Continuing the words of Ian Crumpton:
Arnold Toynbee the historian, as far back as the 1930s could see an ecological crisis coming. And he pointed out that it was the rise of monotheism that led to it. Primal societies knew they were dependent on nature’s forces. With the coming of monotheism, the sky father type god came to dominate. The earth mother, and all the spirits of nature were annihilated. The earth was de-sacralised. A dualistic world view emerged, deepening the contrast between the divine and the human. So in the one god, the qualities of all the others were preserved, and humans were freed to experiment with nature.
That has brought great blessings: It enabled the rise of science and technology. But it is now bringing curses. The harmony between the forces of nature was destroyed by monotheism. Certainly there have been attempts to reconnect. The doctrine of the Incarnation - the enfleshment of God in Jesus bridged the gap between God and humanity. People like St Francis of Assisi in the 12th Century reconnected. But today the need to reconnect on that deepest spiritual level is critically urgent. How do we do it? How do we take off our cultural shoes, and feel with a new sensitivity the holy ground beneath our feet?
We do it through the spiritual, the religious dimension of our life together. Religion is always renewing itself, new forms emerging, new celebrations – “Matariki” is a Kiwi example – the old Maori new year invested with new meaning for today. A living faith is always blending, adapting, evolving, finding new ways to make real the transcendent in a changing world. Not rooted in past dogmas, but in a new comprehension of our unity with everything there is. Religion is based on reverence for life which in the ultimate analysis, is reverence for ourselves. “This is the temple of the Lord.”
We can choose a religion centred round the savage and limited gods called technos and economos, that reduce our lives to their physical underpinnings, negate our transcendental values, and make the ultimate virtue of economic efficiency. Or we can endorse a religion based on compassion and transcendental visions of human and planetary destiny. So may our horizons continually unfold to embrace the cosmos. This is the choice we must make if we are to exercise our responsibility and our freedom: responsibility for the past, and freedom to have a future. The drama of our future life is being played out now in the theatre of our minds.
Jesus embraced such a faith – a faith based on compassion and a vision of the transcendent. He called that vision “The Kingdom of God.” He symbolised it by taking a child in his arms, by reversing the order and suggesting the first would be last and the last first. In his vision, the poor are blessed, the meek inherit the earth, and the peacemakers are the true children of God.