THEOLOGY AND NATURE July 17, 2013Posted by wmmbb in Global Warming (climate change), Humankind/Planet Earth, Nonviolence.
As we, and those human beings who follow us, confront climate change, not solely as a scientific theory, but as a lived experience, we may require a new ordering in the world.
Of course, acknowledging there are those those, including some among our leaders, who deny this reality. At the same time, we might reconsider indigenous, and ancient wisdom traditions more generally.
The founding story of Christianity was set in the frame of the Roman Empire both in the climate of the cross, and the paid sacrifice of animals in the Temple, that led up to it, and subsequent conversions that resulted in its’ adoption as the official religion, with privileges, in the Fourth Century. It was not closely related to the seasons, the bounty of nature, and the well being of agriculture. The pagani were the rural people. The Saxons, for example, like many others were to be, were converted by violence in its various guises.
By contrast, in the context of the killing of Trayvon Martin and the trial of the neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, Rabbi Michael Lerner suggests that Judaism has deeper and older origins. In this interpretation, it may be seen as representing ancient wisdom, similar in that respect to Hinduism. He writes:
Jewish theology holds that there is a karmic order, so that evil actions will not always run the world. Justice and compassion are both essential to the survival of the planet. Unlike many religions that focus on individual sinners and imagine that they will be punished in some future not currently verifiable—for example in a heaven or hell after life, or in a reincarnation in some form that provides rewards or punishments for how one lives in this world, most of Jewish theology sees karma as playing out on a societal scale, and over the long run.
So where’s the justice?
The answer that emerges from Jewish texts is this: God has created the earth in such a way that it cannot tolerate moral evil forever. There will be a judgment, but it will come to the entire society, not just to the perpetrator of evil. For the Jewish people, the Torah predicts that if we do not establish a just society in the Land of Israel the earth will vomit us out. And for all of humanity, we are taught that if the society is not based on the Torah principles of justice, peace, love for neighbors and love the stranger (the Other) there will be an environmental catastrophe and all human and animal life is potentially at risk of perishing. The reason we will all suffer for the harmful actions of a few is because we each bear responsibility for doing our part to bring tikkun to the world. So if we sit by in silence when people are suffering, the planet is being destroyed, etc. we are also responsible and will suffer for our inactions. The Torah takes a hard line on this—it calls for us to be bringing the issue of justice and fairness, love and generosity, peace and environmental sanity into every situation we find ourselves—both in the public arena and in our personal lives. We are urged to bring up these issues even when others may feel it inappropriate, when some people will tell us we should “lighten up” and should not always bring “politics” into the discussion, when our friends tell us that they don’t’ want to hear about things that are depressing. We should talk about them when we go to sleep at night and when we get up in the morning, teach this to our children, and right it upon the door posts of our houses and our gates. Merely complaining to a few friends is NOT enough.
Since “Rabbi” Jesus Christ was schooled in the Torah, why wasn’t he teaching the same theology? Perhaps he was, and somehow it was missed. Why was Jesus Christ, in the story as I understand it, so agitated about the killing of animals and the exchange of money in the Temple, a set of actions that lead directly to conviction of death by the religious establishment. The Roman Consul famously and demonstratively washed his hands of the outcome.
Diarmaid McCulloch reminds me of the influence the Greeks and Greek Philosophy, which possibly other influencing ideas, not least St Paul:
Anyway, the thesis that I am offering for scrutiny suggests a revision of other ideas which has brought to the stage of the relationships between indigenous peoples and settler societies and climate change and “The Death of Nature” (Carolyn Marchant) – the idea of the earth as nurturing organism, rather than an object of control and destruction, with disconnected objectivity as truth. Religion, which I understand means ‘binding back into the cosmos” may had a big role in framing world views, not excluding other related factors such as capitalism, individualism and private property. The idea that human beings are primarily evolved consciousness as a function of the universe is seemingly esoteric, which does make it wrong, with some foundation in Quantum Theory, perhaps more Heisenberg than Bohr. Go figure.
- Trayvon Martin and Tisha B’av: A Jewish Response (tikkun.org)
- Redefining Reform (blogs.timesofisrael.com)
- The Fallacy, Delusion and Myth of Tikkun Olam (algemeiner.com)
- The Talmudic Messianic Jew (mymorningmeditations.com)
Some References in relation to Dr Michael Nagler’s (and Stephanie’s) Talk:
There seems to me something very wrong with the court’s decision with respect to not charging defendant with either murder or manslaughter. Surely, fundamental civil rights triumph any letter of law? I imagine a jury is a panel of peers, that is people who can understand the situation, its context and the participants. To try to come to terms with what was going on, although not giving the legal insight, this article is excellent:
Zilah Eisenstein, White Female Jurors and Florida Justice (Common Dreams)