Fertility and Divinity

With the grass being so lush and green this Beltane, with all the heat and rain, I’ve been meditating on YHWH as the source of life and fertility.

In the process I’ve stumbled across a critique of Karl Barth by Walter Brueggemann, where he suggests Barth overplayed his hand in depicting YHWH as god of history in contrast to the Canaanite deities as gods of fertility. He particularly draws attention to Genesis 8:22, Psalm 104:27-30, and Hosea 2 as examples where YHWH is depicted as guarantor of the cycles of the seasons and the fruits of the earth.

In the process I have also been reflecting on places where YHWH is depicted as receptive rather than active, playing host rather than guest, inviting outsiders in. In particularly I’ve been reflecting on the YHWH of Jesus, who was often a quite motherly father.

Mystical Poetry by Hildegard of Bingen

God’s Word is in all creation

No creature has meaning

without the Word of God.

God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.

The Word is living, being,

spirit, all verdant

all creativity.

This Word flashes out in

every creature.

This is how the spirit is in

the flesh – the Word is indivisible from God.

– Hildegard of Bingen

Is contemporary Christianity is way too anthropocentric?

I have to say, I think contemporary Christianity is way too anthropocentric. Some expressions are very individualistic, focussing on the “personal relationship with Jesus” and not much else. Others are more communal, emphasizing the “Kingdom of God” in which, refreshingly, horizontal relationships are affirmed as well. But this still falls short of affirming Jesus as Lord of earth, sky and sea and everything within them. It still falls short of the cosmic focus we find in Hebrews 1 and Colossians 1. Why is this important (when it sounds so esoteric)? Well, not only does it lead to short sightedness in the field of ethics (in terms of sins against God’s creation and God’s creatures) but it devalues the work of people primarily engaged with nature (such as artists and engineers) rather than other people (such as teachers and social workers). No wonder so many artists and creative types feel more affinity with occulture than contemporary church culture, even when considering some of the more missional expressions of it. So, as esoteric as it sounds, I think there is a missional imperative explore cosmic Christology, and it corollary, Christian cosmology more deeply than we have been. This is one of the things I have learned from engaging with alternative spiritualities.

Haiku reflections on the Parramatta River

I am thinking of joining the New Writers Group in Parramatta. I found out through their website yesterday that there is a Haiku competition for the Riverbeats Festival later this year.

Haiku’s follow a three line format.

First Line: 5 Syllables
Second Line: 7 Syllables
Third Line: 5 Syllables

The theme for the festival is water and spirituality and the successful entires will be projected on large screens and buildings at the banks of the Parramatta River. Having played around with Christian haikus on and off for some time on this blog I just couldn’t pass up such an opportunity. Here’s my first one:

Wind over water
An echo of creation
I long for God’s rest

I’ll see how it goes.

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.