Monday, June 28, 2010

We belong to mother earth

"The man whom God has created in his image, that is in freedom, is the man who is formed out of earth. Darwin and Feuerbach themselves could not speak any more strongly. Man's origin is in a piece of earth. His bond with the earth belongs to his essential being. The 'earth is his mother'; he comes out of her womb. Of course, the ground from which man is taken is still not the cursed but the blessed ground. It is God's earth out of which man is taken. From it he has his body. His body belongs to his essential being. Man's body is not his prison, his shell, his exterior, but man himself. Man does not 'have' a body; he does not 'have' a soul; rather he 'is' body and soul. Man in the beginning is really his body. He is one. [...] The man who renounces his body renounces his existence before God the Creator. The essential point of human existence is its bond with mother earth, its being as body. Man has his existence as existence on earth; he does not come to the earthly world from above, driven and enslaved by a cruel fate. He comes out of the earth in which he slept and was dead; he is called out by the Word of God the Almighty, in himself a piece of earth, but earth called into human being by God. 'Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall sine upon thee.' (Ephesians 5.14)"

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Temptation
(trans. John C. Fletcher; London: SCM, 1966 [1932-33]), 45.

We belong to the earth. From dust we came and to dust we shall return. Only the body can save the soul. And we believe in the resurrection of the body.

But if our origin is earthy and our destiny is bodily, how then can our allegiance be to heaven? Because heaven is not our destination; it is the source of our hope. The wounded earth does not contain the origin of its own healing. It requires heavenly aid. Let me say this again: we are not aiming to get into heaven, but to have heaven get into us, for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.


stef said...

Amen to that. The book "Surprised by Hope" by NT Wright has a lot to say about how we understand the future joining of heaven and earth and how our eschatology shapes so much of how we act now. Well worth the read if you haven't already for a critique on the commonly held view of "heaven".

byron smith said...

Yes indeed, a very good book. I'll probably post a few quotes from it at some stage.

Alex said...

Hey Byron, I know you wrote this post 2 years ago, but I was thinking of it today when I listened to this conversation between Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson:

The whole things is great, but see especially 27:30 onwards...


byron smith said...

Thanks Alex, an interesting discussion.

I like both Berry and Jackson, and think that certain kinds of re-localisation are critical. Yet rural romanticism is simply not possible for seven, eight, nine billion. We need re-visions for urban life as well (new urbanism is one form, which is also a form of re-localisation in an urban context).