EARTHSPIRIT WEEDINGTHE EARTH
by GENE EDWARD VEITH
SCP Newsletter, AUTUMN 1998, Volume 22:3



A good gardener "weeds and thins his seedlings to allow the proper amount of room for the plants to grow properly," observes theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether. "We need to seek the most compassionate way of weeding out people."

"Our current pro-life movement is really killing people through disease and poverty," she continues. Instead of a pro-life movement, says this Catholic feminist, we need to develop a "spirituality of recycling, a spirituality that includes ourselves in the renewal of earth and self. We need to compost ourselves."

Ruether was addressing a gathering called "EarthSpirit Rising: A Midwest Conference on Healing and Celebrating Planet Earth." The conference in Cincinnatti attracted some 400 participants, who were treated to neopagan earth rituals, presentations by shamans and sorcerers, and explicit attacks on Christianity for violating the tenets of "eco-spirituality." Astonishingly, the gathering was sponsored by over 30 religious orders and institutions of the Catholic church.

Just as liberal protestants have their Re-imaging Conferences, in which the Trinity is condemned for being too patriarchal and the Atonement dismissed as a case of child abuse, liberal Catholics have "EarthSpirit Rising."

What is significant is how the old liberalism, grounded in secular humanism, is giving way to a new liberalism, which is increasingly anti-human.

As reported by conservative Catholic Michael S. Rose in The St. Catherine Review, Ruether, introduced as "one of the greatest theologians ever," blamed Christianity for our environmental and social woes. Traditional Christianity makes "elite male humans" think they have the right to dominate women, the earth, and other creatures. This might be because "Christians believe that they are sojourners on their way to Heaven." This is due to a misunderstanding of the Incarnation. "The cosmos is the real incarnation," she explained.

To develop a "healing culture," she said, we must draw not on the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is the primary source of domination and subjugation, but on the Eastern religions of Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, which teach "compassion for all sentient beings." We must realize that "nature does not need us to rule over it. We are parasites, utterly dependent upon the rest of the food chain. Nature would be much better off without us."

What emerged in EarthRising was a new theology--actually a new religion--centered in ecology, animal rights, and feminism, all grounded in a New Age, neopagan metaphysics.

Mr. Rose quoted other speakers, including protestant pastor Mendel Adams. Instead of building a place of worship, his congregation has turned its property into nature trails. "Christianity is so arrogant," he complained. Christians believe that "even if there are other religions and we have a few to prove it, we are the best! Likewise, Christians seem to assert that even if there are other creatures on this earth, man is the best."

Throughout most of the 20th century, secularists have put their trust in humanism. Man was to be the measure of all things. Science, grounded in what human beings could observe, was the ground of all accepted knowledge. What brought about the fulfillment of human beings and the progress of their society was the ground of all accepted morality. The very concept of a transcendent God was rejected in favor of a deified Man.

But now look what has happened. The deified "Man" is dismissed as sexist, and human beings are considered morally inferior to animals. Science is attacked as a violation of Mother Earth, and reason is replaced by nature mysticism. When God is left out of the equation, there is no longer a basis for saying that human beings have any particular value in themselves. Man as the measure of all things turns out to be a pretty miserable yardstick.

Humanism has failed. In fact, it has mutated into its opposite. We have moved into an age of secular anti-humanism, in which human life, far from meaning everything, now means nothing.

Humanism started by rejecting the notion that Man was made in God's image and affirming the dogmas of evolution. It could not escape the conclusion that Man is therefore just another animal, having no rights that could not just as easily be ascribed to other species.

The Biblical worldview, on the other hand, puts both human beings and nature in their place, as creations of a transcendent God. Far from providing a framework for oppression, Christianity has offered a framework for freedom. The nature worshipping pagans were the ones who enslaved women in orgiastic fertility cults, practiced eugenic infanticide, and sacrificed children and unwanted adults to the nature gods.

It is no accident that avant garde theologians such as Ruether and avant garde ethicists such as Peter Singer (see WORLD, m/d/y) are becoming more and more explicitly pro-death. Abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, and other "compassionate ways of weeding out people" are held up as the highest moral principles, as tenets of what is actually an emerging religious faith.

The deified Man is replaced by a deified Nature. But Nature, as Tennyson pointed out, "is red in tooth and claw."

Dr. Gene Edward Veith is dean and Associate Professor of English at Concordia University, and is considered by Tal Brooke to be among the most gifted literary lights to come on the scene. The two are friends and allies. Dr. Veith is author of Postmodern Times which SCP continues to carry.

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