Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our stewardship of creation

The Old Testament Canticle for Saturday Morning Prayer of Week III of the Psalter is taken from the Book of Wisdom: "Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your word. And in your wisdom have established humankind to rule the creatures produced by you, And to govern the world in holiness and righteousness, and to render judgment in integrity of heart" (Wis. 9:1-3- NAB).

What struck me about these words this morning, in light of a few short chapters on positivism and its consequences I read last night in Von Balthasar's short descriptive summary of his grand triology, Epilogue, is not that we are to govern the world, but how we are to govern it, "in holiness and righteousness," that is, as stewards, who will be held to account for our stewardship by the Creator. This flies in the face of those who insist that Christianity is responsible for environmental devastation. This specific challenge was met quite a few years ago by the then-Cardinal Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger, in a series of Lenten lectures that was later published as 'In the Beginning…': A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, which, among other things, noted that the natural environment was in far worse shape in the then still communist block countries than in the West, though the West is not let-off-the-hook.



Something else worth considering in this regard, a point made emphatically by N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, is that, according to Christian belief, heaven comes down to earth. In other words, to paraphrase the only phrase of the tenth LDS Article of Faith with which I agree, the earth will be renewed and receive its celestial glory.

Of more immediate concern is something Von Balthasar noted: "the aim of science is seen, with fewer and fewer exceptions, to lie in controlling or 'changing' whatever comes within its grasp. Science subordinates itself to technology and productivity

"The consequences of this restriction are tragic: we get precisely the opposite of what we bargained for: slavery, not freedom" (Epilogue, pg. 23).

Since I am tossing out titles of relevant works, I would be remiss not to suggest Heidegger's philosophical essay "The Question Concerning Technology", in which he observed, "The current conception of technology, according to which it is a means and a human activity, can therefore be called the instrumental and anthropological definition of technology."

To end on a lighter note, I'll use Kip, Napoleon's brother from the movie Napoleon Dynamite, as an example both of the anima technica vacua as well as human resistance to it, at least token resistance because, after all, he "still love[s] technology always and forever"-

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