It is dispiriting to hear of fires raging in California, the Great Barrier Reef dying, hurricanes growing in scale and ferocity, coastal flooding, whales moving north, aquifers drying, seasons shifting. In our age of climate change, species loss and competition for scarce resources, we have to up our game and take on the fact that fixing this mess is entirely on us. God is not going to do it. Building an armed cave won’t help. It is we who should thirst to help bring forth the ecological civilization – for a world a bit more paradisiacal, that is in our hands to construct!
We do not have the luxury of the poignant innocence of the first-century Christian, Clement, who wrote with eloquent watchfulness and awe:
The heavens move at his direction and obey him in peace. Day and night complete the course assigned by him, neither hindering the other. The sun and the moon and the choir of starts circle in harmony within the courses assigned to them, according to his direction, without any deviation at all. The earth, bearing fruit in the proper seasons in fulfillment of his will, brings forth food in full abundance for both humans and beasts and all living things that dwell upon it without dissension and without altering anything he has decreed. Moreover, the incomprehensible depths of the abysses and the indescribable judgments of the underworld are constrained by the same ordinances. The basin of the boundless sea, gathered together by his creative action into its reservoirs, does not flow beyond the barriers surrounding it; instead it behaves just as he ordered it. For he said, “This far shall you come, and your waves shall break within you.” The ocean – impassible by humans – and the worlds beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. The seasons, spring and summer and autumn and winter, give way in succession, one to the other, in peace. The winds from different quarters fulfill their ministry in the proper season without disturbance; the ever-flowing springs, created for enjoyment and health, give without fail their life-sustaining breasts to humankind. Even the smallest living things come together in harmony and peace. All these things the great Creator and Master of the universe ordered to exist in peace and harmony…. (The Apostolic Fathers in English, edited by Michael W. Holmes)
Would that it were so simple for us. But what if we instead say, “The Master put it in our hands to bring out the best that life in a loving universe can bring forth to thrive, to flourish, rooted and fruitful. We are the crown of Creation, there is no one else to do it, and we are not so fallen that we cannot rise to this charge.”