A Joyful Community of Life

Peter Sawtell publishes a weekly web newsletter, Eco Justice Notes.  The folowing is an exerpt from "The Most Ecological Psalm," distributed on July 12, 2013.

"Psalm 104 celebrates a world that includes humans, but does not center on them. The richly ecological core of the passage, verses 10-23, starts by tracing how springs of water provide for a flourishing of life, naming trees, birds and wild asses. People are beneficiaries of this abundance -- water is essential to the plants and cattle that people consume, and it allows for "wine that gladdens the human heart" -- but all other creatures also thrive in this well-watered world. The wonders of creation are seen in a web of relationships."

Trees are watered by the springs, and in them various kinds of birds build their nests. Some kinds of birds gather in the cedars of Lebanon, but "the stork has its home in the fir trees." The distinctiveness of other habitats is celebrated, with wild goats in the high mountains, and coneys in the rocks. Each of these creatures has an appropriate place to which it is well suited.

This psalm puts humans and lions into overlapping ecological niches that modern science would define as nocturnal and diurnal. At night, the lions and other animals of the forest creep out; by day, "people go out to their work and to their labor until the evening" -- and then turn things back over to the creatures of the night.

Nowhere in the psalm is there any hint that the world was made for humans, nor does it suggest that we are in control of it all. Trees and grass, goats and lions, people and birds, day and night all are tied together in a joyous and gracious community of life.

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Dominion and Stewardship

The meaning of the word translated as "dominion" in the book of Genesis creates a great deal of controversy, especially among some Christian groups. Here is an excerpt from a reflection, first published in the Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2013, by IPC Chairperson, Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin.

"Today, almost unimaginably, we have completed the call of Genesis One. We have been fruitful and multiplied, filled the Earth and mastered much of it. We have become a geophysical force. While once we worried about how the Earth could hurt us, now we must worry about how we are hurting the Earth. The question is: What do we do now? What do we do when the call of Genesis One has been fulfilled? The answer, quite simply, is to turn the page and read Genesis Two..."

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