The Bishop of Utah: Reclaiming the Green Vocation

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I find it interesting to reflect on what it was in the experience of their human authors, inspired as they may have been, to describe the beginnings as they do. The author of the above text appears to be aware that a vocation was given to him along with life. God dignified him with a calling to "till and keep" the garden, and gave him the competence to do so—since human beings are the only creatures who can learn skills and see to the consequences of what they do.

In my reading of this story, that first human creature is now everyman, the 'green' vocation is universal, and the garden is God's precious earth. It is a vocation we must all reclaim—in whatever way and place that is given us to do.

In one of our Eucharistic prayers we speak of "this fragile earth, our island home." In many respects it is fragile, but it is also resilient if not endlessly forgiving; we now know more about all its creatures and ecosystems than any generation before us; and we understand the interdependence of all life and all the conditions of life. Still, time is not on our side.

I have often heard theologians say that all creation "fell" when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree that was forbidden them. That seems to me an utterly simplistic and useless understanding of what has happened, and lets modern generations off much too easily. More truthfully, it is the vast technologies of the industrial revolution that have enabled and magnified our ongoing abuse of earth and her intricate systems of interdependence

It is late Lent, but it is still time for repentance and amendment of life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* Theology

10 Comments
Posted March 26, 2008 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Chris Hathaway wrote:

I have often heard theologians say that all creation “fell” when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree that was forbidden them. That seems to me an utterly simplistic and useless understanding of what has happened

We have here a fundamental disagreement of what constitutes simplistic and useless.

A fundamentally different religion is being proclaimed by this pretender to apostolic order and faith. Her lack of Christian baptism is aptly mirrored by her lack of belief in even the most basic of Christian doctrines.

What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, or Salt Lake City, or Sodom? How long must our dance of disfellowship go on. God’s wedding dance is a waltz and we keep finding ourselves paired with these beatnics trying to do the Twist.

March 26, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
2. Daniel wrote:

“it is the vast technologies of the industrial revolution that have enabled and magnified our ongoing abuse of earth and her intricate systems of interdependence”

Bishop of Luddite is more like it.

March 26, 11:32 pm | [comment link]
3. evan miller wrote:

Trendy hogwash.

March 27, 9:27 am | [comment link]
4. TWilson wrote:

The author bemoans “vast technologies of the industrial revolution.” For a moment, I thought she was simply going to bemoan technology, but the she takes a small but actually helpful step: she calls for repentence and amendment of life.  In other words, recognize something as evil, and change behavior (instead of just getting in a twist about a concept). What she fails to do utterly (and predictably) is to provide any detail about what to change. Do we stop the inhumane practices of advanced agriculture that feed more people using less land?  Scalable manufacturing that creates goods using less time (ie, labor) and for lower marginal cost? Internal combustion-based transportation? Railroads?

What makes tripe such as this even more morally reprehensible is that those who would suffer most from implementing any possible scenario crafted by the author are the poor (everywhere and always the first victims of rising prices), those in developing nations, those who have their lives extended or made possible by technology.  The author is not of those classes - she has a position of some status, studied at prestigious universities, and lives in a place of great physical beauty. She also serves as chairman of the company her father started - a company that serves clients whose very businesses depend on the technologies she decries: Warner-Lambert (pharmaceuticals), El Paso Corporation (natural gas pipelines, distribution), Xcel Energy (electricity, natural gas), ( FedEx (shipping, retail), Pepsi (food and beverage).

Instead of engaging in such billious hypocrisy, the author should thank God the world does not function as she would have it.

March 27, 9:41 am | [comment link]
5. Stuart Smith wrote:

Notice the “green” use of Eucharistic Prayer ‘C’:  “...this fragile earth, our island home”.  Once again, the imprudence of adopting a “common” prayer book which has theologies all over the map…from Rite I to Rite 2C…Rite 3…becomes clear!  Our current PB is a product of a formation process which de-emphasizes the biblical revelation and the Faith inherited through the Cranmerian emphasis in our prayer books, while promoting a theology of almost pagan reverence for creation.  Need we wonder why TEC is where it is today?

March 27, 12:33 pm | [comment link]
6. nwlayman wrote:

Beat the dead horse:  What would you expect the Bishop of Utah to say in Lent?  Emphasize that the historical root of the season is preparation for….baptism?

March 27, 2:22 pm | [comment link]
7. Stefano wrote:

Shame on you, Kendall for picking on a weakling! Instead of a private rebuke and corrective reproof you ungraciously expose the intellectual insufficiency of a fellow cleric for public scorn and ridicule. After all not everyone can handle those hard science courses with all that math, so expecting bishops to understand is quite unrealistic.

March 27, 2:32 pm | [comment link]
8. libraryjim wrote:

Um, Bishop, it’s not just theologians but the Bible itself that speaks of creation’s fall and redemption through the blood of Jesus the Christ:


“The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt.” (Isaiah 24)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:18-23).

March 27, 3:36 pm | [comment link]
9. Larry Morse wrote:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

  Jim, what does this mean? I cannot make sense of it. Larry

March 28, 12:38 am | [comment link]
10. libraryjim wrote:

It means when Adam and Eve fell (on behalf of the Human Race), creation was altered as well, or became fallen.

In Christ, all things are being reconcilled to God through his blood, or as Paul puts it:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

March 28, 1:41 pm | [comment link]
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