Religion and rape of the Earth

Meadowcreek is roaring in anticipation of visitors this week.  Three new potential residents and the official state archaeologist are coming this week.  One of the new residents is a 17 month old child.  He will be fun to have in the community.

Hard to say who we are looking forward to most: the child or the archaeologist.  Talk about comparing apples and oranges.

the-rape-of-the-sabine-women-the-rape-of-the-daughters-of-leucippus-9Actually Meadow Creek is roaring from all the recent rain, but the arrival of our visitors will bring several days of sun.  Always love the bright sun after a rain.

We are blessed with so much water at Meadowcreek.  Contemplating how much of the world is desert, we feel even more blessed.

Once I did a long hike among hilltop villages in Jordan.  Hardy olive trees survived in depressions dug in the limestone.  All the topsoil was gone.

The same is true all through the Middle East.  In Syria, Iraq and Jordan the lack of water is due to the people’s destruction of their ecosystem through first cutting all the trees and then overgrazing. Their religions teach them to subdue the earth and that they have.

After destroying the natural ecosystems to feed their voracious cities, for eons they relied on water flowing in from the Turkish mountains.  The Tigris and the Euphrates both originate in Eastern Turkey and once fed a verdant valley known as the Fertile Crescent.  Now Turkey had dammed the rivers and is keeping the water at home.

Yet the monotheistic continue to run their goats everywhere and care not about nature, only about following the tenets of their destructive religions.  For an agnostic, it’s tempting to blame monotheism for the problems of the Middle East.  After all their sacred texts are replete with phrases like:  “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

The word “subdue,” in the original Hebrew, is kabash. Its meaning is irrefutable; it means “subdue” or “enslave”, and even connotes “molest” or “rape.”

But the agnostics and atheists are wrong.  The destruction of the land began long before anyone conceived of Judaism or Islam or Christianity.  These religion’s beliefs about ecology just reflected the dominant mindset which has ruled man and rules all species since time immemorial: use whatever is around you to help your species prosper and thrive.

This mindset is rooted in the brutal past experience of man learning to work with nature. In the search for food, life sometimes meant starvation and scrounging for anything edible. Our mastery of nature means that today’s corn and melons are thousands of times more productive than those of prehistoric man. Today it is easier to farm and our yields are greater thanks to those who came before us and their desire to subdue nature.

The attitude of dominating or subduing Nature has had the unintended side effect of creating pollution and destruction of entire ecosystems.  And when these ecosystems are destroyed, so is the society which was built on it.  Witness the thousands of dead cities and barren lands where civilization first arose in the Near East.

At Meadowcreek we focus not on conquering but on working with Nature.  All natural systems afford consistent and recurring opportunities for symbiosis, or mutualism. In order to manage a common threat, many systems of nature can and have become willing accomplices. They will always join with us in goals which also help them achieve their goals of reproducing, growing and maturing—e.g., fulfilling the adaptive cycle. We can unite with other species to create more productive, more resilient systems. When we enlist other systems, their resilience become ours, just as ours become theirs.

The basic problem with monotheistic religions and the cities which generated them is the focus on man as separate from nature.  Until they see man as a part of nature, they will continue to destroy.  Pagan originally meant country person.  The country people were the last to accept the monotheistic focus on man as the be all and end all.  Some never have.

One basic belief of many religions is that “the wages of sin is death”:  all was fine until sin entered the world and brought death with it.   In ecological systems, death is required.  All organisms are food for other organisms.  Man-based religions deal with this fact by trying to separate man and nature.  They construct theologies totally inconsistent with ecological reality.  They remove man from nature.

In nature, plants aren’t bad or good.  They all fit into certain situations very well.  We just have to use them where they fit and discourage them where they don’t.  We see plants as evil which poison us or barb us.  But sometimes such poisons and barbs are necessary when man and other animals are too plentiful and destroying the ecosystem. (If you want to see the extremes plants can go to to hurt and poison man and other large animals, see this link: http://www.cracked.com/article_23158_the-spiky-fern-that-eats-sheep-5-evil-plants.html

Identifying enemies or “the Enemy” and blaming them for what goes wrong will not lead to resilient systems.  Only understanding your opponents and the foundations for their behavior will enable you to put them to good use.

Ironic that religionists which say all is one and everything is of God failed for so long to see how the deep connections which undergird all life and which they are destroying.

“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Such emergent qualities underlie all Nature.  When will the man-focused religions begin to focus more on the God–the great “I am” of which everything is composed and which they profess to believe in?

 

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For more on working with nature (ecological integration) see Chapter 5 of our free online book at this link.

 

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