Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer: The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch Bartholomew I Kindle Edition
|Length: 408 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||
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Part of this concern stems from the recognition that the whole world is of God's creation, a creation that was declared good. 'The knowledge of the truth about creation, as well as of the purpose of the world and humanity, contributes to the correct response toward the ecological problem. The Church reveals the truth, and in this way contributes toward the solution of every problem, including the environmental one.' The proper way of addressing environmental issues, according to Patriarch Bartholomew, involves theological, ethical and practical considerations.
The theological issues are fundamental. The Patriarch said, 'The classical thinkers of the Orthodox Church, such as the Cappodocian Fathers, never ignored the fundamentally Eucharistic dimension of creation, which is returned to God in an act of thanksgiving and glorification.' From the story of creation to the book of the Revelation to John, there are indications of the responsibility we as humanity bear for tending the earth. Patriarch Bartholomew introduces interpretations of scripture rather different from many typically Western views; for example, he sees the book of Revelation not as an apocalyptic vision of destruction, but rather draws upon the Greek meaning of the word apokalypsis as 'unveiling', showing that this work unveils possibilities for 'a new heaven and new earth, for a better environment and world to leave to future generations.'
Human responsibility is at the heart of this. 'The root of the problems of hunger and poverty is human lifestyle, not the insufficiency of material goods to support human needs.' While we cannot stop every hurricane, tsunami and volcano, we can share our resources rightly and responsibly in ways that recognise and promote the dignity of all people.
Patriarch Bartholomew calls upon people to deal with each other and with the world in a spirit of humility and deference. Bartholomew himself is very deferential - recognising he is part of a world larger and older than himself, and also part of a church structure with an unbroken chain of tradition extending back thousands of years and forward into an uncharted future, he is always looking toward others in all directions for signs, guidance and inspiration. 'Patriarch Bartholomew considers his prayer for and protection of the environment as an obligation, not as a way of submitting to contemporary fashions or political statements.'
Fr. John Chryssavgis, in his introductory essay, relates the Orthodox vision of theology and the environment to iconography in important ways. 'The icon restores; it reconciles.' He also explores the liturgy, the work of the people both inside formal worship structures as well as beyond this in the world. 'By liturgical, I do not imply ritual. I mean movement, dynamism and creativity.' Chryssavgis also looks in more depth at the Eucharistic element, that the world and our relationship to it reflects our relationship with each other and with God.
This collection of texts includes encyclical letters, annual addresses and statements, as well as interviews and short commentary by Patriarch Bartholomew I. Chryssavgis admits that some of the language sounds 'ecclesiastical' and a bit more ponderous than Western readers on ecological issues may be accustomed to, but there is a richness in the depth of the statements that makes reading through these texts worthwhile. There are insights for those who are outside the Orthodox Church, or even outside of the broader Christian culture - Patriarch Bartholomew has been recognised by governments and international organisations as a world leader in ecological matters.
Echoing William Blake, he sees that all that lives is holy; drawing on Gregory Palamas, he has a deep sense of the interconnectedness, the community aspect of humanity. Drawing from the Desert Fathers, he recognises that prayer and simple stewardship are valuable practices with regard to the earth and all creation.
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