CHAPTER 5RESPONSE TO THEECO-CRISISIntroductionTheecological crisis that threatens to affect the entire world of nature andhumanity has led to frantic search to track down the basic causes responsiblefor the crisis.
Religions in general have contributed towards the crisis eitherthrough their teachings which underplayed the role of nature as in the case ofChristianity, or by the failure to prevent ecological destruction despiteappreciation of nature, as in the case of Buddhism. Our focus here howevershall be limited to a brief consideration of the role of the Biblical religionin the whole crisis and can be broadly summarized into three positions: thatBiblical Religion is primarily responsible for the ecological crisis, thatBiblical tradition has no role in the abuse of nature, and that Biblical faithencouraged the crisis with its ambiguous views regarding the Divine – humanrelationship towards nature.14. 1. Response to theEco- Crisis: An Ecological Vision of SpiritualityChristianspirituality has often focused on an outside God, one who lives in the realm ofheaven, far removed from earth.
Such other worldly spirituality often moveddisciples to flee the world to find God. In the extreme such spiritualityviewed God as a being so far beyond this earth. That the earth was consideredto be a Godless place, a fallen place, a fallen world, which had to betranscended completely in order to be in union with God. This image of Godoften still prevails in Christian spirituality today. With our contemporaryunderstanding of nature and concern for environmental issues, however, morepositive images of God as creator and nurturer can better engender a reverencefor the earth and motivate Christians to be active as co-creators with God whois lovingly involved with creation.
Therefore today in the context ofecological crisis one needs to evolve an ecological spirituality that studiesour relationship to God and in the context of our relationship with the cosmosin its totality. 24. 2. New Evangelization: Eco- Focused. Thephrase “New Evangelization”3calls our attention to a sharing of the faith, which is new in its vigor, newin its method, and new in its expression.
New in its vigor meant, it must comefrom a greater unity with Christ who is the first agent of evangelization, froma greater confidence in his power to change hearts, and longing and willingnessto transmit to others the joy of Faith. New in its method meant that everymember becomes an agent in spreading Christ’s message and in being coherentwith this mission in everyday behavior. New in its expression meant, thatChristians be attentive to the Lord’s suggestions at every moment of theirlives and learn to use a language which is understood by all and be committedto justice in a way concomitant with evangelization. It should spring from a’new experience of God’, a newconsciousness of reality, a new understanding of past events, of present andfuture possibilities. The new evangelization is a call to conversion; a call tochange and transform the present world view of the modern world toward truewisdom and fullness of life for the whole humankind.4Inthe context of our ecological crisis, we need to have a new experience ofecological God, a new consciousness of this dreadful reality, a newunderstanding of present needs and future possibilities. A new evangelizationis the vital need of the time for environmental protection.
A call to repentfor our ecological sins must be part of our mission to the world. It can be done in the following ways;· To make people aware ofthe cosmic reality of which all creation form an integral part.· To conscientize allabout the great dangers posed to the delicately balance eco-system and theconsequences of such an eco imbalance. * To make aware of each one’s duty toappreciate, preserve and nurture the Earth as humankind’scommon heritage.
Thus evangelization must reach the human greed, selfishness, and utilitarian and exploitativeattitudes, which are the basic causes of ecologicalcrisis.54. 3. Christian Responseand the Following of JesusInthe living memory of the Christian community, Jesus is a Wisdom teacher whoseparables are taken from nature, who finds God in the wilderness, and whoteaches that God clothes every wildflower and cares for every sparrow thatfalls to the ground. In the light of his resurrection, Jesus is celebrated bythe first Christians as the wisdom/ word of God, the one in whom all things arecreated and all things are reconciled.
The contemporary concept of deepincarnation suggests that in the word made flesh, God has embraced theinterconnected world of fleshy creatures, the whole web of life on earth. Theincarnation is God with us in the every tissue of biological life. From theperspective of evolutionary history, Jesus can be seen as the self –transcending of the evolving universe into God. From the side of God, Jesus canbe seen as God’s self communication to creation. Jesus is the event ofsalvation because he is both God’s self- bestowal to creation and the radicalyes of creation to God.
64. 3. 1. Diversity ofLife and the Expression of TrinityIna Trinitarian theology of creation, everything that exists springs from thedivine communion and all find its fulfillment in his communion. The word”perichoresis” describes the mutual presence of divine persons, their ecstaticbeing- with the other in diversity and freedom.
In this kind of communion,diversity and unity are not opposed but flourish in relation to each other.Only the diversity of life- huge soaring trunks of trees, the community ofants, the flashing colors of parrots, the beauty of wild flowers, along withthe mind and the heart of human- can give expression to the radical diversityof life on earth, can be seen as sacramental, as expressing and representingthe abundance and dynamism of the divine communion. The Trinitarian insightthat God’s very being is relational provides a basis for the vision of thefundamental reality of the universe as relational. The interrelatedness that ecologistsfind in the biosphere on the Earth, and the interrelatedness that sciencediscovers at all levels from quantum physics to cosmology, springs from a Godwhose being is to be in relationship.
74. 3. 2. All Things inChristTheresurrection changes created reality forever.
In Jesus’ death, he freely handshis bodily existence into the mystery of a loving God. In the resurrection, Godadopts Jesus’ creaturely reality as God’s own reality. The resurrectionconstitutes an objective change in the world of creatures. It is the promise,and the beginning, of the transformation of all things in Christ. We do nothave the mental picture of this transformation. The God of the future is a Godof radical, incomprehensible mystery. Our future and that of the rest of thecreation are hidden in God. What we know is the promise of God given in theresurrection of Jesus, a promise that involves the embodied human person andthe created universe.
Based on the God revealed in Christ, individual creaturescan be thought of as participating in redemption in Christ by being taken upinto the eternal divine life in a way that is appropriate to their nature. Thismay occur in their being taken up, loved and celebrated eternally in the lovingmemory of the Trinity and the communion of Saints. It may occur in other waysthat we cannot yet imagine or envisage. 84. 3.
3. In Worship andPracticeWhenChristians gather for Eucharist they bring creation with them. Every Eucharistcan be understood as the lifting up ofcreation to God, the living memory of both creation and redemption , thesacrament of the cosmic Christ , participation with all God’s creatures in thecommunion of the Trinity, and solidarity with victims. Following Jesus meansfollowing the wisdom. It involves seeing all things as love by God and destinedto be taken up and transformed in Christ. It is a call to ecological conversionthat involves a new way of seeing, thinking and acting. It is a way of lovingknowledge, with the “loving eye”.
It is to be led by the Spirit into ecologicalpraxis, which is a way of seeing that leads to action that leads back tofurther reflection. What is needed is a mysticism of ecological praxis.Christians committed to ecological praxis need to be mystics, finding God not only in the experience oftheboundless beauty of the natural world but also in the painful dark night ofloss, failure, and defeat and in the enduring , life –long commitment to theEarth and its creatures.9 ConclusionAccording to the Compendium of the Social Doctrineof the Church, there must be a consideration of the relationship betweendevelopment and exploitation of natural resources and it states that Catholicsocial teaching calls for ‘economic activity’ to reconcile ‘the needs ofeconomic development’ with those of environmental protection. We cannot travelthrough a middle path amidst the growing ecological crisis.
Catholic socialthought emphasizes the person both as responsible for creation and at the sametime as at the centre of creation.10 The dual role that human beings are called to treadinvites for a renewed response to perceive and use the earth more carefully. As regards the ecological question, thesocial doctrine of the church reminds us that the goods of the earth created byGod to be used wisely by all. They must be shared equitably, in accordance withjustice and charity. This is not an option that is before us but a Christianimperative. It is necessary to state that thecharacteristic principle of social doctrine: the goods of this world areoriginally meant for all. Some considerations that we need to keep in the wholeprocess of ecological discussions are respect for life, and above all for thedignity of the human person is the ultimate guiding norm for any economic,scientific and industrial progress”.11Thus the social teachings of the Church emphasize on respect towards thecreation and also to respect the most vulnerable sections of the society.
1Tucker Grim.Worldviews andEcology.Editedby M. Oelschlaeger. London, Yale University, (1994), 5.2 Oliver Inchody, Towards theNeed of Re- conceiving Religious Spirituality: An Ecological Perspective, inEarth People: Greening religious Life Today,( New Delhi: CRI Publication,2009) 55.3 The encyclical RedemptorisMissiomakes a distinction of three types of evangelization; evangelization ad gentes,which refers to contexts in which Christ and his Gospel are not known, pastoral care of the faithful,who are fervent in their faith and Christian living and the new or re-evangelization.
(R. M). Speaking to the members of the federation of theconferences of Latin American Bishops in Poto-au-prince, Haiti, on March 9,1983 Pope John Paul II used the phrace “New Evangelisation” for the first time.Quoted by Thomas Menaparampil, in: Thoughtson Evangelization, Bombay: St.
Paul’s, (1997), p. 79.4Ibid., p. 79-80.5Ibid., p.
90.6 Denis, Edwards. Jesus theWisdom of God: An Ecological Theology, (New York: Orbis Books, 1995), 55.7Ibid., 70.
8Ibid., 180. 9 Denis Edwards, Ecology at theHeart of Faith, (New York: Orbis Books, 2006), 199.10 Bernard V Brady, EssentialCatholic Social Thought,( New York: Orbis Books, 2008), 202.11 Judith A Dwyer. The New Dictionary of Catholic SocialThought,(Collegeville: TheLiturgical Press,1994), 307- 308.