eco-theology and a liturgy of life

May 19, 2010

After a great conversation earlier today with one of the student pastors around the University of Pretoria (not Dutch Reformed), I starting thinking about the small practical sides of living eco-friendly again. How do we bring it down to earth, so to speak. Out of the big atmospheric questions (not that those are not important), into the daily actions of living. And doing it eco-friendly. And keeping it practical. And since we talk about theology mostly on this blog (although the non-religious should also be able to identify with much of these thoughts), making it a spiritual thing, a faith thing, a theology thing… eco-theology. And since we recognize that there is this huge crisis we need to respond to, and we have this tradition of liturgy in the church, of participating in actions which point to a greater reality, and form us with this greater reality in mind, let’s talk about liturgy. But hopefully most of us have realized by now that we are not primarily formed by what happens Sunday morning in church, but by what happens day-after-day in life. So I’ll talk about a liturgy of life. eco-theology and a liturgy of life.

Two short suggestions:

  1. I’ve mentioned a few short thoughts on food and theology in the past. Food is a great liturgical act. For better or for worse. I can go about weekly to pick up the trash in the different streams around Pretoria, and really, we should spend more time picking up trash, but it can easily remain external to my being, something I do from time to time to feel that I’ve done something eco-friendly. But change your diet, and you change a pattern, a rhythm, a way of life. This is true for changing your diet in many ways. I would suggest that the food we eat can become a primary part of an eco-theology liturgy of life. Food has been central to spirituality since like forever. Fasting. Feasting. Eucharist. Eat only what you need, not more. Eat only the amount of meat that you need, not more. Eat with others, don’t prepare for only one person.
  2. Travel the speed of God, the speed of the people. Many have written about slowing down as an act of spirituality, as finding God in a slower way of life. I’ve mentioned becoming part of my own context more through public transport. For many of us the reality is that we travel faster and more than the average person. We rush around in our own car to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, using way more energy than the average person, and missing the place where most people are. And if we take the incarnation seriously, we’d have to say that this is where we’d find God as well. Part of our eco-friendly liturgy of life I’d suggest could be, travel more with others. And the reality is that if I change the way I do my daily travels, I change my whole way of life! No longer in charge of everything, not longer always able to be where I want to be when I want to be, but part of a greater system. Interconnected with the whole society through my travels. Liturgically reminding my day by day of the realities of average life.

Thanx to the community in which I live, there commitment to the environment, and willingness to think through actions, in the first I’ve had the privilege of dwelling into. And 18 months down the line, I find myself constantly reminded of the reality of economic and ecological injustice every time I find myself in a place where people just never think about food. The second still lies there waiting for me every time I drive past the taxi rank close to my house.


2 Responses to “eco-theology and a liturgy of life”

  1. Leon Says:

    Hi Cobus, cool blog. Geniet jou gedagtes oor eco-theology veral die twee voorstelle, nog nie so daaroor gedink nie.
    Ek is self Ng predikant hier op Reitz in die vrystaat en raak net almeer bewus van hoe belangrik eko-teologie vir ons getuienis as gelowiges is.
    Anyway, dankie dat jy my weer bietjie aan die dink gesit het. Blessings daar in Kameeldrif!!


  2. Hello, I am very interested in learning more of your thinking and perhaps sharing some of mine. I have a new book just published: The Space Between Church and
    Not-Church ~ A Sacramental Vision for the Healing of Our Planet. I think there might be two significant pieces that I can offer the ecological/spiritual conversation. One is the call for humans to reclaim their proper and appropriate place within the planetary ecosystem – not at the pinnacle of creation charged with dominion and rule, but within the ecosystem, integral and intrinsic to it. In other words, a shift from anthropocentric to biocentric. The second offering has to do with the right brain exploration of healing our planet – art, music, poetry, in other words, liturgy. There are so few blogs out there that are making the connection between ecology and spirituality, particularly ecology and liturgy, I am wondering if we might have similar interests. I’ll stop there and hope that you respond.

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