Wednesday, July 15, 2009

taking care of the earth

last week i was inundated with "take care of the earth" messages. my church had a discussion about global warming; i saw food, inc. in the theater; and i finally watched who killed the electric car on video.

there's a lot that can be said about these topics, theological and not, about what christians should do/think. but i think everyone (myself included) is making it more complicated than it needs to be.

christians are not supposed to be selfish. sometimes they are, but i think they all know that they shouldn't be, and most of them are trying not to be. if there was a small amount of food on the table, you would take it all and leave the other people with nothing, or less than what you took -- so why would you use up all the oil and not leave any for our children's children? why would you put fertilizer in the ground that ruins the soil so that you can have an easier time farming but the next farmer has to content with dried-out, poisoned soil?

just because you don't see the victim of your selfishness face to face, doesn't mean it's not selfish. christians should try to take good care of the earth -- it's part of being unselfish.

God's gender

Pastor: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Congregation: It is right to give him (God) thanks and praise.
this little substitution ("God" instead of "him") is pretty much the only way i modify the church service i attend every week.

it's not that i'm some kind of stark raving feminist (no offense to them, some of them are my closest friends). it's just that i'm trying to change the way i think of God.

i don't believe God is male. for that matter, i don't believe God is female. after all, God is transcendent, not limited/divided/categorizable in the way we humans are. i'd say God is both male and female, or neither.

but what i believe about God doesn't match up to how i think of God. i think of him as male. see? i just said him without even thinking about it. i picture him talking with a dad-like voice. most of the metaphors i have for God are male: king, (male) shepherd, carpenter... i don't like it. i don't believe it. it's just a reflex, and i don't want that reflex.

i'm not saying we should rewrite the Bible with all gender-neutral pronouns (not like we even have those in english). i don't even necessarily think my church should make this substitution in this line of the liturgy. but i do think that the more i call God "him", the more i slant my image of him toward "him", whereas saying that line a little differently than i've said it for so many years helps remind me not to do that.