Remembering all living things in prayer

This prayer is commonly attributed to Saint Basil, the Bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century, though this is somewhat contested. Irrespective of it’s origins I think we can benefit from it.

 

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, even our brothers, the animals, to whom Thou gave the earth as their home in common with us. We must remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of pain. May we realise that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life

Ask the animals

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Praying with Saint Basil

The following prayer is attributed to Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, who lived from 330AD-379AD. It is a prayer of confession, for the ways we’ve fallen short in our treatment of animals, and of request, for a more God aligned awareness.

The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. O God, enlarge within us the sense of kinship with all living things, our brothers and sisters the animals to whom You have given the Earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the Earth, which should have gone up to you in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for you, and that they have the sweetness of life.

If you are a visual person like me, you’ll find the impact of the prayer will be greatly enhanced if you visualise both the beauty of your local wildlife and the cruelty it has suffered whilst reading through the prayer slowly three times.

Cosmetic Cruelty

Animal-testing The caption reads: For long eyelashes, this is how 300,000 lab animals suffer each year.What do God have to say?

Genesis 49:6 – Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.

Exodus 23:12 – Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

Proverbs 12:10 – A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Earth Hour Reflections

Noah In case anyone was wondering, no I wasn’t blogging during Earth Hour last night. That last post was pre-written and pre-programmed to launch while I was otherwise occupied.

What I was actually doing was having a relaxing chat with my wife and elder son by candlelight in our dining area after our younger son went to bed. Very civilized.

My son was old enough to actually appreciate a bit of what was going on this year and I took the opportunity to join some of the dots for him between our actions and our sacred stories. As a four year old, the story of Noah is one he already knows fairly well and we explained, “Just as Noah took care of the animals when they were in danger, we’re doing this to take care of the animals too.” He got the point, we should care for all life. God gave us this beautiful world God to live in – we should respect his gifts.

Green Christianity around the Globe

Green-christian Where can you find Christianity of a greener shade? Christians who care for the animals and plants of this creation as our Creator calls us to do? Christian communities that exercise real leadership?

I thought it might be useful to put together a primer on Green Christian and Animal Protetion websites and blogs. What do you think? Here are a number of sites that I have referred to other the years:

ARC: Alliance of religionsand conservation. Contains article about the  Australian Anglicans on climate change.

A Rocha: Christians in conservation

Christian Ecology Link: A multi-denominational UK Christian organisation for people concerned about the Environment. Includes links to Australian sites too.

Earth Ministry: A response to the need felt by many Christians to recognise the riches of God’s creation and to address from a Christian perspective the environmental problems of our society. An Aussie Uniting Church initiative.

Eco Congregation: An ecumenical programme helping churches make the link between environmental issues and Christian faith, and respond in practical action in the church, in the lives of individuals, and in the local and global community. Includes an environmental audit toolkit and award scheme for churches.

God and Animals: In defence of creation

God’s Earth is Sacred: An open letter to church and society in the United States. This document was drafted and signed by Christians across a wide theological spectrum.

NACCE: North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology

Sites Unseen: Eco Christian links

TREES: Theological Roundtable on Ecological Ethics and Spirituality. A student-based, inter-religious organization at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, seeks to raise awareness of the issues that surround the ecological demise of the earth.

JRI: The John Ray Initiative is an educational charity with a vision to bring together scientific and Christian understandings of the environment in a way that can be widely communicated and lead to effective action.

Web of Creation: Ecological resourses to transform faith and society

If you have any more suggestions, like sites that I’ve overlooked, please feel free to contribute to the list.

Animal Theology

Animal-theology I recently came across various references to a book on Animal Theology by Andrew Linzey. The reviews caught my interest:

ANIMAL RIGHTS is animal theology, in Andrew Linzey’s view. He argues that historical theology, creatively defined, must reject humanocentricity. He questions the assumption that if theology is to speak on this issue, “it must only do so on the side of the oppressors.” Linzey’s theological query investigates not only the abstractions of theory, but also the realities of hunting, animal experimentation, and genetic engineering. He is an important, pioneering, Christian voice speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.

ANDREW LINZEY holds the world’s first fellowship in theology and animal welfare–the International Fund for Animal Welfare Senior Research Fellowship at Mansfield College, Oxford University, and is a Special Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham. He has written fourteen books on theology and ethics, including Animal Rights, Christianity and the Rights of Animals and Political Theory and Animal Rights. At the 1989 Annual Conference of The Humane Society of the United States he was named official chaplain to the animal welfare movement in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of theology and animals. In 1990 he was awarded the Peaceable Kingdom Medal for outstanding work in the field of theology and animals.

I also note there’s a draft study guide at one site which contains useful bible references for anyone interested in animal welfare issues as they relate to Christian theology.

I’m wondering if ECer’s have read this book? It would be good to hear some commentary.

Richard Wade has posted a critique that’s worth reading on the Australian E-Journal of Theology. It raises as many questions for me as it answers but he himself acknowledges “The debate over a theology and ethics of animals is in its early stages. And the world in which we live encourages its growth.