January 10, 2019

The Environment (A Catholic Perspective)

We were made for relationship with the environment, our original job was to care for creation. Somehow we’ve forgotten about this role.

Mountain View

In case you missed my last post, last week I attended SEEK 2019 in Indianapolis. SEEK is a Catholic conference for college students where we get to come together and learn about our faith through fellowship, talks, Mass, and more.

I got the pleasure of listening to Dr. Scott Powell talk about the environment. Scott is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, a theologian, and an author. He founded Camp Wojtyla, a Catholic youth outdoor adventure program in Colorado. He also co-hosts “The Word on the Hill with the Lanky Guys” podcast. Scott is a pretty cool dude, learn more about him here.

The Creation Story

In Genesis, God formed the earth and all the people, animals, and vegetation on it. In fact He created the earth in a pattern. On day 1 He said “Let there be light” and on day 4 He created the sun, moon, and stars to reflect that light. On day 2 He created the sand and the sea and on day 5 He put the birds and fish on the earth to live on the sand and in the sea. Finally, on day 6 he created the animals and humans to fill the space of vegetation He created on day 3.

I loved that during his talk, Scott taught us some Hebrew. On the 7th day, God formed a covenant. Scott told us that while in English we understand 7 a number in a sequence of days, in Hebrew 7 is the word for covenant. Through this covenant, God turned His earth into a family.

Scott went on to explain our creation. We were created for four relationships: 1) with God 2) with ourselves 3) with the people around us, and 4) with the rest of creation. All of these relationships are supposed to be in harmony. But in our world, they often aren’t.

The sin of creation is making ourselves the gods of nature. When this happens we are not in relationship with the rest of creation leading to an imbalance.

From Adam to Jesus

Further, Scott developed the idea that Adam’s job was to till and to keep the Garden of Eden (also stated to work and protect). Man’s first ever job was to care for creation! If that doesn’t convince us to care about the environment, I don’t know what will.

Adam failed at his job, though. The serpent got in and Adam did not protect Eve from the serpent’s evil.

But Jesus, the savior, came to do what Adam, a sinner, did not. Soon before His death, Jesus spoke to God saying “not my will, but Yours be done” while in a garden. He was then buried in a garden. He rose in a garden and was then mistaken as a gardener. Since God calls us to live like Jesus, He calls us to garden.

Scott concluded his talk saying that as Catholics we believe that our resurrected bodies will remain the same. Jesus’ body looked the same after He died. This implies that creation will also remain the same after Jesus comes again. Hence, what we are doing now to destroy the environment will not magically be wiped away when Jesus comes.


What to Do

So what do we do? Scott didn’t give specifics on how to help the environment. Instead, he left it up to us. How you work to protect the environment is up to you.

Personally, I know I am living out my call to protect and care for the environment by eating a plant-based diet. Methane gas produced from cows far exceeds that produced from driving cars (source).

Further, I am proud to not support animal cruelty and death. I believe that in caring for God’s creation, I should not only help the environment but also the animals that God put on this earth (not for us to eat!!)

Thanks to Dr. Scott Powell for speaking at SEEK and inspiring this post. I’d love to know how you care for the environment! Let me know in the comments below or on social media @theplantbasedcatholic

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