Friday, May 31, 2019

From My Nature Journal: “Behold the Earth” -- A Review


Time for a blog shout-out to a new resource brought to my attention by a new friend here in our new digs. Sorry, that’s a lot of new, but the issue the resource presents goes back to the beginning. The very beginning. As in, the Garden of Eden beginning.

Namely, it's a simple video resource/documentary released recently called Behold the Earth. BtE is a music-rich film that explores the subject of earth stewardship/creation care as a critically important spiritual practice for all people of faith, and asks tough questions about church engagement with environmental issues.

Do you think of earth care as one of the core issues of Christian discipleship? Many church-goers do not, and, I'm very sorry to say, perhaps particularly us evangelicals. I cannot begin to count the number of times people have expressed their surprise to me in meeting an evangelical concerned with creation care. What a sad reality. And I'm not sure what the deal is here. Is it some evangelicals' sole preoccupation with personal salvation, or at least that perception from others? Is it poor exegesis on our part with Jesus' admonition to 'love not the world' (1 John 2:15), which isn't referencing creation care at all? Is it the evangelical error of equating the issue with 'liberalism' (whatever that is)? Or do we limit the stewardship idea to the traditional mantra of time, talent and treasure? If so, then I'm flummoxed: if God's creation is not also treasure to us, I'm not certain what is. Of all people, evangelicals, as 'people of the whole book,' should be at the forefront of the issue.

How is it that we forget that the charge to steward creation is the very first commandment in the Bible? Yup, Genesis 1:25 and 2:15. And don't get hung up here on the words dominion and subdue; the words are far richer and more complex than appear on the surface, surprisingly so if we truly get into them. But I'll write on that another time.

OK, end of sermon. Sorry. I am likely preaching to the choir. Let me highlight the resource.

Set with lovely videography and provocative music, Behold the Earth features conversations with legendary biologists Edward O. Wilson, Theo Colburn and Calvin DeWitt, interspersed with the perspectives of emerging leaders Katherine Hayhoe and Corina Newsome, and founder of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action Ben Lowe. Yet this is no talking head documentary. In addition to the stunning video, it is full of fabulous Appalachian-style folk music, a pleasure to listen to in its own right, featuring Grammy winners and musicologists Rhiannon Giddens, Dirk Powell, and Tim Eriksen. Extensive music is interwoven in such a way as to give the viewer a contemplative opportunity to reflect on the verbal material just presented, and, if you're like me, in addition to the subject matter, the music is the thing you will remember long after the documentary has finished, and may be the thing you want to come back to again and again. It has certainly spurred my interest in these artists.

One final thing. I've gotten involved here in our new Washington community with a cooperative of churches called Greening Congregations Collaborative. It consists of members from numerous area churches who want to bring a greater awareness of earth stewardship to their congregations by creating and sponsoring cooperative events, initiatives and presentations that highlight creation care as a critical part of Christian discipleship. Does your church have such a committee or team, even a small group of people interested in championing this concern in your church fellowship? This simple, one-hour movie can provide you a quality way to introduce this subject to your church leadership and your friends. It's not intended to resource those of you who are already advocating for this issue in your sphere, though it can inspire you, as it has me; it's intended to touch those who may not yet be there, and is a great discussion starter. Here's the trailer.
~~ RGM, May 31 2019

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