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Nature in harmony with faith: The Globe’s monthly panel discusses spiritual perspectives on the environment (Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail)
Nature in harmony with faith: The Globe’s monthly panel discusses spiritual perspectives on the environment (Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail)

FAITH EXCHANGE

Nature in harmony with faith Add to ...

Guy Nicholson: It would be a positive development for everyone who’s here now, paying for water we used to find in abundance, fighting over how best to use the world’s dwindling wilderness, choking in pollution our ecosystem struggles to absorb. Who wants to abolish humanity? I’d like to see it sustained.

Lorna Dueck: What I think you’ve put your finger on is the great need we have in our faith communities to do more practical action into the environment, economy and community. We need to challenge ourselves in actual deeds, so demand on our limited supply is put into an awareness for community and environment. That means radical new ways of doing shared transportation and consumption habits. For instance, I could imagine notes in the weekly church bulletin (which would be electronic only, not on paper) about unplugging, turning equipment off, and recycling. We can do much more to address the human demand for disposable energy supply.

Peter Stockland: This, Guy, is why you need to listen to your mother-in-law. Seriously, these are technical issues that can be solved over time by opposable-digited bright lights like us. What will prohibit any solution is giving in to the mentality that humanity is the source of the problem. If we believe that only “those who are here now” are entitled to enjoy God’s creation, we head off the demographic cliff. All God’s children gotta live!

Sheema Khan: I still stand by my earlier statement. It’s not the quantity of people; it’s our behaviour toward each other, and the environment, that needs to change. Lowering the numbers is not really going to change much, if we don’t stop behaving in such wasteful, often disingenuous ways.

Guy Nicholson: Is there a conflict, especially in monotheistic religions, between worshipping nature and worshipping a god?

Lorna Dueck: Yes, absolutely. I worship the Creator – not God’s creation, God’s evolutionary process or God’s majestic galaxies. But all of those are triggers to a sense of reverence and awe that leads to the worship of God.

Peter Stockland: There is no conflict in Christianity. We don’t worship nature. Pagans and pantheists worship nature, which they are perfectly entitled to do in a free country. We don’t. We worship one God.

Sheema Khan: Great question. We have in the Koran the story of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), who, as a child, saw the beauty of the stars one evening. He was so inspired by the grandeur that he exclaimed he would worship them – revere them, bow in humility etc. However, when the stars set, he realized he could not worship an entity that seemed transient. He then saw the moon, which was even more wondrous than the stars, and vowed to worship the moon. But it, too, set. He then saw the sun, which was even more glorious than the stars or the moon, and vowed to worship the sun. It then set, too. He then realized that his longing for worship would be fulfilled by the One who created the stars, the moon and the sun and ordered their movements.

Worshipping nature, in and of itself, is worship of creation. Instead, we are encouraged to worship the Creator, and respect the creation.

George Stanley: The aboriginal people of this Turtle Island, we pray to the Creator, today we still are so connected to Mother Nature, and the animals the Creator has provided for us. We practise medicine, but we still rely on natural herbs. Our herbal medicines are still real and we take those seriously because that is what heals us today. Aboriginal people fast with their ceremonies for a number of reasons – they believe the connection to the Creator’s gifts are a way forward for us.

I believe that maintaining our spirituality is the only way forward for our people of this Turtle Island. And I believe that, as we understand and are on the same page, we could answer the questions with our spirit and intent. I am observing that many activities in Alberta are also showing that we need to monitor Mother Nature and its gifts. Just recently, the highest court in Canada recognized our hunting rights. And I believe we want to preserve as much of the species as possible.

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