Wednesday, October 19, 2005

there is no 'away'

in a recent paper written for this week's Kingdom Conference, Howard Snyder writes this:
Recycle things rather than throwing them "away" realizing that waste products never really go "away."

There is no "away". It's all here...even if we do put it in a truck and drive down the road with it. After Dr Snyder delivered the opening chapel address yesterday morning i had a great chat to Clinton about the underlying problems with the lack of environmental concern among evangelicals. Clinton rightly pointed out that all the recycling in the world won't necessarily help people sense the urgent need for serious creation care. i suggested that perhaps there can be significant change if disciplines like recycling are 'means of grace'..that is to say, if they really become as formative in our lives as older Christian traditions such as prayer and gathering together each week. At the heart of this transformation will be a de-comodification of the earth....we will learn (again) that WE ARE PART OF THE CREATED WORLD. it reminded me of this great rant from Wendell Berry (source):

We need to quit referring to the world as “the environment.” That phrase proposes that the world merely surrounds us, is external to us, is “out there.” If that were so, our problems would be fewer and simpler. But in fact the world is not something “out there” that we have or own. The so-called “environment” doesn’t stay put. We are in it and it is in us. We breathe it in and out. We drink it, eat it, and excrete it. When it is degraded, we are degraded; when it is poisoned, we are poisoned. Calling the world “the environment” suggests to too many people that they can abuse it free of charge. By calling the world by its right name, we would make it far easier to say to the polluters, spoilers, and wasters (including, of course, ourselves): “This is our world. We (and you too) are the world’s people. What we do to it we do to ourselves and to one another and to our children. What we do to others, even or enemies, we do to ourselves.

1 comment:

billy said...


This is a very informative and helpful perspective on the question of creation and its place in our thinking about how we live out the gospel. Berry's observation about the problematic aspects of the word "environment" is an excellent one that really makes a lot of sense to me. I suppose that in a way using the word "environment" instead of the word "creation (to which we are inextricably linked) does tend to make the whole affair of living "in the world" sound kind of like a football game played at a particular venue: "today's game of life will be played out at the Environmental Stadium-feel to trash it out because we will have a groundcrew come and clean up the trash afterword." I guess I have tended to view the world around me as being more like a sports venue designed for my own enjoyment than I have as a personal creation whose health and vitality is fundamentally linked to my own health and vitality. Stadiums age and the owners of the team and the fans press for a new and better venue for the games. However, creation is not a stadium and it cannot be replaced for the next season.
Berry's comment also reminds me of an excellent observation made about creation by liberation theologian Leonardo Boff. In one of his books on the Christian perspective on ecology, he makes the comment that "everything that exists in the world co-exists." At first glance it seems like an abstract statement that is perhaps hard to decipher (destroys the perverse western genius for abstraction by using its very own formulas?). However, when you look at it for a minute it suddenly becomes the most obvious, almost self-evident, fact of existence. Everything is linked together in a web of interdependent relationships, and you cannot change or destroy one part without expecting consequences in all the others. This is something that our native american forebears (on the land at least), probably understood far better than any of us. But many of us are far too afraid of the creeping threat of "paganism" to genuinely listen and learn from them, and by so doing ultimately go deeper into the mystery of our faith and the living God who encompasses it. Thanks so much for this thoughtful post.........