Christianity and the Anthropocene – Part 2

anthropocene

The Priest and Prophet in the Anthropocene

            What follows is a poetic exploration around the subject of the Anthropocene, laid out following Brueggemann’s three part structure of reality, grief, and hope, including a psalm, a song, and finally, a prayer. Part 1 is available here

Part 2: Grief

In the Anthropocene,

there is much to grieve.

 

While the United States seals itself in a global penthouse suite situated high above the world below, thoroughly convinced that it is isolated and removed from the goings on on the ground floor below, the prophetic minister must name our connection to the ecological disasters which have already begun, and which will only increase.

We grieve the displaced refugee affected by climate change, whose own situation is intimately and intricately linked to our own, as our own lungs fill each day with the same ruach and the same poison.

We grieve the genocide of creation itself, and for convincing ourselves that steal and asphalt would somehow improve 4.5 billion years of meticulous, detailed, trial and error.

We grieve that we have forgotten that we are creations and not Creator; that we have denied being a part of God’s masterpiece, hoping we are somehow above that humiliation.

We grieve what we know must come to pass, even while we do not know how it will come to pass.

However, it is also the minister, the prophetic priest, during this long season of grief, who must voice the reminder that through life and death, order and chaos, God is with us. Surely, a priestly witness in the time of the Anthropocene embodies the words of the psalmist, proclaiming that while truly we live in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us.

The minister invites the community to look at the bleak future of the Anthropocene from a place of compassion, and not of anxious, compulsive, self-protection.

The minister fosters compassion for creation, compassion for the subaltern, and even compassion for those seated on the throne of power as the empire crumbles around them.

The minister cries out, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”; And then, the minister tries to help them see with new eyes the reality of the world around them:

 

A Song of the Garden of Weeds – based on Isaiah 5

 

Let us sing on behalf of God

A song concerning Her garden:

Her garden was just a rough plot of dirt

A small speck in the vast universe

In an unremarkable galaxy

A few million miles from the nearest sun.

She tilled the soil of Her garden

And dug deep trenches for water to flow

She planted flowers of every kind

And watched as Her small garden

Began to grow and flourish

And She loved it.

 

And one day, a particularly beautiful flower

Grew out of the soil where She had planted it.

The Gardener saw it and loved it

And saw that it was good.

The flower was stunning and radiant,

and it grew, and it blossomed, and it flourished.

Soon another beautiful flower grew out of the soil,

and the Gardener saw that this one was good too.

Then another, and another,

And another, and another emerged from the earth below.

The Gardener loved each flower in all its beauty

But She soon noticed that these flowers

Would not stay where they were planted,

And they began to spread out,

To crowd out and cover over

the other flowers in the garden.

 

For the garden of God

Is the entire planet,

And the beautiful flowers

Are all of humanity;

She planted beautiful flowers,

But got a bed of weeds,

She expected beauty,

But got horror!

 

Woe to those flowers

Who have turned into weeds

Whose roots grow long

And stretch to the far corners of the garden

Who horde the nutrients in the soil

Who guzzle water from the bed

Until the dirt dries and cracks

Like a great salt flat.

 

Woe to those weeds that grow unrestrained

Forming an expansive canopy

Blotting out sunlight

For the grasses, the shrubs, and the lilies below

Those weeds who in their own arrogance

Consider themselves fortunate

Thinking themselves to be the prettiest flowers

In all the garden.

 

Woe to those weeds

That call themselves mustard seeds

But whose branches are lined with thorns

So that no passing bird can find rest among them

And from whose broad trunk seeps

poisonous sap into once fertile soil below.

 

Therefore, when the last drop of living water

is finally poisoned

When the last blade of grass

is finally choked out

And when the garden

Is nothing but a pile of weeds

Do not cry out to the Gardener

As if She is to blame.

She planted beautiful flowers,

But you became a bed of weeds

She planted life,

But you grew only death!

 

And on that day,

The Gardener and the weeds will weep together.

And the weeds will cry out,

Surely it would have been better

For us never to have been planted

Never to have sprouted from the soil.

For this garden

once full of life

Is now nothing

But a graveyard.

 

Click here to read Part 3 – HOPE.

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