Reconnected to the Earth and Natural World We are going to have to get serious about caring for Creation and tend to the needs of the planet upon which our Path is placed. More than that, as the fully conscious self-expression of the Natural World, might we not also realize that our consciousness is an emergent unfolding of Nature itself, and that our full health requires that we become fully are of Nature as part of ourselves and ourselves as part of Nature?
Thus, the JP21 Bigger World moves beyond simply caring for the earth into reintegrating ourselves into the natural life processes of the earth. This reintegration begins by spending time in the natural world, not as a consumer of experiences, but as a natural being participating in the processes of the ecosystem in which you find yourself. There are a variety of practices that work to situate in a natural environment, and which can open and expand your awareness to incorporate ecological systems into your own consciousness. [Read about Practices of Earth-Consciousness] There is resistance among many Christians to engage in Earth-Consciousness because of fear about "worshipping the earth," or "confusing the Creator with the Creation," or, worse, because of a long tradition of Christian teaching that the body and physical world (=earth and all life on it) is corrupt and sinful, and is to be overcome and even transcended. "Think of nothing earthly-minded," is the way one ancient hymn puts it. But this interpretation of Christianity neglects the older understanding, found in the Bible, that God created the earth and all its physical creatures, plant and animal, and called it "good." Jesus himself never said a single thing against the natural world or it's creatures. In fact, he considered the natural world and the processes of life as providing the means to deeper spiritual insight.
In his article, "Creation in Community - Faith and the Environment," Dr. Terence Fretheim argues that the Creation stories in Genesis, in fact, actually emphasize that humans are to remain actively engaged and connected with the earth: God's creation is built to go somewhere; the potential of becoming is built into the very structure of things. And this is so not just because God does not exhaust the divine creativity in the world's first week, but because of the creative capacities given to the creatures. God creates a paradise, but this is not a static state of affairs. The creation is not presented as "a finished product," all wrapped up with a big red bow and handed over to the creatures to preserve as it was originally created. God creates a dynamic world in which the future is open to a number of possibilities and in which creaturely activity is crucial for proper creational developments. In pursuing these tasks, human beings are to reflect the character of God in the life of the world, to be God as God would be to the non-human creatures. Human beings cannot rest back and assume that God will take care of everything or that the future of the creation is solely in God's hands. They are called, not to passivity relative to the earth, but to genuine engagement, the nature of which will have significant implications for the future of the environment.
The environmental and climate crisis in which we find ourselves can be traced to our disengagement with and estrangement from the Natural World, i.e., the multiple interconnected systems of the Earth. Our estrangement is due in large part to the manner in which Industrialism has commodified the Earth's systems and their components and constituent beings into products for human consumption. One of the tasks for achieving Bigger Mind is to disentangle from the Industrialist mindset and value system, which is not easy to do, given the fact that Industrialism is an outgrowth of the rise of scientific discovery, capitalism, and colonial expansion. All of the Earth's land, seas, waterways, vegetation, animals, and human populations became objects for dissection, experimentation, exploitation, and conquest. The vast bulk of human knowledge that we now possess is the result of the intersecting spheres of science, capitalism, and colonialism. Because contemporary cultures across the world owe their existence and identities to the after-effects of these modernist systems, it requires concerted, intentionally and repeated efforts and actions to reverse the damaging psychological and spiritual effects of Industrialism, let alone the environmental devastation it has caused.
Interfaith and Interspiritual – Multicultural, diversity, appreciation of complexity functioning together
• Because our world is more populous than ever before in human history, we have to view ourselves as part of one diverse human family. Jesus said very clearly, “And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).