Thursday, March 26, 2009

Archbishop Rowan Williams on "Renewing the Face of the Earth"



Renewing the Face of the Earth: Human Responsibility and the Environment
Wednesday 25 March 2009


The Archbishop gives a lecture at the Ebor Lecture, York Minster, to spell out why respect for the environment is not an optional extra, particularly for Christians. Dr Williams suggests that "we are capable of changing our situation"; in "Christian terms, this needs a radical change of heart, a conversion." The Ebor Lectures are a series of lectures which aim to relate faith to public concerns.


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Read the entire lecture HERE

Some modern philosophers have spoken about the human face as the most potent sign of what it is that we can't master or exhaust in the life of a human other – a sign of the claim upon us of the other, the depths we can't sound but must respect. And while it is of course so ancient a metaphor to talk about the 'face' of the earth that we barely notice any longer that it is a metaphor, it does no harm to let some of these associations find their way into our thinking; because such associations resonate so strongly with a fundamental biblical insight into the nature of our relationship with the world we inhabit. 'The earth is the Lord's', says the twenty fourth psalm. In its context, this is primarily an assertion of God's glory and overall sovereignty. And it affirms a relation between God and the world that is independent of what we as human beings think about the world or do to the world. The world is in the hands of another. The earth we inhabit is more than we can get hold of in any one moment or even in the sum total of all the moments we spend with it. Its destiny is not bound only to human destiny, its story is not exhausted by the history of our particular culture or technology, or even by the history of the entire human race. We can't as humans oblige the environment to follow our agenda in all things, however much we can bend certain natural forces to our will; we can't control the weather system or the succession of the seasons. The world turns, and the tides move at the drawing of the moon. Human force is incapable of changing any of this. What is before me is a network of relations and interconnections in which the relation to me, or even to us collectively as human beings, is very far from the whole story. I may ignore this, but only at the cost of disaster. And it would be dangerously illusory to imagine that this material environment will adjust itself at all costs so as to maintain our relationship to it. If it is more than us and our relation with it, it can survive us; we are dispensable. But the earth remains the Lord's.

Read the entire lecture HERE

And, remember his video from New Year's, 2008 "Care for the environment teaches us about God" ... click HERE

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