Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cultivating a concern for nature/creation: Daily awe not daily aww

You care about what you think about and value. So if we want to care about nature, or from a theological viewpoint, the creation, we should cultivate an interest in it and admiration of it. I call this daily awe. Of course this awe isn't of nature in of itself only, but insofar as it points to the God who created it. I find Psalm 104 helpful in this regard - God is a God of biodiversity, who creates many different habitats for the sake of their inhabitants, and not just for human economic needs (though not less than that in some times and places).

So the daily awe is to see God's creativity in things - be it watering the earth for all creatures, including humans, or caring for lions who can be down right dangerous for humans and their livestock. But note too this therefore isn't the daily awww as in the exclamation we make when we see something 'cute'. There are many things in nature that appear savage but yet have their own aesthetic appeal. Notwithstanding some anthropomophizing of some behaviour, only humans are cruel. Hence our awe will include predation, things not considered cute by all such as various invertebrates on which life depends (I mean creepy crawlies).

So how do we cultivate daily awe?
  1. By direct experience. Look at the insects or birds around you (or if you're very lucky, mammals). Take a walk on the beach looking for shells; look at the seeds or leaves that fall to the ground and study their smell, textures and colours.
  2. Organize a holiday based around nature such as ecotours.
  3. Have a regular diet of good documentaries. The ABC and BBC do a good job. A lot of Animal Planet material is sensationalist rubbish.
  4. The web is full of amazing pictures. I 'like' a number of Facebook pages with some wonderful daily images.
  5. Read good books on natural history. In a day of cultural ADHD forced by social media, being able to sustain reflection on a topic is a virtue if not a necessity. These books should vary from celebrations of what is to reflections on what we are losing and why - but never read just one either you'll lose sight of what we value in despair or live in a fantasy where Eden still exists everywhere.

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