Week Two: Care for Creation (a franciscan spirituality of the earth)

by Ilia Delio, O.S.F –  Keith Douglas Warner , O.F.M –  Pamela Wood

Chapter 3: Embodying the Incarnate Word in Creation & Chapter 4: Ecology of the Canticle of Creation

by Andrew Wilson

Chapter 3 explores reflection to bring the teachings of the previous two Chapters into daily life, with “Guided Meditation: Coming Home to the Incarnation in Creation.” This is a form of relaxation, beginning with a purging of everyday concerns, followed by an appreciation of one’s contact with the earth as gravity draws the body’s tensions down into the earth. This then leads to a closeness with the earth and all the elements of the universe, all within the “hospitality of our planet home,” a reference to the Greek word oikos from Chapter 1. This is followed by an appreciation of breathing as the Spirit of Life, thoughts on water within and all around us, and finally “walking with Francis through God’s house,” to complete the experience.

Chapter 4 addresses biodiversity in crisis including extinction and how humans can respond on a Franciscan level. The interdependencies of God’s creatures are explored including mutualism and coevolved species, as well as human dependence on ecosystem services. The focus then shifts to the diversity of life being “greater than human understanding,” and the importance of lesser known species is also emphasized, so that we are not only concerned with megafauna such as the bald eagle. The focus shifts to the threats of extinction through habitat loss, climate change, and harvesting/hunting, as well as the “communal ethical reflection” necessary to address these processes. Finally, the scriptural concept of “dominion” is explored and its seeming conflict with stewardship, and more so with the Franciscan “brother” concept.

Questions:


1. From an early age, primarily through advertising, we are made to understand that we are first and foremost “consumers” of everything in nature or in our world and that this is a good thing, certainly from a mercantile standpoint. But what would it take from an individual, familial or corporate standpoint to shift that paradigm so as to view ourselves early on in childhood, or through retraining at a later age, not as consumers but as “conservationists”? How would that take place?

2. Many of the early religions suggest elements of animism or naturalistic pantheism to explain nature’s wonders with phenomena such as The Green Man. How does the Franciscan theology and its related appreciation of nature differ from those beliefs? Are there biblical references or origins to explain those differences?

3. Oftentimes it seems that many of those seemingly well-versed in scripture react negatively in near “knee-jerk” fashion to any mention of climate change, or the protection of natural resources,  endangered species, or habitat. What or which scriptural references might convince them otherwise?

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