Friday, March 12, 2010

Ecological Christianity?



Nostalgia naturally brings about great longing for the past due to uneasiness with the present and uncertainty of the future. In the supposed-to-be-better past, there was apparent certainty of truths and morals as assiduously imparted by religious authorities, who, as ordained divine representatives, were believed to be, and who believed themselves to be, in possession of direct access to the font of divine truths and wisdom. A Christian’s “conduct was supposed to be construed or directed by exalted and invisible entities,” which Don Cupitt termed as ethical frame, “of rather obscure status.”[1] This frame dictated the morally correct roads to thread on, the limitations or boundaries of conduct to be within, and the rules, commands, regulations and prohibitions to be faithfully and respectfully obeyed and observed.[2] The sacralization and mystification of this frame from the theological point of view, however, hid a simple fact that this frame, far from being considered to be of divine origin, is “merely cultural,” that is, “we evolved it, and it is still changing.”[3] Because the frame was culturally bound, and ours was not the only culture existing, other cultures also produced frames of ethical guidelines different from our own that were also evolving and changing.[4] The historical-critical technique in biblical theology was extended to moralism resulting in rapid demythologization of the entire realm of the ethical. From an exalted position it was brought down to the level where its low origins were revealed so that a “suspicion grew that morality is very often a figleaf, a deception, a cloak for something else.”[5] The understanding that the ethical had human, cultural origins, however, resulted in setting up standards in ourselves and in our own values being redesigned, “as feminist writers are now trying to do with man-woman relationship.”[6]

Today more and more people are coming to the realization that the damage being done by humans to Nature cannot be overlooked anymore so that they are taking drastic steps to commit themselves to saving the environment. A much greater number, however, continues to show indifference to ecological crisis for reasons of greed and material gains. Others are apparently resigned and hope (against hope) that somehow and sometime, Nature will recover herself and everything will be fine. In the midst of the current ecological crisis, a Christian cannot ignore what is happening to Nature. To be a Christian in the 21st century demands an ethic that deals not only with equal relationships among humans, but more so with relationship of humans to non-humans, both organic and inorganic. This ethic is to be guided by a new vision to a more creative way on the face of the inevitable global ecological crisis. Thomas Berry refers to the ‘story of the universe,’ from which emanate a person’s appreciation of the meaning of existence, the ‘psychic energy’ necessary to deal with moments of crisis not only in one’s personal life but also in that of the community and society, and from which flow the visions for guidance in the future.[7] “The deepest crises experience by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation.”[8] St. Augustine’s The City of God provided a new Christian vision that enabled western civilization to extricate itself from despair brought about by the barbarians’ sacking of Rome in 410 C.E. St. Francis of Assisi presented a new way to an authentic Christian living being eclipsed by the increasing trade and commerce in the 13th century. A new secular vision of ‘progress’ initiated by Francis Bacon early in the 17th century aimed at subjugating Nature through Science to produce a better material world.[9] The last two centuries witnessed the fulfillment of this vision in the Industrial Age that became the catalyst for hastening the exploitation of Nature resulting in the current global ecological crisis. This vision of progress is not only outdated but more significantly a failure in the face of great division between the North and the South and of great devastation to the planet. Humanity urgently needs a new vision, for

[t]he issue now is of a much greater order of magnitude, [since] we have changed in a deleterious manner not simply the structure and functioning of the human society: we have changed the very chemistry of the planet, . . . [and its] biosystems . . . that have taken hundreds and even billions of years [for Nature] to bring into existence. . . . These new events [of global scale] require a new historical vision to guide and inspire new creative period not only in the human community, but also in the functioning of the earth itself.[10]


There is no place in Nature that has not been tampered with by human beings:[11] under the ground with humans’ search for water, metals and minerals especially hydrocarbons; on the ground with the building of dams resulting in alteration of the natural flow of rivers, irrigation and land cultivation that demands use of water resulting in raising of water tables and salinity, and deforestation; and above the ground with chemicals and noxious gases being pumped out into the atmosphere. “A systematic assault has been mounted on [the earth’s] wealth in the soil, the subsoil, the air, the sea and the outer atmosphere.”[12] The seas and the oceans have been considered as an infinite sink for man-made effluents.

The unprecedented assault on Nature has brought about massive changes on the earth’s biological and physical systems resulting in drought, famine and hunger, global warming,[13] desertification, deforestation, pollution, and extinction of species and other life forms.[14] The thinning of ozone layer[15] that prevents the excessive bombardment of harmful portion of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation is strongly believed to contribute to an increasing incidence of skin cancer and weakening of the immune system, and to the depletion of the ocean’s microscopic planktons, the bottom in the oceanic food chain.[16]

That there is a crisis in ecology is generally accepted, but that it is a worsening crisis seems to be pathologically denied. This denial goes on despite very certain, very severe repercussions not only on humanity but also on other life forms with humanity’s actions causing in 1999 daily loss of 297 square kilometers of rainforest, desertification of 184 square kilometers of tillable land, extinction of between 40 to 100 species of life forms, and daily increase of 250,000 in human population and daily injection of chlorofluorocarbons by 2700 tons in the atmosphere to which was also pumped carbon by 15 million tons.[17] Humanity, as it were, is “saturated with a particular kind of ethics which happens to be pathological but which doesn't get much talked or thought about.”[18] The future generation who will inherit the consequences of man-made ecological disasters will condemn us of the current generation and those of the past for thoughtlessness, selfishness and greed despite being considered as creatures supposed to have reached the highest level of consciousness.

Humanity, a newcomer in creation, seems bent on destroying within a very minute span of time what Nature has taken to build in billions of years. How very late the arrival of humanity can be determined when the time from the Big Bang is compressed in one year. It took place on January 1. Our galaxy was formed on May 1. During September, the solar system came to exist on the 9th and the earth on the 14th. On the 25th, life began. Our hominid ancestors appeared on December 30, and the first human beings on December 31. Jesus was born on 11:59:56 PM. and the modern world started on 11:59:58 PM. Each of us living now came on the very last fraction of 11:59:59. It is only in the very last two seconds when the massive destruction to the environment has been carried out by humanity that has been existing only in the last two minutes of creation.[19]


Before a Christian in the 21st century can make a moral stand and adopt a new ethic in the face of ecological crisis and eventual humanity’s self-destruction, she/he has to understand how humanity has arrived at the present crisis. Even Pope Paul II admitted that the ecological crisis was a moral issue and that the destruction of environment was not only a danger to humanity but also a sin against God.[20] For a Christian to take an ethical, moral stand for the environment, she/he has to seriously consider how to view the world, determine humanity’s relationship not only to fellow human beings, but more importantly to the rest of creation, and finally discover what God wills for the world.[21] A starting point is how humanity has ended up with the kind of apparent pathological ethics reflected in constant assaults on the environment, “a pathology beyond adequate description or comprehension.”[22]

The consideration of ethics pertinent to ecology and from socio-historical point of view cannot be divorced from biblical theology. The primary text that comes to mind is the divine admonition in the Old Testament: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen 1:28). Human beings were created to be the caretakers of the earth according to the original Jewish and Christian traditions that proclaim the “kindness of the God of the oppressed; the playfulness of the Word” incarnated in human frailty; and the “presence of the Spirit dwelling within the entire universe with its energies.”[23] The text, however, has been interpreted very much more from the dominating point of view wherein humanity can do what pleases him in dealing with Nature rather than from the viewpoint of stewardship in which Nature is entrusted by God to humanity to care and look after for future generations. The former was adopted in Western Christianity in which humanity was viewed as the be-all and end-all of creation, not only with the right but also with the sacred duty and obligation to “conquer, subdue and have dominion over nature.”[24] Humanity, associated with spirit or reason, is superior to Nature, associated with matter or the human body (eventually with a woman). As the apex of creation, singled out and destined for eventual union with the divine, humanity was the only being that has value in her/himself. St. Augustine claims that Nature has no place in the Kingdom of God.[25] The rest of creation has values only because humans have given them.

Humanocentrism was reinforced by the early scientific thought that the earth was the center of the universe, around which all heavenly bodies revolved. Copernican discovery in the sixteenth century shattered both the scientific and religious beliefs of the day but the theme of human domination over Nature prevailed. It persisted even in the secular ethics of the 17th century humanism which replaced God with man and divine revelation with reason. Cosmology, through the influence of Copernicus, Newton, Kepler and Decartes, was dualist and rationalist in character – anything is either matter or spirit.[26] Nature, viewed as a huge machine consisting of different parts that can be dismantled and studied and operating smoothly and predictably according to precise mathematical laws, is a closed system. It is a giant clock set in its predictable operation and watched by a distant, transcendent clockmaker God mostly uninvolved and not considered necessary in its continuing existence. The abandonment of this notion with the advent of modernity and the onslaught of Darwinism that exposed that humanity was a mere part of the very slow and long process of evolution did not really eliminate anthropomorphism. Although most Christians came to accept discoveries in Science, these were not reflected in the way they lived, believed and held to old attitudes. Permeating through all these changes was the concept of anthropocentrism with its dominant male emphasis and speech, which according to feminist scholars gave birth to “sexism [which] with its twin faces of patriarchy and androcentrism” has pervaded society and the church and has become a “social sin [that] has debilitating effects on women both socially and psychologically, and interlocks with other forms of oppression to shape a violent and dehumanized world.”[27] Anthropocentrism is the summation all the “imperial and anti-ecological anthropology at work in the contemporary dreams, projects, ideals, institutions and values.”[28] Everything exists only for the human beings. Anthropocentrism has been under attack for the unqualified privileging of humanity at the expense of, and in great detriment to, other life-forms in particular and to Nature in general. The growing concern on the plight of Nature is gradually, but surely, weakening anthropocentrism.

The instrument that gave humanity the effective means to fully damage Nature is technology that is energy hungry, dirty, polluting and destructive. Ecologically destabilizing, it made possible the systematic exploitation of natural resources, soil poisoning, and deforestation and greatly contributed to atmospheric contamination, chemicals in foods, and so forth. The concept of unlimited progress or growth in development has also contributed to the ecological crisis in the target of getting the greatest benefits within the shortest time and the least cost.

From an ecological standpoint, the dream of unlimited growth means the invention of destructive (rather than productive) forces and the historic and social production of illness and death of the Earth’s species and of everything composing the Earth.[29]

The earth’s resources were considered limitless in supplying the necessary raw materials. Destructive forces were unleashed to exploit natural resources to maintain unlimited production of wealth. All in the name of progress at the expense of the earth and our own peril! On the face of the impending global crisis, humanity may entertain the delusion that somehow it will survive “whether it be a nuclear holocaust (possible but unlikely), chronic oxygen-depletion due to pollution of air and water (quite possible), or mass extinctions due to global warning (likely).”[30] The earth existed for billions of years without humanity and there is no question it can exist in the long future without humanity. Regardless of what humanity inflicts on the earth, it is resilient and can hit back.[31]



The current ethic of society in the western world is centered on utilitarianism and anthropocentrism. The last four hundred years of humans’ relationship with the Earth with “false ethical premises” as its basis produced a deep “spiritual vacuum” characterized by “anthropocentrism, denial of the relative autonomy of beings, domination of the Earth, plunder of its resources, and disregard for the spiritual depth of the universe.”[32] Humans can make use of other non-human beings and things in the world without consideration of their intrinsic values. For humanity, all these animate and inanimate aspects of creation exist only for the sake of humans who believe themselves to be the “crown of the evolutionary process and the center of the universe.”[33]

In a Christian-of-the-21st-century’s subscription to an ecological ethic, with the natural world in the foreground, things are to be given values different from those resting on power, money and greed pervasive in today’s dominant society. “It seems that the ecological crisis is a crisis of [our] culture” connected to the loss of sacredness or sacrality of Nature – not that it is sacred in herself but rather worthy of reverential treatment when associated with the Divine.[34] Seldom considered a living thing, the earth, nevertheless, functions like a gigantic organism, “operating according to heartbeats or time-pulses almost too vast to comprehend.”[35] Photographs of the earth taken from moon revealed the following:

Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the Earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. The photographs show the dry pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dead as an old bone. Aloft floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising Earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. . . . It has the organized, self-contained look of a live creature. (Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell, Viking, New York, 1974).[36]

A new culture is emerging which looks at the planet with concern and respect. As Cupitt stated that each ethical frame was the product of a culture, a new ethical frame is coming out of the culture for respect and well-being of the planet. The new ethic is to involve developing “a sense of limit of human desires” with their tendency for “individual advancement at the cost of class exploitation, subjugation of peoples, and gender oppression;” a sense of solidarity with those of the future generation who will inherit the consequences of our treatment of the planet; and finally, a sense of recognition of the rights of non-human beings to autonomous existence since they have been here very long time before us and without us.[37] Even inanimate rocks have intrinsic values as they, more than how they are physically and chemically composed, relate to biosphere by interacting with the world’s climate through contact with the atmosphere and influence on the hydrosphere.[38]

The ecological ethic is to be based on the authentic, original interpretation of Gen 1:28, with humanity in the stewardship of the planet in the “presence of the Spirit dwelling within the entire universe with its energies.”[39] The emergence of new awareness of the Spirit in the 70s had brought about a new kind of spirituality among various groups of Christians of different denominations, who, despite their contradictions and ambiguities, are united more in the pursuit of living encounter of the Spirit rather than in grasping a church doctrine on the Divine.[40] It is a spirituality that involves the redemption and salvation of the entire creation, not of individual souls as preached by the traditional version of Christianity with its prevailing anthropocentric view of salvation wherein humans alone have a future. It is not really an entirely new spirituality but somehow a harkening to that of Francis of Assisi who “lived an incomparable ecological experience and who was able to discover traces of God in every manifestation of the universe,”[41] and for whom the whole creation as “touched by forgiveness and new life brought by Christ” through the Spirit is a sign of divine love and generousity.[42] God loves the entire creation which loves God in return, a new and radical thinking in the church at that time.

The Spirit permeates everything, including the earth. The new ethic recognizes the role of the Spirit who is God (Jn 4:2) and who is life (Rom 8:10) and the spirit in every being. There is no dichotomy between spirit and matter. Matter is not the opposite of spirit, but death is, the realm of which includes all processes leading to it - structures resulting in dehumanization and “organized expressions of the assault against nature and community around the planet.”[43] The last decades of the previous century saw attempts to carry out the difficult task of arriving at a new morality or ethic that would have “at its heart a lifestyle for which all people and the healing of the sick earth” that expounded the following: personal morality no longer good enough since people and non-people in Nature have qualitative, intrinsic values; responsibility for the protection of environment for the future generations; recognition of the finite limits of the earth and of any endangerment to environment as a crime against humanity and Nature; moral obligation towards non-human creatures; and responsibility for the suffering of, and harm done to, animals as the results of human actions.[44]

Closely associated with ecological issues are justice issues, for “ecological deterioration hits the poor, the weak, [and] the vulnerable.”[45] As more desertification takes place, air becomes more polluted, water becomes scarcer and food less plentiful, the lines between the rich and the poor, and the powerful and the powerless will become more acutely drawn. Since the most basic meaning of justice is fairness, then “ecology and justice are inextricably intertwined, for on finite planet with limited resources to support its many different kinds of beings, both human and nonhuman, sharing fairly is an issue of highest priority.”[46]

Any ecological ethic must always take into account the structures of social domination and exploitation that mediate domination of nature and prevent concern for the welfare of the whole community in favor of the immediate advantage of the dominant class, race, and sex. An ecological ethic must always be an ethic of eco-justice that recognizes the interconnection of social domination and domination of nature.[47]

The dualisms of reason/emotion, culture/nature and spirit/matter are very strongly challenged by ecological feminists, or ecofeminists. Women can better understand the oppression of Nature through their own experiences in the anthropomorphic, androcentric society. Ecofeminists have discovered that the oppression of women and of Nature are strongly interconnected and that Nature and women have values and meanings only in fulfillment of the roles imposed by anthropomorphism. Any analysis of dualisms necessitates the inclusion of ecological insights. From the point of view of animistic believers and ecological feminists, “ethics must find a way to include feeling, but including does not mean excluding reason” through which can envisioned “a new way of seeing the world and to strive for a new way of living in the world [with humans and non-humans] as co-members of the ecological community.”[48]

A contributing factor to the current ecological crisis is the loss of connectedness both to our fellow human beings and to non-human beings, more particularly the land. The loss, however, is not entirely complete, and the recovery can be made possible through half of humanity, the women, and through a small minority in humanity, the indigenous people. For them everything is alive. Indigenous peoples around the world are united by deep concern for forests and land[49] where trees are beings, asleep in winter, smiling in spring, copious mother in autumn, and “a harsh old woman in summer.”[50] Despite the onslaught of modern civilization, they have managed not only to keep, but more importantly to further develop their way of life “deep in communion with the larger life systems of the Earth, with the spirit of world of the mountains and rivers and valleys, and with all those living forms that exist in the planet.”[51] To their voices and women’s, long ignored by anthropomorphic, androcentrist, patriarchal society, but never completely silenced, the new ethic demands that humanity listen. The new ecological ethic for the Christian-of-the-21st-century, therefore, is no other than a land ethic. Appropriately quoting the deep ecologist Aldo Leopold, McFague expounds that this ethic is “an ethic toward the land that no longer sees it ‘like Odyseus’ slave girls’ as still property, as ‘still strictly economic, entailing privileges, but not obligations;’” an ethic, having at its aim ‘to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community,’ that is an “example of living appropriately on the land, refusing to live the lie that we are the conquerors, the possessors, the masters of the earth;” and finally, an ethic that deals with the space that all created things share: “the land, oceans, and the atmosphere that comprise the planet.”[52] Humanity has to ensure that the consequences of his actions prevent the continuing destruction of animate and inanimate beings and preserve the “future conditions of life.”[53] The salvation of Nature can still be realized by the re-awakening of mystical bonding, although lost in the West, between humans and the natural world; by the recovery of the capacity to hear the voices of the seas, the valleys, the seas, the moon and the stars; by the regaining of the “experience communicated by various animals, an experience that was emotional and esthetic, but even more than that.”[54]


Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988.

Boff, Leonardo. Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor. New York: Orbis, 1997.

Cobb, Jr., John B. Is It Too Late?: A Theology of Ecology. California: Bruce, 1972.

Cupitt, The New Christian Ethics. London: SCM Press Ltd, 1988.

Curry, Patrick. “On Ecological Ethics,” (accessed September 2, 2003).

Daly, Lois K. “Ecofeminism, Reverence for Life, and Feminist Theological Ethics” in Feminist Theological Ethics, ed. Lois K. Daly. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994: 295-314.

Hooper, Peter. “St. Francis and Ecology” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer. London: Cassell, 1992: 76-85.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. New York: Crossroad, 1992.

McFague, Sallie. The Body of God: An Ecological Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

O’Murchu, Diarmuid. Quantum Theology. New York: Crossroad, 1997.

Pergamon, John. “Preserving God’s Creation” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer. London: Cassell, 1992: 47-63.

Rajotte, Freda. “Treatment for the Earth’s Sickness – The Church’s Role” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer. London: Cassell, 1992: 98-118.

Rajotte, Freda. “What is the Crisis?” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer. London: Cassell, 1992: 1-18.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Sexism and God Talk: Towards a Feminist Theology. London: SCM, 1983.

Swimme, Brian & Berry, Thomas. The Universe Story. San Francisco: Harper, 1992.

Sagan, Carl. Billions and Billions. London: Headline, 1997.

Sagan, Carl. The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence. New York: Random House, 1977.

[1] Don Cupitt, The New Christian Ethics (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1988), 1.

[2] Since in practical terms, one could not really live up to the demands of these ideals, there was always, in case of the Roman Catholics, the ordained priests who, as alter Christi, could offer absolution and forgiveness, and in the case of the other Christians, direct supplication to God without any human mediation.

[3] Don Cupitt, The New Christian Ethics, 2.

[4] The obscuring of the non-divine source of ethical guidelines is strengthened by the objectification of the ethical which was “made part of the eternal constitution of things, surrounded by an aura of solemnity and made to impinge upon us as if beyond ourselves. Thus much of moral philosophy remained the ghost of theology until early modern times.” (Don Cupitt, The New Christian Ethics, 2).

[5] Don Cupitt, The New Christian Ethics, 2.

[6] Don Cupitt, The New Christian Ethics, 3.

The concern of feminist writers does not only encompass human relationships. With the unearthing of the inequality of these relationships based on supposed-to-be divinely sanctioned superiority of one gender over another projected to dominance of the spirit over matter comes the concern over the environment. Nature was likened to a woman who had to be subdued, ravished and put into use by a man.

[7] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988), xi.

[8] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth, xi.

[9] The myth of progress, with positive aspect in the new understanding of an evolutionary universe, “has been used in a devastating manner in plundering the Earth’s resources and disrupting the basic functioning of the life systems of the planet” (Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story (San Francisco: Harper, 1992), 241).

[10] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth, xiii.

[11] “Even if human beings have not been there before, their influence has been carried by the winds, water, and soil, birds, insects, and animals who bear within their beings the poisoning effects of human rapine of the globe.” (Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God Talk: Towards a Feminist Theology (London: SCM, 1983), 91).

[12] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1997), 65.

[13] Because CFC also contributed to global warming, this problem and that of the ozone layer were taught to be the same problem. Among the gases that bring about the greenhouse effect, the most notorious is carbon dioxide or CO2 (what we breathe out) when fossil fuels are burnt. The greenhouse gases allow the sun’s infrared rays to penetrate through the upper atmosphere to heat the earth but block them when reflected by the earth’s surface, thus causing bringing about the so-called global warming. The forests absorb CO2 (to be converted to woody part) and give out O2, but when they burn, the process is reversed. Deforestation somehow contributes to global warming because there are less trees to absorb CO2.

[14] Freda Rajotte, “What is the Crisis?” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer (London: Cassell, 1992), 1.

[15] Ozone is a molecule consisting of three atoms of oxygen chemically bound together and symbolized by O3. Ozone molecules occur naturally in the upper atmosphere where the sun’s ultraviolet rays break up oxygen (actually a molecule of 2 oxygen atoms chemically bound together and symbolized by O2, the gas we breathe in) into single oxygen atoms (also known as free radicals that attack our immune system) that recombine to form O3 or ozone. The same UV rays break up CFC molecule to release chlorine atom which reacts with O3 molecules to convert them back to O2 molecules (2 molecules of O3 are converted to 3 molecules of O2). The chlorine atom is then liberated to repeat its deadly process.

The most recent condition of the ozone hole in the Antartic as reported in the newspaper The Age, September 13, 2003 reveals that it has grown rapidly and covers some 28,000,000 sq. km., the largest so far and more than three times the size of Australia. Despite controls of ozone depleting substances as agreed up in the UN’s Montreal Protocol, Australia is one of the biggest culprits with its annueal use of about 2000 metric tons of HCFC and 210 tons of methyl bromide.

[16] The phytoplanktons, the most prevalent beings inhabiting the ocean’s surface, are unicellular plants so small that they lack the tough UV-absorbing skins of higher plants and animals. When more UV rays hit the ocean, the damage is not limited to these microscopic plants. Since they are the food of the unicellular animals, the zooplanktons, which are in turn the food of little crustaceans, the krill, which are then eaten by small fish, the food of larger fish, dolphins, whales and people, “[t]he destruction of the little plants at the base of the food chain causes the entire chain to collapse.” (Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions (London: Headline, 1997), 90.

[17] Patrick Curry, “On Ecological Ethics,” (accessed 02/09/03).

[18] Patrick Curry, “On Ecological Ethics.”

[19] Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (New York: Random House, 1977), 14-16; Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 120.

Another way of describing the very late arrival of humanity to creation scene is by having the story of the earth from its existence 5 billion years ago recorded into an encyclopedia of 10 volumes of 500 pages each. Each page represents 1,000,000 years. Unicellular organisms appeared somewhere in the 5th volume, and flora and fauna in the 10th volume. Page 440 of the 1ast volume is the age of the dinosaurs superseded by the era of birds and mammals on page 465. The penultimate page is the arrival of humankind. The beginning of civilization until now, a period of 6000 years, is represented by the last two words of the whole encyclopedia, with humanity’s massive assault on Nature on the last 200 years appearing very minutely in the full stop after the last word of the entire encyclopedia. (John B. Cobb, Jr., Is It Too Late?: A Theology of Ecology (California: Bruce, 1972), 78).

[20] Freda Rajotte, “What is the Crisis,” 1.

[21] Freda Rajotte, “What is the Crisis,” 2.

[22] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth, 160.

[23] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 63.

[24] Freda Rajotte, “What is the Crisis,” 7.

[25] John Pergamon, “Preserving God’s Creation” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer (London: Cassell, 1992), 51.

[26] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 196.

[27] Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 22,

[28] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 70.

[29] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 65.

[30] Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 179.

[31] “As Lovelock (1988, 212) reminds us, Mother Earth is not a doting creature tolerant of misdemeanors, nor is she some fragile and delicate damsel in danger from brutal humankind. She is stern and tough, always keeping the world warm and comfortable for those who obey the rules, but ruthless in her destruction of those who transgress.” (Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology, 142).

“Already the earth is taking away the oxygen we breathe, the purity of the rain, our protection from cosmic rays the careful balance of our climate, [and] the fruitfulness of the soil.” (Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth, 119).

[32] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 137.

[33] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 7.

[34] John Pergamon, “Preserving God’s Creation,” 62.

[35] Freda Rajotte, “Treatment for the Earth’s Sickness – The Church’s Role” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer (London: Cassell, 1992), 105.

[36] Freda Rajotte, “Treatment for the Earth’s Sickness – The Church’s Role,” 105.

[37] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 7.

[38] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 29.

[39] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 63.

[40] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 166.

[41] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 189.

[42] Peter Hooper, “St. Francis and Ecology” in Christianity and Ecology, eds. Elizabeth Breuilly and Martin Palmer (London: Cassell, 1992), 78.

[43] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 191.

[44] Freda Rajotte, “Treatment for the Earth’s Sickness – The Church’s Role, “ 104.

[45] Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 4.

[46] Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology, 5.

[47] Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God Talk: Towards a Feminist Theology, 91.

[48] Lois K. Daly, “Ecofeminism, Reverence for Life, and Feminist Theological Ethics” in Feminist Theological Ethics, ed. Lois K. Daly (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 300-301.

[49] In the Philippines, concern for the land is also shared by mystical groups who have retained strong animistic beliefs despite centuries of Christianity under Spain. With the cross on the left hand and the sword on the right, Spain introduced Christianity and the western mode of life to the Philippines in the 16th century. The conquerors found various tribal societies under a male leader and a female priestess. Any important administrative and political decisions are carried out only after consultation to, and advise, by the priestess. The male reigns, but the female rules. Horrified by the discovery of an animistic, naturalistic religion led by priestesses, the Spaniards carried out a systematic process of converting the people by co-opting the male leaders and putting an end to the animistic religion and persecuting the priestesses. The people readily adopted the rituals and structures of the new religion resulting in a piety characterized by a “mixture of superstition and the absence of an intellectual foundation for the Faith” so that deep “in the dark, lower regions of the Filipino people, there still ruled the ‘aswang’ [humans who can assume the forms of animals, especially, that of a dog] and the pagan gods, the superstitious lore of the grandmother, the value system of the old, familiar” tribal villages.

Many westerners who have despaired of modern medicine have been flocking to the Philippines in search of healing offered by the shamans. These healers, the great majority of whom are women, descendants of ancient priestesses, are leading spiritual movements characterized by connectedness to the earth, but never considering themselves as break-away from the Church whose leaders normally ignore them. Many groups originating from mountain parts of the Philippines form farming communities, continuously communicating “with angels, saints, and other spirits in the environment, so much so that their spirits are as intimate with them as members of their own family.”

Their animistic-Christian faith, more emotionally than rationally based, make them so intimately close to the land and the spirits inhabiting it that they find it easy to enter into a trantic state or altered state of consciousness, in which state they communicate with them.

(Jaime C. Bulatao, Phenomena and Their Interpretation (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992), 13, 17, 67).

[50] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 127.

[51] Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, 201.

[52] Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology, 128.

[53] Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, 136.

[54] Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, 199.

No comments: