To Till and Keep—Sketching an Environmental Ethic

At the church I serve a group of adults has been doing a study on theology and the environment. I’ve been leading other things and have not been able to participate. I wish I could have listened-in somehow. It’s spring here in the lower Ottawa Valley. You would have to make a deliberate decision to avoid thinking about trees and garden plants. The book of Genesis says that God planted a garden with trees that were “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” This time of year that’s not hard to believe. If it’s not true—if it is not the case that in some awesome way a divine mystery has given us plants both beautiful and delicious—then evolution has wrought in us a misdirected instinct. If that transcendent and radically-near event we call ‘God’ has not given us the things of spring, then the beauty we see taking shape, which so readily evokes divine awareness in people of all creeds, has pointed us in the wrong direction. Continue reading “To Till and Keep—Sketching an Environmental Ethic”

Friends with the Everyday

I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said there was no such thing as society. The quote is usually taken out of context but has still come to symbolize the severity of modern individualism, just the sort of thing to send a shiver down the spine of a communitarian (like myself). Now, I think we’re actually becoming pretty conscious of the many drawbacks of the blinkered individualism Thatcher’s comment has come to (mis)represent. The new urbanism might be one example. Churches are another. Many churches have come to realize that nurturing community isn’t just preparation for the real work we do—it is itself an essential part of that work. But for all the doubtless good that comes with this renewed emphasis on community, I do worry that a form of relationship that lies between individualism and communitarianism is being overlooked. Continue reading “Friends with the Everyday”