I wrestle with what Holy Spirit asks of me. Since I swim in the waters of the empire called the USA, I’m blinded by my culture. This full moon the Spirit presents stronger than ever as Gaia. I’m reflecting this month on Native American voices that I heard in a book Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversing on Creation and Land Justice.
Can I go deeper in looking for how to live justly on this earth? Climate vulnerability offers me a chance to be more faithful. Solar panels and divesting from fossil fuels, and eating local foods is a good start. I’m striving to switch my electric use off of coal and dirty energy. However, hear me out. These are tactical changes, not fundamental changes. We’re in a big mess, lakes are turning into cesspools and plastic regales our oceans. What I need is a structural, molecular, a quality of Light change. Hope demands that I flourish in this work—it is possible to thrive under climate devastation.
There are many ways to clean up the earth: to detoxify sky/sea/land is a fine place to start. When conversing with Native Americans I have realized this isn’t enough. Clean up and lowering my footprint isn’t going to build sustainable lifestyle–one that will enrich the 7 generations. How do I realign my life? I need an adjustment treatment which entails a remake of Christianity.
One person who instructs me was Lawrence Hart, a Cheyenne leader living in Oklahoma. He explains that his religion is embodied in art and ritual. Traditional knowledge of our homeland, the place that birthed us is more than prayers and parables. The understanding of our Creation needs to be enacted in the community, in sacred ceremony. During communal moments you join in a reciprocity that hums with power.
Someone said in Quaker meeting today said Christians need to provide for our neighbors the 4 essential needs, ‘clean air, water, housing and food.’ This is a good start but Native peoples would not have ignored the land, which feeds us. I notice how we often
take the earth for granted: a healthy earth too. Christians, starting with Genesis, treat the Earth and plants like objects.
Let’s look at the stories we tell about creation. These stories, like the breath of life, form our livelihood on Gaia. Eden is not just a place. It is our womb. The plants are not made for our horticulture. We know that Genesis 1,2 narrates a different account of creation than Genesis 3. In the Beginning, humans enter a world whose origins are beneficent and bountiful. There is no need for human techo/diva control or improvement. Woman and man are embedded in a living biosphere. Genesis 2 says that God placed humans on the planet to “serve and preserve” it. They are related with other creatures. Genesis 2:22 holds a Hebrew word play “woman” (ishshah) is woven with the body of “man” (ish): the relationship can be seen as solidarity, not hierarchy.
Ched Myers, an activist theologian, explains how western Christianity’s worldview is linked with the ethos of “social Darwinism” on which we hedge our bets. We believe that human history, since the cavemen, has slowly and steadily climbed out of primitive ignorance. We’ve ascended towards better and better technology and economic sophistication. Cosmopolitan lives are superior. We fabricate the hierarchy of Third World and First World countries.
The earth is us. We are interdependent with animals. There is a relational dynamic between mountains with coal and us. Where is the harmony in mountain-top removal for coal? Let us rethink and remake ourselves interwoven with divine creation.
“The time has come for a second discovery of America” Hart says. His article is appropriately called, “the Earth is Song made Visible.” (An Anabaptist perspective on a Sustainable World, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).