Relearning the sacred

“The church’s contribution has to consist… in its showing forth of a different myth – the truth of creation’s relation with the Creator and especially the role of human work and thought within that. This is what is exhibited every time the Eucharist is celebrated”

Rowan Williams

Such is the cultural emphasis on rationality that I grew up with, that I have often viewed the idea of venerating the earth and its creatures, or our own ancestors, with suspicion. I have dismissed it as mere superstition at best, and as a form of idolatry at worst.

However, in considering the commodification of ‘resources’, ‘ecosystem services’, ‘nature-based solutions’ recently, I have come to wonder at the peculiarity of the desacralisation of the world around us.

I have also come to wonder at the emptiness of a Christian ‘creation care’, where care for creation means ‘having a non-political (like there is such a thing) awareness of creation’s importance’.

Deeming something to be sacred is to set it apart, understanding its relationship to the divine and ascribing worth accordingly. We do not treat wider creation as worthy, it is only useful.

This is a political, value-laden decision. What we do or do not commodify is a moral choice. We do not allow the sale of people in the UK, but we do allow the sale of ecosystems.

I am suspicious of a ‘creation care’ which cannot define ‘creation abuse’. I am suspicious of an ethics which defines morality around the permissions of the status quo.

What would it mean to de-commodify creation and regard its independent relationship with the Creator as sacred? To define and limit the parameters of our own relationship with wider creation?

The sacraments are ceremonies or rituals we regard as imparting divine grace. The myth the church shows forth is of the Creator’s relationship with creation. The Spirit of God is present in creation and is to be treated with reverence. The identities of the Creator and creation are distinct, and at the same time, God abides here.

To relearn the sacred is to be present with, and to cherish, the earth. It is to regard, as God does, the worthiness of creation.