our planet's ecosystem, to which we've spent the last couple of billion years adapting?  It's still harsh, but nowhere near as harsh as it will become if we do not shake the opium dream of our modern era hubris.  If we do not correct our foolish assumption that God's creation owes us anything.

Creation does not.  It is red in tooth and claw.  It is as implacable as the rising sea, or the storm that scours and shatters.  It is a terrifying thing.

And that's just our tiny blue speck of a planet.  When I say the words "God's Creation," I don't think of the Earth.  "Creation" is not a synonym for "Earth" to me.  Not at all.

I think of all of it.  All thirteen point something billion years of this spacetime, stretching gigaparsecs beyond the parochial scale of our imaginings.  And beyond, into a multiversal infinity that goes deeper still, deeps beyond deep.

God didn't just make this small rocky world, after all.  You look up to the twinkling stars, so pretty in the sky?  That's a great yawning vastness, filled with fire and emptiness and poison, where life hangs on by a thread.  In most of it, we homo sapiens sapiens can survive about five seconds, assuming there's no explosive decompression involved.

Creation is not just our world, and we need to take "care" of it in the way that we take "care" when we go swimming with a Carcharadon carcharias.

Oddly enough, the humans who lived at the time that the Bible was written were more than aware of this.  The storm and the fire and the sea were terrifying.  The One who made them all, even more so.  Life was short and death was ever present.

But we moderns are coddled fools, wrapped in a few hundred fleeting years of industrial agriculture and fossil fuels and a false sense of our own power.  We whisper lies to ourselves, in the closed mind of our #collectivedelusionchambers.

Our little bit of earth does not care about our desires at all.  If we sabotage our ecosystem, and the ensuing tumult of five thousand years of warming leaves another, less maladaptive species to rise in our place?  Creation would continue on.  The epochal spasm of mass extinctions that could wash us away would mean little to our world.  It would matter even less on the true scale of creation.

But what of God?  I mean, God does care, right?



God also lets us reap the harvest we have sown.  No matter what that harvest might be.