Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Green New Year!

At the initiative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, September 1st--in addition to being the first day of the liturgical year--has been declared a day to prayer for the environment. The so-called "Green Patriarch" has issued an encyclical chastising humanity for its "extreme exploitation" of the environment and linking environmental failures with spiritual short-comings:

Therefore, today, we praise the holy name of God for granting to humanity the gift of nature, which he preserves and sustains, as the most suitable environment for human beings to develop in body and spirit. A the same time, we cannot remain silent about the fact that humanity does not properly honor this divine gift and instead destroys the environment through greed and other selfish ambitions...After all this, it is clear that our good relationship with the environment develops parallel to our proper relationship with God.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the dolphin hunting season is set to begin, sparking worldwide controversy and protest.

Today is as good a day as any to remind Christians that the human thirst for violence extends beyond merely our lust for war. We do violence to God's order when we allow greed, self-indulgence, or apathy to govern the way we interact with His creation. He made this world to be inhabited and governed by humanity, not to be consumed by it. The patriarch rightly notes the parallel between the rise of our consumer society and the advent of large scale ecological violence. Christians have an ethical and social duty to stand as an ordained alternative to a culture which in the same breath deifies the natural world through its materialism and destroys it through its consumerism. Christians ought to be at the ideological forefront of environmentalism. Neither the church nor the environment can afford for that to be ignored.

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