Part I - Hacking Global Warming
Climate Change is so huge that to detail exactly what it is, what is causing it, what role humans have in it, is just too tedious. Though it seems impossible, talking about God (who is infinitely bigger) is actually easier than talking about Climate Change. It is in talking about God that we participate in Global Warming...the good kind!
One of the key affirmations/assumptions of this blog post is that God is imminent in creation. The world is in God, God is connected to the world. As Sallie McFague in A New Climate for Theology states. "God and the world are not two separate realities that exist independently and must somehow find each other. Rather, the world is 'charged' with God as if with electricity" (pg 162).
Some people confuse this with pantheism, meaning that the world is God, instead of panentheism, which states that the world is in God, living like a fish submerged in water. This form of divine saturation is characterized helpfully by Peter Rollins who talks about God's hyper-presence: God is all around us and we are unable to truly comprehend because of our finitude and God's infinitude.
Then why don't we notice God? If you've ever blown a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker, you know that the circuit can handle electricity...just not too much of it. In the same way, God's presence short-circuits our minds and hearts to be unable to truly experience God.
The sun blinds those who look at it directly by overwhelming the visual apparatus...God's incoming overwhelms our intellectual and abstractual apparatus.Our circuits can handle a small amount of God's presence, but at times we notice God even incrementally more in the form of epiphanies or spiritual experiences. In short, God's presence is all around us, warming us, sustaining us, and yet as 1 Timothy 6:16 states, God dwells in inaccessible light.
Peter Rollins, How (not) to Speak of God, pp25
The effects of such a shift in perspective, of locating God not as "up there" "far away" or "inaccessible" is that we notice God everywhere. God is present in every area of the world. God is found in love and God is found in suffering; God is found in beauty and God is found in the shit; God is found upstream and downstream.
This isn't a new understanding as we hear these words of a Medieval mystic:
The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw--and knew I saw--all things in God and God in all things.Such a theological shift comes with warmth. When cells are warmed up, they move faster. When people are warm, we move easier. When our bodies emerge from hypothermia or a coma, they warm and reactivate as warm blood moves to the extremities. When we grow in our relationship with God, when we shift our perspective, warming happens because we know God is closer than ever before.
~Mechthild of Magdeburg (McFague, A New Climate, pp162)
This form of Global Warming is good as we start to notice what happens to our extremities and what role our actions play on the earth. We start to slowly awaken to the effects of our actions downstream. In short, we start to notice what our chilled hearts had not noticed before. And the realization is dawning slowly: that we humans have an awesome responsibility. We are growing in our relationship with God, even as iPods and brutal politics drive us apart (see part II). We are growing in our relationship with God because we are slowly realizing that we are responsible for the global health of this relationship.
Thus, as we have at other hinge points of human history, we face the same question that perhaps our grandparents did prior to WWII: who are we in the scheme of things? As McFague says in finality:
Once we see who we are in the scheme of things, we realize we must take care of the earth that is taking care of us.Realization of our role, emerging as it is, is our call to action today.
Sallie McFague, A New Climate, pp167
Part II coming up. Thoughts?