From time to time over the years here and in other writing venues I've made mention of a terrific resource, Christian History magazine.
I will do so again today because I want you to have a chance to read the current issue (by the way, you can subscribe for free to the print edition, though the publisher appreciates donations), which is focused on what it calls "The Wonder of Creation."
This is in harmony with the increasing attention being paid to environmental degradation not just by ecologists but also by public officials and by faith communities. An excellent example of the latter is Laudato Si, the encyclical "on care for our common home" published last year by Pope Francis. If you haven't read it, now is your chance.
An excellent example of attention from public officials is this recent New York Times interview of President Barack Obama, in which he described the consequences of climate change as "terrifying."
People of faith have long understood the universe to be God's creation. But that understanding has evolved over the years as science's understanding of evolution itself has evolved. There are, of course, still a few people around who argue that Earth was created just a few thousand years ago pretty much as it looks today and there are some people who think we need not worry much about the health of the planet because the end of time is nearly at hand.
But that kind of self-delusion need not delay us from doing what people who hold such views are failing to do: Face reality.
One way to do that is by giving this issue of Christian History a read and by asking yourself what your own faith community (or friends, if you are not a person of faith) is doing about caring for the Earth. Ask this question not just to find small ways individuals and congregations can help, but ask it to find larger systemic answers to problems that are also systemic in nature.
I especially call your attention in this issue of the magazine to an interview with Ellen B. Davis, a Duke Divinity School professor. In it she responds to a question about the Genesis account in which humanity is given "dominion" over creation: "If you read Genesis 1 in the context of ancient Israelite life, you will see that it isn't saying that Israelites could do whatever they pleased with the land; rather, the next chapter emphasizes human responsibility to care for the land. However, in the seventeenth century, you begin to hear this biblical language employed to defend exploitation. But that's not what it means in context."
Ah, another example of the need to understand scripture in its original context. What a concept.
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CATHOLIC SUPPORT FOR GAY MARRIAGE?
Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee and a Catholic, says his church eventually will come around to supporting same-sex marriage. I agree, though I don't expect it either in my lifetime or the lifetime of my children or maybe even my grandchildren. Change in church teaching often moves with incredible slowness (and sometimes that's a good thing, though not in this case).