Sunday, March 3, 2013

Abel Emerging by Ron Rude-a reconsideration of the Christian story for a sustainable world

Ron is leading an OLLI Course on Presidents and doing a fine job. He shared information on two books he has written. This book report is about his first book. He is a Lutheran Pastor and therefore a believer in God, Jesus Christ and all that entails, but he is far different from the norm in that he also accepts that the Universe has evolved over eons of time and that modern Homo sapiens emerged about 70,000 years ago. This is a bold refutation of the standard beliefs of most who profess a belief in Christianity, those who proclaim without reservation that every word written in the Bible is irrefutable and true. This author proclaims the story of Adam and Eve is not an actual event but rather a way of expressing the unfolding of mankind. The title of the book relates to Abel as representing those humans who are givers, ready and willing to live frugally with respect for all living creatures, while Cain represents the takers, those who grab all they can for themselves without regard to the destruction of nature around them. He further states that the Cain’s represent the majority of humans in positions of power including Christians. In his introduction he proclaims that the Christian story needs to be re-considered. He bases this on the fact that the story is merely about Homo sapiens. He believes, as I do, that it needs to also include the wider community of life, from vegetation and animals to reptiles and bacteria, from landscapes and oceans to rivers and air. He believes, as I do, that Planet Earth is listing toward calamity and that humans are responsible. One comment he makes that I particularly agreed with was “Earth is humanities home (not a disposable way station on the road to an afterlife or heaven). He concludes this section by stating there is hope (but not in the short term). He states that humans lived in harmony until about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago and that the relationship changed from living in harmony to one in which humans were regarded as special and that the rest of nature was here to be used and abused if necessary to serve their needs. He states that the Cain era started about 8,000 years ago. Here is where I want to intercede with my own thoughts. I believe the change occurred when formal religion took hold such as written in the Bible and the Koran. In the Bible it is clearly stated that man had dominion over all creatures on Earth. Further it promotes the afterlife as the goal, implying that life on Earth was only a passing step on the way to eternal life. It also refers to the end of the world as we know it and therefore it promotes the idea that the Earth will be destroyed anyway so use it to our hearts content as it doesn’t matter. At the present time it is estimated that over 30,000 species are being wiped out on an annual basis. Cain’s culture has gained the upper hand. Entire peoples have been decimated, whole cultures laid waste. Traditions lost, family systems broken up and ecologies endangered to the brink of ruin. Like a cancer, Cain knows no boundaries and harbors no shame. Cain’s focus is on self, on immediate opportunities for exploitation, and an insatiable quest for more and more. Abel has regard for the water, soil and air, as well as respect for God, the whole community of life. In Chapter 5 the author does refer to the Cain philosophy that the world will be destroyed anyway giving humans license to do as they will without regard to the effect on nature. Chapter 10, he addresses the subject of afterlife. He states he believes in heaven, but only after we have lived a life that blesses life here. He states “If I can’t be faithful with God’s community of life on Earth, how will I be faithful with God’s community of life in heaven”? He suggests that Cain’s goal is to rule heaven also. Chapter 11, Is there hope? In March 2008 the Southern Baptist Church declared that they had been too timid in the care of God’s creation. He finishes the book with hope that we will wake up in time to learn to live with nature as a partner rather than to be used. There are efforts well known of groups dedicated to this cause. We need to support them and hope for the best. That is the least we can do. Jack B. Walters March 2, 2013

No comments: