Ecological Conversion

I posted in a Being Frank post called Is environmental concern getting out of hand?, regarding the tendency of some Catholics to promote this field above the fundamental Christian truths.

I think it’s necessary to note that Christianity, first and foremost, is not about ethics or conservation or even good philosophy. It is not about “raising one’s consciousness” or attaining enlightenment, it isn’t primarily about social justice. It’s about one thing – love. Love of God, and of neighbour, precisely because all of reality reflects the quality of the Creator who is Love (as you’ll see). It is about bringing souls into communion with this Love – this is salvation, redemption of man. All else is secondary, and derives its power from this primary reality. Therefore, good ethics and social justice arise because they’re founded on love (as opposed to some other ideologies like Nazism); conservation is promoted correctly (unlike some forms of extreme animal activism); good philosophy arises (because it is not self seeking); consciousness is formed through intellect and will (as opposed to New Age practices), and; enlightenment attained (because through humility, we may see ourselves as we truely are; self-knowledge leads to true wisdom).

This is what I wrote:

This is rather timely. Our diocesan newspaper for the month has two articles on the front page (and I’ll link to their online versions), entitled “The universe story a challenge for the church” and “Responding to the call for ecological conversion“.

I agree with Ox that we have “an obligation to be good stewards of the environmental resources we have been blessed with”. However, I also agree with him and the others here that the focus, as of late, is being misplaced. We are starting “to miss the mark”; a dangerous indication, considering that that’s what the word “sin” means.

The problem is that we’re losing sight of the primary focus – that is, love of God and the salvation of man. When this happens, we gradually become less and less concerned with our obligations and therefore any secondary needs. Not only that, we fall into all sorts of subtle, but nonetheless real dangers that the flesh, the world and the devil cause us to fall into, to the detriment of both temporal and eternal welfare of every soul.

Speaking as a convert, it really does worry me when a diocesan newspaper starts to toss about terms like “ecological spirituality” and “earth theology”, and prints articles (see above) with remarks like the following:

  • “…many people involved in environmental organisations in Australia give credit to their Catholic schooling for forming their consciences ‘even though they are on long service leave from the Sunday event’” [note: that’s disregarding the Sunday Mass obligation – what are they trying to encourage here??]
  • “‘When the christian story finds its place within the larger story of the cosmos we will find our place in the larger scheme of things and we will know what to do for the troubles of the world. …There’s a challenge for reframing Christology too.’” [note: So… God should take a second place to His creation, and we should “reframe” Christ to suit that?? – this is the definition of idolatry. And there I was thinking Christianity was based on revelation :roll:.]

It seems to me that these articles have taken John Paul II’s call for “ecological conversion” out of context to serve their own agenda of promoting some quasi cosmic spirituality. Allow me to quote the late Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Gregis, and the context in which the term is introduced:

“Clearly, what is called for is not simply a physical ecology, concerned with protecting the habitat of the various living beings, but a human ecology, capable of protecting the radical good of life in all its manifestations and of leaving behind for future generations an environment which conforms as closely as possible to the Creator’s plan. There is a need for an ecological conversion, to which Bishops themselves can contribute by their teaching about the correct relationship of human beings with nature. Seen in the light of the doctrine of God the Father, the maker of heaven and earth, this relationship is one of ”stewardship:” human beings are set at the centre of creation as stewards of the Creator.”

Clearly, John Paul II places the “Christian story” above the “Cosmic story”, precisely because everything is Christocentric – “…for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16–17 RSV; emphasis mine).

“In [Christ], all things hold together”, including the Cosmos. As Peter kreeft explains in Love Sees with New Eyes: “Since God is the Creator and since creation reflects and reveals the Creator, and since God is love, all creation somehow reflects and reveals love. ….We can see the same principle at work on every level: gravity and electromagnetism on the inorganic level; a plant’s attraction to the sun and to water and nutrients in the soil on the plant level; instinct on the animal level; and love on the human level. And within the human sphere there is also a hierarchy beginning with the sexual desire (eros) and affection (storge) that we share with the animals up to the friendship (philia) and charity (agape) that we share with the angels. The universe is a hierarchy of love.”

The “story of the cosmos” must find its place within Christ, not vice versa, or we’re treading on a very dangerous territory.

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