An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care
For the Life of the World: An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care explores climate change and global ecological issues via the ability of Christianity—one of the world’s most frequently practiced religions—to provide insight. Author Robin Gibbons outlines the tradition of prior Christian involvement in the issue, drawing upon ideas of freely given care and human stewardship of the world. Recently, the issue of climate change and the Christian community’s inability to act against it has been characterized by a disconnect between human life and nature, with the biblical model of human stewardship subsumed by politics, business, and greed. In contrast, this book advocates for embracing an older model of Christian thought, theoretically surmounting the consequences of climate disaster through care and respect for nature.
One of the defining perspectives about our human relationship to this wonderful world and all its creatures, found on our journey into Eastern Christianity can be summed up by John of Damascus; ‘All, indeed are for the seasonable use of man: but of them some are for food…others for service…and others for enjoyment’.1 This viewpoint is one about the right sense of balance and proportion that we need to develop towards the earth and its products, including ourselves, and also points out the limitations of our position in it! Though we are integral to the life of our planet, we are not the exclusive owners and users, we are in fact co-dependent with so many other species and they with us. Neither in humility can we say that historically we have been here ab inititio, the traditional stories of creation, including those of Genesis firmly put us in position as newcomers whose role as intelligent beings is to care for this little planet.
In our exploration of the various perspectives that can help us look again both with renewed hope and a new sense of our place as God’s caretakers, the images and themes from the East help us realize that deep within Christianity there is an all encompassing love that comes from the theology of the Incarnation, a call to a very definite vocation, for as God in wisdom stepped into human and earthly life through Jesus, we are asked to share in...
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