Monday, October 10, 2016

The Agony OF the Garden (Part 2): Can’t civilization hear and heed the groaning of creation?

A Reaction to "St. Paul and the Groaning of Creation" - A Theological- Humanistic Approach

 By Abercio V. Rotor, Ph.D.
Living with Nature - School on Blog []
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If rationality – the power of reason to know what is good and bad, and even know the best and the worst of situations – is the singular gift of God to man, and to no other else among the millions of living organisms on earth, how come man destroys what he builds? Destroys that very thing he calls beautiful?  Destroys other living things, their habitats and the environment itself that he shares with? 

Why should man wreck his only spaceship, the Planet Earth?  And finally, why should man destroy himself, his race, his entire species? It is a shame to our Creator that we, humans are the only species that is destroying its own kind.
What is this rationality that scholars talk about?  What is the meaning of faith? Prayer? Research?  Teaching?  Progress? Values? How can this thing rationality make us true  guardians of God’s creation?

Creation groans.  It  protests.  This time against man.  Man is the enemy of the earth.

I presume that this is the “restlessness” of creation the paper discussed, and it could be that restlessness Paul described as the sin-story of Genesis 3. It is restlessness in man in seeking more and more of what he wishes to have – his want over his need.  The quest for the highest building, the fastest car, the state-of- the art of entertainment, pleasure and comfort.  
Utopia Harmony, Robert Owen  
Quest for a Utopia built from the wealth of the earth. And the restlessness to have more of these even at the expense of others.  And at the expense of Mother Earth.   

All in the name of civilization.

“The ultimate test of any civilization
                                             Is not in its inventions and deeds;
   But the endurance of Mother Nature
           In keeping up with man’s endless needs.”

                            AVR, Light in the Woods.

But what is civilization?  Can’t civilization hear and heed the groaning of creation?

  • It is civilization that wiped out the American Indian from the Great Plains.  
  • It is civilization that plundered the Aztecs and Mayas Empires.  
  • It is civilization that brought the Spanish Armada’s to its final defeat.  
  • It is civilization that killed 6 million Jews during the Second World War.  
  • It is civilization that built the atomic bomb – and dropped it in two cities to defeat an already defeated enemy.  
  • It is civilization that made a clone animal, Dolly the Sheep. 
  • It is civilization that threatens the whale and the Philippine Eagle into extinction.  
  • It is civilization that is causing global warming and the many consequences destroying lives and properties.  
  • It is civilization that is causing today’s fuel crisis and food shortage. Drastic inflation and loss of currency value, the recession of America and consequently the world, ad infinitum.
All these constitute the groaning of creation. Creation gone wild and free. Creation without boundary.  Creation on a global scale.

Man needs a model.  Man needs conversion.

Paul is an embodiment of great men. We find in him the influence of Aristotle, the naturalist-philosopher-teacher, one of the greatest teachers of the world – the teacher of Alexander the Great;   Plato of  his concept of  a Utopian Republic, the asceticism of Stephen the first Christian saint he witnessed while being stoned to death. 
A touch of Paul is in Gandhi (photo right) philosophy of attaining peace through non-violence, in Saint Mother Teresa’s passion to help the poorest among the poor, in


Lincoln’s heroic struggle in abolishing slavery, in Maximillan Kolbe’s sacrifice by exchanging place with a doomed fellow prisoner, a father of young children, in a Nazi concentration camp.

Paul must have inspired Nobel Prize Awardee Wangari of Kenya (photo) in planting 40 million trees to reforest denuded and eroded watershed, and the advocacy of Fr. Nery Satur who was killed while protecting the forests of Bukidnon.

There is Paul in the online lessons in ecology, Paul in the syllabus in Philosophy of Man, in the books and manual about caring the sick. Other than the pages of the bible, more than a half of which he wrote or caused to be written, Paul is among the most read saints of the church of all times, indeed truly a doctor and a general of the faith.  Paul is in the temples of worship, Christian or non-Christian. Paul is in every Paulinian sister or teacher and student.  

Paul set a new horizon of sainthood, he an apostle – in fact, the greatest of them all, yet he was not one of the original apostles – because he never saw Christ, never walked with Him, never talked to Him – in person. Yet Christ was his way, his constant companion.  Christ was always in his heart and mind and spirit – and in fact, he gave himself and his life to Him.  

Which challenges the church and us today.  Around 10,000 saints - 30,000 to 50,000 including the lesser saints and the blessed ones - are venerated as soldiers of Christ and keepers of the faith.  The concept of sainthood took a new turn with the case of Kolbe (photos above) -   that of sainthood for charity. 

Along this line is the recent canonization of Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Kolkota.

But we have yet to have a saint for Nature the expression of God on earth, the environment.  Indeed there are heroes for Mother Earth featured by Time and cited by governments, private organizations and civil society. Among them, Rachel Carson (photo),  Jane Goodall, EC Schumacher, including present leaders like Al Gore and Michael Gorbachev (photo below) among dozens more.  

But looking back to Paul, the investiture for sainthood is only by Heaven and it is for the glory of God.  If that glory is the preservation of His creation, the protection of His face on earth, if that glory means relief from groaning arising from pain, loneliness, hunger, sickness, thirst, imprisonment, then that person who, like Paul, deserves the honor. He could be the first saint for the cause of the environment.

The earth actual breathes, the old folks used to tell us kids.  I still believe it. 

Acknowledgement: Internet images

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