Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Good Earth

"God called the dry land Earth...And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:10).

In chapter one, “The Earth's Vital Signs,” (State of the World 1988, W.W. Norton & Company) Lester R. Brown and Christopher Flavin gave a worrisome overview of what we have all done to pillage God's good earth. Forests worldwide are dying off to air pollutants; there is a depletion of ozone over Antarctica and the hole becomes wider each year, translating into possible lowered crop output and a rise in skin cancer and eye problems; loss of vital topsoil for many reasons; and on and on. It's an alarming assessment of a problem none of us can ignore.

We are our brother's keeper in so many ways. One of these ways is to take seriously our personal stewardship of whatever land we are fortunate to possess, for the land is not ours but God's. When the land goes, so goes the quality of life. To sin against the earth is to sin against God and each other. If we observe it in the different lights of the day -- the sunrise and sunset -- perhaps we can renew our commitment to preserve this spacious and gracious gift from God.

"That the sky is brighter than the earth means little unless the earth itself is appreciated and enjoyed. Its beauty loved gives the right to aspire to the radiance of the sunrise and the stars" (Helen Keller, My Religion, 1927). These words of love for God's earth come from a sensitive soul who could neither see nor hear. Franklin Roosevelt was also very concerned about the soil and, in a letter to the governors dated February 26, 1937, he urged uniform soil conservation laws. He also said, "European countries...treat timber as a crop. We treat timber resources as if they were a mine." We could amend that to: "[We] treat [all] resources as if they were mine." It is imperative that we develop a different mind- and mine-set about our God-given resources. Our earth was created to be beautiful and fruitful, and we are guardians of this gift. “Nature gives to every time and every season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress” (Charles Dickens).

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