#5: Fire and brimstone, power and light.

***This is the fifth 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 Community of Creation,” by Reverend Sally Bingham, founder of the Regeneration Project.

lake-of-fire

It’s not a stretch for me to understand the planet on which we live as one, big, pulsing living organism, a Being encompassing each and every element, species, biosphere, space, each in intricate and perfect relationship to the other.  What is the world, if not alive?  Sally Bingham talks about it as being community, unity-with.  We talk a lot about community in the world of the church, what it is, what it should be, what we long for it to become.  Paul talked about the Body of Christ, how each of us has our own function in relationship to the other parts, the hand unable to do what the eye does but relying on it in some mysterious way in order to fulfill its own role.  He talks about how if we were all hands, or all eyes for that matter, we would be incomplete.  So, too, with community.  So, too, with creation.  As we proceed to destroy this planet on which we live, we’re creating more and more a world of monotony, destroying diversity.  Doing this, the sacred balance, the holy interdependence is disappearing.  The more it eeks away, the less able we are to function as a whole.  Bingham talks about how with Interfaith Power and Light, she has preached and taught across the country, that her sermons are “fire-and-brimstone” harangues, calling people of faith on the carpet for the uni-dimensional commitment they have to salvation.  Are we saving ourselves when we cut off our hands and feet, when we pluck out our eyes?  How is this different from cutting ourselves, slowly but ever more surely, out of the whole Being of creation, upon which we depend and within which we were created?  Sermons about destruction are, in my experience, usually future-oriented Revelation-style admonitions about how if we don’t change our behaviors “God’s gonna get us.”   While I tend to cringe at these, rarely finding the good news there, I’m beginning to think that we’ve got to be open to preaching fire-and-brimstone in the face of planetary destruction, a direct slap in the face of God and a result of our own bad choices, intentional and negligent.  Is that not sin?  Should we not fear retribution?  Maybe I’m becoming a fire-and-brimstone preacher.  Maybe we all ought to be.

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