Monday, April 22, 2013

stewards of the earth

How long shall the land mourn, and the herb of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? The beasts and the birds are consumed: because they have said: He shall not see our last end. — Jeremias xii.4.
There are several biblical passages, that when taken together, outline and define the concept of stewardship over the earth. Now, a steward is not the owner, he is the manager of the possessor. This comes in the first chapter, of the first book, at the end of the account of creation:
And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. — Genesis i. 26.
'Dominion' is the word that is often, purposely, misused. It means 'ownership' in Latin, but it is translated not from that word but from 'praesit', which is a third person form of 'praesum', which means to take charge, or be present. No, man is not the owner. And not a single man. Here man is a collective (and gender common) subject. All men, all humanity, is to take charge in caring for God's creation of the earth, and all things of the earth.
And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise for pleasure, to dress it, and keep it.  — Genesis ii. 15.
Now, greedy, avaricious, manipulative individuals wish to seize possession of the earth, and its abundance, and use it for selfish means. This is contrary to all legitimate Jewish and Christian understanding. People that claim to be of high religiosity and do not care for God's creation are deficient in the practice of faith. Hypocrisy is strong in this world.
Dómini est terra, et plenitúdo ejus ; orbis terrárum, et univérsi qui hábitant in eo.
The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein. — Psalm xxiii. 1.
The understanding within Catholicism is represented in the recent Catechism under these two numbers thusly:
2402 —  In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.
2415 — The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.
Capitalists, and others who claim themselves as dominionists are contrary to respected religious, and the general, moral order. Those that deny that man is ruining the biosphere are fools, or more often, and accurately, selfish liars. Climate change as the result of the activity of man is not only logically possible, but climate change as an hoax is absurd. Those that only believe in private ownership are lying for self interest. The anti-Earth Day crowd are such people. Some create the red herrings of pagan celebration, and world wide conspiracy of communism, or one world government are the same, or in league with the greedy, or are their stupid and foolish tools. The conspiracy believers have let irrational paranoia overtake them. The claim that there are people who are irreligious, or pagan earth worshippers are non sequiturs at best. One does not have to have a religious belief system to have a moral sense of shared human respect and responsibility for the world; and people with alternative, and even strange, religious belief may still share the common moral humanity of religious believers. We are one people of one earth (that God created).

Allied ideas alongside of respectful stewardship are love, charity, and justice. These together are in harmony. The physical world, and the moral world are related and comparable to body and soul.
This was on a plaque dedicated to a docent at the Cleveland Zoo. Note the errant placement of the 'h'.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way its animals are treated. This has been attributed to Mohandas Gandhi. Well, it sounds like something he would say, anyway; yet i have not seen when he did. There are other such cases when certain words have been attached to famous persons. Some things are of the same spirit (of course, sometimes some things are falsely created as manipulative propaganda that mimics a view and not the integral spirit, and here subjectivity lies). 
  map at Cleveland Zoo's  Rain Forest Building showing deforestation of tropic woodlands.

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