How Ecology Teaches Us What it Means to be Human

We are meditating on what it means to be human.  We are focusing on the dimension of cosmology and therefore ecology since, as Thomas Berry instructs us, “ecology is functional cosmology.”  Our earth home is the local ‘hood’ amidst are greater cosmic home.  To be human is to commit to acknowledging our earth home and cosmic home with gratitude.  If we fail to do that, we fall into a crazed loneliness and a subsequent soul-emptiness that can lead to violence to self and/or others. 

Mary Oliver reads her poem, “The Summer Day,” originally posted to the Beacon Press Youtube Channel.

Psychologist Otto Rank recognized that “when religion in the West lost the cosmos, society itself became neurotic and we had to invent psychology to deal with the neurosis.”  If Aquinas is right that “the greatness of the human persons consists in this, that we are capable of the universe,” but society does not invite us into our inherent relationship with the universe and the earth, then there are many deranged people on earth who have lost their sense of where they are and where they come from and ultimately who they are. 

The night sky of Slovenia. Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash.

Are we living at such a time? Do education and the media, politics and religion, law and economic systems take into account the earth?

That is the struggle we face today as entire political parties wallow in denial about climate change in order to make room for corporations and those who profit from them to become the de facto rulers of the earth as we know it.  If so, we are replaying the chilling teaching from the Doctrine of Discovery in the fifteenth century that equated the papacy with the governor of the universe and that laid the groundwork for enslavement of Africans to serve economic interests in the New World and also for the “Christian empires” of Portugal, Spain and eventually England to despoil and lay waste the lands of the Americas, the Pacific Islands, Asia and Australia. The Doctrine of Discovery is still on the books, neither the Vatican nor American jurisprudence has denounced it.

What does it mean to wake up to ecology, to learning to love our earth home with a deeper love and acknowledge how much we owe her and how deeply we need to adapt our ways to hers if we are to keep her healthy and fit so that future generations of beings can thrive in her midst? 

The meaning and mission of the Order of the Sacred Earth as explained by it’s Co-Founders.

One current effort is a movement called the Order of the Sacred Earth.  Begun by Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug and myself, here is how we spoke of it in our book on the subject. 

            We, Matthew Fox, a 76 year old elder, activist and spiritual theologian along with Skylar Wilson, a 33 year old wilderness guide, leader of inter-cultural ceremonies, and event producer, and Jennifer Listug, a 28 year old writer, and spiritual leader, are presenting a challenge and an opportunity in the vision we launch in this modest book. That vision is about an Order of the Sacred Earth.

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox,The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 21-24.

See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action, p.xiii.

Banner Image: Wet Mountain Valley in Canada. Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

How is the ecological emergency teaching you to be human? 

Is it calling forth your deepest love and passion and commitment to the future?

Recommended Reading

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

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