Laudato Si’ on a Capable Culture

by Alexei Laushkin

The problem is that we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis (Laudato Si’, 53).

Laudato Si’ makes a number of very poignant observations, perhaps none more so than the need to build and embody a culture capable of confronting the crisis.

Now what crisis is the encyclical referring to? Is it the climate crisis? The technocratic paradigm that helps to diminish human life? Is it our disregard for the elderly or the unborn?

The answer is yes, yes, and yes, but perhaps the biggest problem is what underlies all of those problems, mainly human sin. This putting off of sin has to begin with each of us and has to be embodied in the body of Christ even as we make our views known and push for change in the public square. In this way reaching back to a sense of personal and social holiness/righteousness is key.

In the United States the problem of our culture is particularly evident. On the same week that the President took significant action to reduce carbon, Congress could not pass legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. As Pope Francis has said we do not yet have the culture to confront the crisis at hand. Our inconsistent regard and at times totally disregard for human life as at the center of this crisis.  Here’s Bishop Kalistos Ware on what exactly this image and likeness is that motivates our common concern for human dignity:

The image is that which man possesses from the beginning, and which enables him to set out in the first place on the spiritual Way; the likeness is that which he hopes to attain at his journey’s end.

Laudato Si’ gives fresh impetus to the notion that work to engage issues that have such an impact on human life flow from a similar conviction. Here’s Laudato Si’ on why those of us who are concerned about creation, can’t ignore the unborn:

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away (136).

And further on the interconnection or similar well-spring of concern for human life:

When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature (117).

 

Pope Francis is right we have a crisis of culture, and it’s well time that we address and embody a culture of life. Until we do so we won’t have the culture capable of really valuing all of life well.

Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network

Creation Care is Truly a Matter of Life

By Rev. Mitch Hescox

Jesus calls the children dear,
Come to me and never fear,
For I love the little children of the world;
I will take you by the hand,
Lead you to the better land,
For I love the little children of the world.”

Refrain

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Herbert Woolston

Many of us grew up singing the above song during Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. Even today in the midst of wonderful praise music and enduring hymns, Jesus Loves the Little Children and Jesus Loves Me are tunes that simply connect our spirits to God’s Spirit. These songs bond us to a God who loves and cares for life, especially the lives of children.  Indeed all the children of the world are precious in God’s eyes.  From the unborn child to West Virginian toddler drinking poisoned water to the hungry African boy, to the flood ravished Pakistani girl, to the struggling South Pacific family attempting to fish as coral dies and their daily catch drifts away, they are precious in His sight.

God created this earth as a sustainable garden that would provide our daily bread, if only we would tend His handy work.  Children are deeply impacted by the way we do or don’t do, creation care.  Unfortunately, creation care doesn’t seem to register on many hearts, even in the Church. Many dismiss creation care as earth worship, tree hugging, or other pejorative terms, simply because we fail in connecting our actions and attitudes surrounding creation care with life, especially the precious children of the world, children die, go hungry, contract diseases, flee their homes, or experience countless other abuses.

Jesus loves the little children, so should we! Beginning now, the Evangelical Environmental Network seeks to change our perceptions by launching Creation Care: It’s a Matter of Life.  Our effort over the next year will focus on how creation care challenges us to find the hope filled abundant life offered through Jesus for all God’s children, as we live life as true Christian disciples.

We invite you to journey this story with us.  Share with us how God works in you to care for creation and His precious children. Tell us your stories of hope, peace, and joy as we reflect God’s image into this crazy world and build a wonderful grace filled future for our children and all the children of the world.

Rev. Mitch Hescox is President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. He lives in New Freedom, PA.