13 March 2008

Of cow flatulence and creation...

What the heck kind of “Easter Message” is this?

Oh, never mind. It’s from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, which explains why the Solemnity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ involves garbage, sewage, bovine methane output, and hamburgers.

If I were not already a Christian, there’s nothing here to convince me to become one. Quite honestly, I could join Al Gore’s “global warming movement” and get more interesting literature to read.

Presiding Bishop's Message for Easter 2008

March 11, 2008

From the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop The Episcopal Church

Your Easter celebration undoubtedly has included lots of physical signs of new life -- eggs, flowers, new green growth. As the Easter season continues, consider how your daily living can be an act of greater life for other creatures. How can you enact the new life we know in Jesus the Christ? In other words, how can you be the sacrament, the outward and visible sign, of the grace that you know in the resurrected Christ? How can your living let others live more abundantly?

The Judaeo-Christian tradition has been famously blamed for much of the current environmental crisis, particularly for our misreading of Genesis 1:28 as a charge to "fill the earth and subdue it." Our forebears were so eager to distinguish their faith from the surrounding Canaanite religion and its concern for fertility that some of them worked overtime to separate us from an awareness of "the hand of God in the world about us," especially in a reverence for creation. How can we love God if we do not love what God has made?

We base much of our approach to loving God and our neighbors in this world on our baptismal covenant. Yet our latest prayer book was written just a bit too early to include caring for creation among those explicit baptismal promises. I would invite you to explore those promises a bit more deeply -- where and how do they imply caring for the rest of creation?

We are beginning to be aware of the ways in which our lack of concern for the rest of creation results in death and destruction for our neighbors. We cannot love our neighbors unless we care for the creation that supports all our earthly lives. We are not respecting the dignity of our fellow creatures if our sewage or garbage fouls their living space. When atmospheric warming, due in part to the methane output of the millions of cows we raise each year to produce hamburger, begins to slowly drown the island homes of our neighbors in the South Pacific, are we truly sharing good news?

The food we eat, the energy we use, the goods and foods we buy, the ways in which we travel, are all opportunities -- choices and decisions -- to be for others, both human and other. Our Christian commitment is for this -- that we might live that more abundant life, and that we might do it in a way that is for the whole world.

Abundant blessings this Easter, and may those blessings abound through the coming days and years.

Thank you, Madame Presiding Bishop, for your good wishes for abundant blessings. I have them, thank you, through my Catholic faith – which not only gives me a proper understanding about how to care for our world, but which also lets me know and serve the God who created it all.