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Saving the Earth

For the last several decades it is been clear to me that one of the primary goals of the Jesus path is a profound spiritual experience of Oneness with all life. At times I have used terms such as becoming awake to the interconnectedness or interdependency of all creation and creatures. Admittedly, these are only words which attempt to describe an awareness which defies an exact or precise definition. Other spiritual teachers had different ways of describing this phenomenon, though they may have emphasized different steps to experience it. In all cases, a common objective from all the great and enlightened teachers is learning how to live on this earth with awareness that we are all part of one living organism.

Jesus offered many ways we might experience this awareness, both by his specific teachings and his own life as a model. His path, when followed, provides ways we may learn to release our egoic tendencies. Like most spiritual paths we must first go through a kenotic process of self-emptying. Simply stated, this means letting go of those protective things we often use to protect our egos and separate ourselves from others. They are often things we use to bolster our self-esteem or sense of importance. Most of the time, we do not notice we hold on to these things. Unfortunately these egoic parts of us get in the way of true spiritual awareness and keep us from discovering who and what we really are.

It is not the place of this essay to explain these great teachings here. However there is an important common theme in most of Jesus’ teachings designed to break down the barriers that separate us from others. For example, John Dominic Crossan refers to the practice of radical egalitarianism in both Jesus’ practice and teachings. Sitting down to a meal with those who might be different than you changes something in the relationship. Reaching out to your enemy or helping someone on the road who hates you is another example. Forgiveness and compassion are all part of dissolving these humanly created lines. In fact reaching out compassionately across barriers of any kind can lead to a new awareness.

But it is important to understand that this personal awareness or awakening is not the end goal. I have often been criticized for this assumption. I am confident Jesus believed this was the path not only to personal transformation but the transformation of a new world. He suggested that someday people could create a world “on earth as it is in heaven.” And I do not believe he meant this was only in our heads but would someday be realized as a way of creating a new world.

Although it would have been impossible for Jesus to have realized humans would someday be destroying the earth, it seems obvious to me, living in Oneness with the Mother Earth would have been part of his teachings had he known our precious earth was endangered.

I believe most of our readers realize we are on a precipice of the life and death of our planet. If we continue in the direction we are currently headed, we are clearly going to destroy the earth and certainly end any kind of existence we might call human. The fact that powerful money interests, politics and incredibly large egos are involved in this struggle makes this all the more frightening. Most early human communities realized they should not make decisions based on short term gains but rather on how their decisions might impact generations to come. Today, powerful interests in our world are making decisions which impact our earth simply based on the impact on the company’s stock and their personal golden parachutes.

It seems incredible to me that we continue to ignore the poisons we are pouring into our atmosphere, into our foods and our waters while we seem to act as if nothing is happening or there is nothing we can do. Sadly the mantra of young people today is, “You screwed it up, now we will try and fix it.” What an unfortunate way to start a new life. And frankly they will be dealing with systems and powers that will make their efforts nearly impossible without some serious and committed support from those of us who allowed this to happen. Certainly there seems to be little thought being given to major decisions made today and how they might impact future generations.

I am sick and tired of listening to people who suggest they just don’t know who to listen to…that there are too many varying opinions about everything from global warming to a gas tax. We are poisoning the Mother earth folks and until we really get that, as progressive Christians, let alone as humans, we are giving this beautiful planet, who has given us so much, a death sentence. Our grandchildren and our great grandchildren will never know the oceans and streams we freely swam in or the air in the mountains we once enjoyed.

For over a decade now I have been enthralled with the witness and wisdom of Thomas Berry. I would have made a huge sacrifice to have spent a day at his feet had I known how much his writings would impact me today. Admittedly my growing appreciation and connectedness for the other animals on our precious earth has made me much more aware of the tragedies that are already happening all over the world. More and more I have come to believe intelligent animals of all types are trying to communicate with us. I believe they want us to be aware of the danger they perceive in the way we are destroying our common habitat. Someday, I will write more about these thoughts but for now I simply want to suggest we must go deeper spiritually as we become more aware of our connectedness with Mother Earth. I believe we need to be much more assertive about transforming the systems we have created which stop or at least impede our ability to make the changes we know we need to make.
Who are we listening to and what are we doing to make changes? Why are we not doing more? Where is our commitment to live the Christian life of Oneness with all Creation? It has to be a lot more than our limp attempts to recycle our plastic bags.

It might help to listen again to some of the words of Thomas Berry written over fifteen years ago:

“We are talking only to ourselves. We are not talking to the rivers, we are not listening to the wind and stars. We have broken the great conversation. By breaking that conversation we have shattered the universe. All the disasters that are happening now are a consequence of that spiritual ‘autism.’”—

“The natural world itself is our primary language as it is our primary scripture, our primary awakening to the mysteries of existence. We might well put all our written scriptures on the shelf for twenty years until we learn what we are being told by unmediated experience of the world about us”. –

“In our totality we are born of the Earth. Our spirituality itself is earth-derived… If there is no spirituality in the earth, then there is no spirituality in ourselves”-Thomas Berry

Is it too late to make the changes we must make for human survival? Is it too late for a completely new consciousness? For my grandchildren and for yours, I hope not.

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