Friday, October 26, 2007

Eco-Theology 2

This problem reaches full strength in the second reason that ecology is not often taken seriously in churches today; a deficiency in a small number of doctrinal positions.

For many, this is the obvious problem. A deficient understanding of the doctrine of creation can very quickly turn someone into a hippie-hating conscienceless resource consumer. If one embraces a tradition where God’s call for humanity to exercise dominion over creation is seen as license to abuse the created order for our purposes regardless of the ecological consequences, then such abuse will occur regularly. This view is mistaken. God’s call for humans to cultivate and have dominion over the created over is a passing of responsibility to his imagers, who are now responsible to lovingly care for and yes, utilize for the good of the whole created order, not at its expense.

Not as obvious but every bit as dangerous to an ecological theology is a deficient understanding of eschatology (the doctrine of last things or "end times"). There are extremely popular eschatological frameworks (some popularized by fictional novels) which convey the eschaton as the destruction of the earth. The battle of Armageddon is emphasized on the earth, and the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21 and 22 are relegated to a heavenly, spiritual realm. The goal of this eschatological system is escape from this world. The purpose of living faithfully to Christ is that he can save us from the impending destruction of the earth.

A theology that locates the final resting place of Christ and humanity somewhere other than this earth almost has to lead to ecological apathy. What point is there in caring for a world that will face destruction soon, and as part of God’s perfect plan no less? Yet when we see the eschaton as the restoration of all things to Christ and the return of the Triune God to the earth he lovingly created and declared as good, we do no longer look at life as our only chance to use up the fruits of the earth. Rather, we see our lives as a great opportunity to plant the very trees of the New Jerusalem, where the sea is glassy and there are trees which are for the healing of the nations. We no longer spiritualize these words of Revelation, but see them as our duty to the world which God has entrusted to us.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Eco-Theology 1

I think there are three primary reasons that ecology is not taken seriously in many churches today, and I'm going to address them in subsequent posts here. Feel free to pipe in with questions, as I am still struggling to make more sense of all this and fully think through the implications of these arguments.

Here are my three primary reasons that ecology is not taken seriously in most churches today:

1. We fail to see the interrelatedness of doctrines in our theological systems. Which can lead to...

2. A deficiency in one or two doctrinal positions (usually creation or eschatology), which forbids us from taking the created world seriously.

3. We simply don’t take seriously our theological convictions about ecology (or anything else, for that matter).

I'll only deal with number one today.

So what about the interrelatedness of doctrine? For at least the past century, the idea of systematic theology has been a popular one. Systematic theology brought a renewed interest in theology, contextualized theology for a world steeped in an Enlightenment worldview, and from these, much good has been done. However, the downside to systematic theology is a system of division which easily leads to a theology of division. We study doctrines such as creation, the Trinity and salvation individually, and somehow they begin to feel like separate things, as if the character and activity of God himself is somehow neatly divided into categories. God acts here as creator, Jesus acts here as Savior, the Spirit works here as equipper, and little is said about how these rich aspects of theology overlap and connect with one another.

So we don’t consciously connect the points of doctrine in our theological systems, but rather allow our subconscious mind to do that work. When these connections are not intentional, our minds simply take what we value most in one area of theology and allow it to trump whatever we may want to believe in another area. So we have people who may think that it is pretty important to care for the earth who are not willing to stand for this principle because there is another element of their theology which is more central to their identity which appears to contradict it, yet having not explored the connections between these two aspects of their belief system, the one perceived greater wins out.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

In An Attempt... be more disciplined in other areas of my life (running, housecleaning, parenting, husbanding, personal hygiene, etc.), I have neglected blogging. Yet blogging is something I love, so I will hopefully be returning to the discipline sometime soon. For now, I'll just let you know what I plan on blogging sometime in the near future.

I have quite a few distinct thoughts rolling around in my brain on the topic of Eco-Theology. I've been doing some Eco-Theology in various forms lately. I have some of the thoughts down already in the form of a theology paper, but it wouldn't make a very good blog as is. I did some Eco-theologizing when I set up recycling bins at our house and posted some scripture texts in our garage from Psalms and Revelation as a reminder why I/we recycle.

In other news, I'm an uncle for the first time. Carter Charles Fedewa was born very early Sunday morning. It's amazing to see a little baby now that Addison's so big (almost 14 months). It really does go stinkin' fast. It's not all just gross exaggeration. I've been off all week for fall break, which has been great, and tomorrow morning we head to Rockford to see my family. It's been awhile and I miss them.

I am blessed by Marcie and Addie all the time. Despite our awkward travel/living situation, life is really good. Praise to the Father, Son and Spirit who love and sustain us in each moment and throughout each season of this messy but beautiful life.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Mr. Spriggs...'nuff said

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Top 5?

Apparently I don't blog anymore, but alas, Hofbauer has issued the challenge on Xanga via The Vis, and I cannot resist.

The challenge? Top 5 musical artists. Before I start my list, I must mention that this is a very immediate list. A year ago or five years ago, the list would have been completely different, but for now, this is it:

1. Sufjan Stevens - I love it all. I occasionally get lost in the music, and don't even realize it's playing. It's as if it becomes a part of my breathing as I listen and my heart is elevated in a way I cannot describe. The more I listen, the more layers of meaning I seem to discern in the lyrical and musical content. I know I'm overstating it, but I love Sufjan. On a side note, my love for a particular Sufjan song was redeemed even further by it's being played by the Mars Hill worship team as Marcie and I served communion to one another in community with the church.

2. Radiohead - They write impossibly great melodies, yet defy convention consistently. Never boring, and amazingly, I never sense that the music is disembodied. Thom Yorke's is an honest, sometimes prophetic voice which has been part of my musical vocabulary since I can remember really loving music. They wrote Fake Plastic Trees and Paranoid Android, both pretty much perfect songs, yet so very different.

3. Wilco - Thanks to the Vis for challenging me to engage Wilco beneath the surface of my limited exposure. Since digging deep into Being There and the Mermaid Avenue sessions in addition to their self evidently genius four prior albums, I cannot help but love them. Right now, I probably listen to them more than any other band, and I keep wanting more. I love their capacity for genre-bending and their outright dominant musicianship. When I saw them live a few months ago, I was convinced that I was witnessing one of the greatest American rock bands of all time in their prime.

4. The White Stripes - Two people, two instruments, seemingly limitless possibility. I love that Jack and Meg have pretty much deconstructed blues rock and put it back together in such a minimalist fashion. It's sometimes abrasive, occasionally tender, even hilarious, and always brilliant. I also LOVE the fact that they never have a set list for their live shows. Hopefully I will one day get to witness it.

5. The Decemberists - I believe it was Stephen Colbert who called them "hyper literate prog-rock." As Josh Overbay once said, "I feel smarter when I listen to the Decemberists." There is depth to their songwriting that keeps their songs from growing old with repeated listens. Each album is great in its own right, and The Tain is one of the best pieces of music I've ever heard. I'll never comprehend the Decemberists, and that's alright with me.

Two others who almost made my list are Bob Dylan and Anathallo, and I excluded them for the exact opposite reasons. Dylan's catalog of music is so large that I have not come even close to listening to it all, let alone digesting it. As I continue to chip away at it, he climbs up the list, but I can't quite say he's in my top 5 yet. Anathallo is not on the list because they are so very early in their career. Floating World is in my top 5 albums of all time, and their previous EP was genius as well, and as they continue to develop and record, I have no doubt that they will climb into the top five, but again, not yet.

That was fun.

Goodnight, everyone. Thanks for your hospitality, your love and your pants.

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