Can we live our lives sympathetic to the needs of the environment in which we live while our eyes look to heaven?
Gordon D Kaufman’s article, wherein he seems to blame Christianity for a lack of awareness of ecological matters, due to some false sense of entitlement that we receive through the knowledge that we are formed in the image of God, states “the traditional Christian understanding of humanity in relation to God, with its powerfully anthropomorphic God-image, tends to obscure and dilute, in Christian faith and theology, ecological ways of thinking about our human place in the world.” He further argues that nature becomes an enemy of God when evolutionary and ecological issues come to the forefront. These ideas seem to stem from some notion that we cannot become one with God and the environment, but rather the closer we come to connecting with God, the more ‘idolatrous’ we become. He believes that Christian religion is more focused on the human problems, such as “despair, anxiety, guilt, death, meaninglessness, sin, injustice, and so forth.”(Kaufman 149, 155)
In class last Monday Dr. Peck brought up the subject solipsism, which is exactly what I believe is the essence of Kaufman’s argument.
So I ask myself, can we strive to become like Christ and still be ecologically aware?
I share Thomas Berry’s view that “if we lose the environment, we will lose our sense of God as well”.(Haught 276) Joseph F Smith is quoted as saying “men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creatures…. Love of nature is akin to the love of God; the two are inseparable.” And in Mosiah we learn, “how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”(Smith 201)
I cannot imagine a God of love and mercy, who would turn his back on his creations. Thus it is in my opinion that if we strive to become more like Christ, who is one with his father, we must reverence his creations. I also believe that we are truly in preparation of becoming creators ourselves, and thus it is important that we learn what it means to be righteous stewards.
The Lord has put forth many symbolic rituals to help us understand the important covenants that we make. He does them in a way that we can relate with, or in other words he speaks to us in “our own language”. In order to do this, he must understand the human nature. So if we are to be stewards, we too should learn to understand and be sympathetic with the elements of nature so that we can execute righteous dominion.
While I will agree that it is often our inclination to be anthropomorphic in our perceptions of the world around us, and that that may lead us to be insensitive to the eccentricities of the natural world; I cannot conclude that in our efforts to become like God, that we will be turning our backs on the environment.
"all things unto [the Lord] are spiritual" (D&C 29:34; see also v. 35)
(Haught, John F."Christianity and Ecology" Reprinted from The Promise of Nature. pg 276)
(Smith, Joseph F, cited in George B. Handley, "The Environmental Ethics of Mormon Belief," BYU Studies 40, no. 2(2001): 201.)
(Kaufman, Gordon D. "The Theological Structure of Christian Faith and the Feasibility of a Global Ecological Ethic" Board of Zyon.pg 148-161)
The Book of Mormon