Ecocentricity Blog: My Calling
Though Ray Anderson is John Lanier's greatest inspiration as an environmentalist, it is John's faith that fundamentally motivates him to care for the earth.
I completely forgot about a birthday two weeks ago, and I’m just now realizing it. Fortunately, it wasn’t my wife’s birthday or one of my children’s, so yours truly remains blissfully outside of the doghouse. A hearty pat on my own back for not being a terrible husband or father.The birthday I missed was that of this blog.
My first Ecocentricity post was on April 10, 2014, and in these short six years I’ve written 219 entries. I’ve covered a lot, ranging from the importance of African elephants in savannah ecosystems to the impact of food waste on climate change to emerging utility-scale electricity storage technologies. In that time though, there’s one environmental topic I haven’t covered, and it carries a lot of personal meaning. I have finally decided to write about it. That topic is creation care.
Simply put, creation care is the motivation that certain people of faith have for being environmental stewards. Many people believe in a creator god who gave existence and order to the universe, and who created life here on Earth. In different faith traditions around the globe, that life is treated as precious in the eyes of the creator god. Many feel obliged to show care and concern for the environment because of the teachings of their faith traditions and out of love for that creator god. I am one of those people.
With a Roman Catholic father and Presbyterian mother, I experienced a couple of flavors of Christianity as a child, and I am still a practicing Catholic today. My experience with the Christian faith was deeply formative for me, instilling in me many of the values I hold most dear. I even strongly considered becoming a priest for several years before meeting my wife and realizing my vocation was to the married life and parenthood.
Though Ray Anderson is my greatest inspiration as an environmentalist, it is my faith that fundamentally motivates me to care for the earth. I experience the divine in nature, and I see clearly how working to heal the planet simultaneously serves my God and my neighbor. It is deeply rewarding work that fulfills me on a spiritual level. Further, I find myself to be a kindred spirit to people of other faith traditions who practice creation care, whether Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindi, or otherwise. I treasure how environmentalism can bring us all together in a common cause of faith. I also treasure that it unites me to those who care for nature even without belief in a creator god.
But why am I sharing all of this now? Six years into this blog, and only now do I share my deepest and most profound motivation for the work that I do? Well, it’s because in these troubled times, with the COVID-19 virus rattling the societal structures we’ve established the world over, I find that it is also my faith that is fundamentally motivating me to passionately care about this pandemic.
As a Christian, I am called to love my God with all that I am and to love others as myself. Though others respond to that same calling differently, I believe that I am fulfilling it when I eat a vegetarian diet, sort our recycling at home, and financially support environmental charities. I believe that I fulfill the exact same calling when I practice social distancing, wear a mask when I have to go out in public, and support charitable causes that are responding to COVID-19. It’s just a different expression of my faith, and I believe that many of you reading can relate to this common motivation.
And so I want to take these next few weeks to explore more deeply how creation care and the COVID-19 pandemic are connected. I think there is much more than meets the eye, and perhaps a lesson or two that can be learned as we simultaneously work to solve a global pandemic and our many environmental challenges.
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