#2: A contemporary heresy.

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***This is the second of a series of posts based on a book I’m reading for a class called Connections in Religious and Ecological Education entitled Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. The chapter is “The Orthodox Church and the Environmental Crisis” by Patriarch Bartholomew, known for his work promoting environmental awareness.

What is heresy, really?  Merriam-Webster states it is “a: dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice b: an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards.”  Seems to me that environmental degradation, by this definition, isn’t heresy, it’s orthodoxy.  What’s the dominant opinion or practice?  Certainly not to conserve, sustain, or care for the world in which we live.  The dominant voice, the Western voice in particular, chants “take, take, take” and “consume, consume, consume.”  Except, the etymology of “heresy” is from the Greek hairein, meaning “to take.”  It’s a complicated word, but it seems to me that His Holiness the Archbishop has a point, labeling our addiction to consumption at the expense of the well-being of the world of which we are a part as “heresy.”  Because whose is really the dominant opinion?  In the world of the Kingdom, it’s not us.  It’s God.  We are the dissenters, the contrarians, the refusers.  We are the takers.  God is the giver and maker, the dominant voice to which we are no longer listening.  The Patriarch calls our current way of life suicidal and speaks of this self-harm as being directly in opposition to the will of the Creator, who made us as an integral part of the natural order.  When we kill that order, we kill ourselves.  God called the world, in the beginning, “good.”  If we destroy it, are we not, then heretics after all?

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