I could have titled this post “Why Humans Keep on Destroying the Earth,” or “How to Dangerously Inflate a Child’s Ego.” My first grade daughter came home from catechism class a few weeks ago with a freshly done quiz. We always sit down and go through the girls’ worksheets and other hand outs and talk a bit about them–so I know what they’re being taught, and can understand what they are understanding. I often let them know there is more than one way to look at most teachings in the church, and offer more perspective. This time, I cried inside.
If you take a look at Quiz 3 , you’ll see that the lesson must have been all about how much God loves us. This is cool. But when we try to illustrate that point by comparing God’s love between people and the rest of nature, we reinforce a false sense of superiority and separateness. If we are a beautiful part of a whole creation, how can we be sure God loves us more than the flowers or birds or monkeys? After all, we’re the only species needing a savior, right?
What if we weren’t taught from such a young age that we are better, more loved, and more like God, than the rest of creation? How might our view, and our stewardship, of the rest of this Earth be different then? The constant, and I think unfortunate, reminders that we are superior to the rest of it all is a big reason it’s so hard for us to take things like climate change, pollution and destruction of ecosystems seriously. If we are more important, more worthy of God, then why does the rest really matter? If we are here only temporarily, in a wasteland of sin, just preparing to go to some other place when we die, then who cares about this planet?
And so the story goes…
I wonder if this “place” we call heaven isn’t a place at all. Not some location, somewhere else. I wonder if it is a state of being, a paradise of peace and no more wanting, here in this life, and after. And I wonder how differently we might view and understand our interconnectedness with the rest of creation. What if we aren’t more important? What if we can’t love and praise God more than a flower?