Thursday, July 17, 2008

Green Orthodoxy

Some brief thoughts on creation and environmental ethics from the Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, a Greek Orthodox theologian who teaches at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and serves as a theological advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch (a.k.a. the "Green Patriarch"):

"What the Orthodox icon does in space and matter, the Christian Orthodox liturgy effects in praise and time: namely the same ministry of reconciliation, the anticipation and participation of heaven on earth. If we are guilty of relentless waste, it is perhaps because we have lost the spirit of worship. We are no longer respectful pilgrims on this earth; we have been reduced to mere tourists..."

"The truth is that we respond to nature with the same delicacy, the very same sensitivity, and exactly the same tenderness with which we respond to any human person in a relationship. We have learned not to treat people like things; we must now learn not to treat even things like mere things. All of our ecological activities are measured ultimately by their effect on people, especially upon the poor. And all of our spiritual activities are judged by their impact on our world, especially upon the environment..."

"Humanity, we now know, is less than humanity without the rest of creation. We may go further than this and declare that this world too is much more than a mere reflection or revelation of heaven; it is a fulfillment and completion of heaven. Heaven is less than heaven without this world. The earthly liturgy is not merely a con-celebration, but a completion of the rest of the heavenly dance. Just as we are incomplete without the rest of material and animal creation, so too the kingdom of God remains -- daring and scandalous as it may seem -- incomplete without the world around us. Not because of some inner or innate beauty and sacredness in the created world; but simply because that is how God chose to share the divine beauty and sacredness. How could we ever thank God enough for such a gift?"

John Chryssavgis, Light Through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition (Orbis, 2004)


Joe Rawls said...

Thanks a lot for this great reference. The patriarchal website has a subsection devoted to ecological issues. I think the Orthodox might be a step or two ahead of us Frankish Christians when it comes to integrating theology and ecology.

Bryan Owen said...

Joe, thanks not only for the comment, but also for the piece on the Green Patriarch on your blog. I suspect that you may be right about the Orthodox being "a step or two ahead of us" on these issues. And they do it in ways that don't jettison the theology of the Creed and Councils.