Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Over the Weekend

Over the weekend, I pondered and prayed over Revelation 3:15-17 (see previous post for entire text). I also read some Wendell Berry, in particular his essay entitled "Christianity and the Survival of Creation." In this essay, Berry accuses the modern Christian church of creating a dichotomy between spirit and matter that has contributed to the destruction of Creation by Christians and accuses the church of collusion with oppressive economic and governmental powers (which he calls the modern day "Caesar"). Berry opens his essay with the presentation of the fact that no government that is willing, able, and ready to destroy Creation at a moments notice for profit or political gain is able to classify itself as a "Christian" government and that the church colludes with the "Christian" government time and time again under the false pretense created by those in power to supposedly be working for the best interest of the Christian church (for more of this see Boyd's Myth of a Christian Nation). Because of this, Berry calls for outright separation btwn church and state in order to uphold the integrity of the church.

Berry also maintains that the dichotomy created by the church between the spirit and matter in the misreading of Genesis 2:7 which has driven a wedge between the Creation and humanity wherein the human is seen as body + soul when the actual form that is given is soul as dust + breath. B/c of this body/soul dualism, the church clings to the soul as being divine, infallible, and indestructible and the body as being imperfect, flawed, and disposable. In this dualism, where Creation is equated with the body as imperfect and disposable, Christians who have been taught to cling to the soul and forsake the body make the mistake that it can somehow forsake the dust and keep the breath when it is clearly and undeniably a blasphemy to do so. Berry maintains the modern church's emphasis on soul-saving as a clear attempt at maintaining and reinforcing this dualism. Berry blasts the church for its emphasis on saving the individualized soul "as an eternal piece of property" and for its inability to preach a true, holistic gospel free from materialism and the rugged individualist approach of capitalism.

Berry maintains that the modern church "has, for the most part, stood silently by while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag" Berry writes, "and chanted the slogans of the empire." He goes on to say that it has falsely "admired Caesar and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caesar (who Berry notes is no longer simply a "destroyer of armies, cities, and nations" but is now a "contradicter of the fundamental miracle of life") Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation." He points back at his earlier accusation regarding the failings of the "Christian" political agenda that "Caesar" prays to a God "whose works he is prepared at any moment to destroy." In its silence and its false hope in the "Christian" political agenda, the modern church has colluded with and supported the destruction of Creation.

I tend to agree with Berry on a lot of his points, especially about the connection between the modern church and the government and the dualism enforced by the modern church regarding body and soul. This is why I am most assuredly postmodern. I also found a lot of connection btwn the passage in Revelation and Berry's essay, in that this is the lukewarm church, that complains of its poverty while the poor starve and complains of its hardship and persecution while Creation is being destroyed, which God is speaking of "spitting out." I care for Creation and tend to be in the camp of Christians that can explicitly deliniate btwn pantheism, panentheism, and Christian care for Creation and see that when we love and care for Creation, we are doing so out of our love for God, neighbor, and ourselves. I also begin to wonder, in light of the recent discovery of another possibly inhabitable planet, about the possibility of leaving behind a planet we have already written off as disposable for another planet. Would we take our commitment to our maintaining the next planet more seriously? What would it mean for us as the people of God to leave one planet for another?

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