Christians are taught that they exist temporarily in this earthly world in preparation for the everlasting world of heaven. Traditionally, they have been taught to focus more on faith and spirituality in their journey towards everlasting life, with the result that the earthly world tends to be forgotten and overlooked.
In his sixth book, The Cosmic Circle: Jesus & Ecology, Dr Edward P Echlin looks at the importance of the earthly world to Christians. Rather than being a transient place where people exist before passing to the next life, he says people should cherish the earth and use their time here to further worship God. He maintains that Jesus, the earth and God are linked and to praise the earth is to praise and worship God. Spirituality should be centred, he maintains, in the earth and the earth community.
In The Cosmic Circle, Dr Echlin points out God's unwavering love for this earth. Apart from creating the earth, God choose to become part of it as 'flesh and blood' through his son Jesus. His love for this world is also apparent in Jesus' teaching during his time here on earth where he used the inclusion of the earth in his ministry, miracles and teaching.
Dr Echlin then goes on to look at how the earth is affected by what people do and fail to do. In disrespecting the earth and allowing its continued destruction people disrespect God and his love for them. He refers to campaigner Sara Parkin and others and 'how we are the first species to monitor minutely our own extinction' and how, despite acknowledging this, we continue to do so.
Throughout the book Dr Echlin calls for the spirituality of the earth to be recognised and the importance of loving the earth as an act of faith and worship of God. He maintains that recognising the importance of the earth to God and to the worship of God is fundamental to the future survival of the earth.
Echlin is the author of Earth Spirituality, Jesus at the Centre and regularly contributes to numerous journals and periodicals. An ecological theologian he relates Jesus Christ to the earth and the 'earth community'. He chairs Catholic Concern for Animals and is Honorary Research Fellow in Theology, University College of Trinity & All Saints, Leeds. Based in East Sussex he writes and lectures in ecological theology, grows organic fruit and vegetables, with a special interest in local fruit varieties, and appreciates the earth community. He is a member of HDRA (the National Organic Gardening Organisation), the Soil Association, Christian Ecology Link, and other environmental NGOs.
The Cosmic Circle: Jesus & Ecology by Edward P. Echlin is published by The Columba Press and is priced at ¤8.99/£5.99. The book is available in bookshops or from www.columba.ie.
First posted DUBLIN - 23 July 2004 - 474 words