Category: The Politics of Scripture

How does one turn away from a Lenten desert, so profoundly illustrated in the wastelands of plastic filled beaches, and walk towards the resurrection hope of Easter? Perhaps by remembering that Easter is coming, but its only the middle of the story.

This biblical text—the “trial” and execution of Jesus—is a text that we who are Christians know so well we may be tempted to skim it. In the same way, we think we know and understand climate change—enough that we can skim the science.

We are a people once asleep, now waking to a new world, where our forms of life have done irreparable harm to our earth and helped to unleash a deadly pathogen on ourselves. We must ask, how will these bones live?

We need to recognize that whether we like it or not, the global community is in this crisis together. Our survival depends on learning to share the abundance we have—our natural and financial resources, as well as scientific expertise and creativity—in the fight to combat climate change.

Humans have grown exponentially in our propensity and power to conquer the earth itself. Despite being newcomers relative to neighboring species, humans usually behave as if we owned the place. But Psalm 95 speaks clearly: When we come into God’s presence—and there is no place God is more vividly present to us than in creation’s midst—the psalm says to come with thanksgiving, the polar opposite of greed.

An intertextual reading of Genesis 12 and Psalm 121 demonstrates that, while our faithful relationship with God may be initiated by our willful act of leaving, our ongoing life journey can be sustained by our attention to nature’s ontological testimony of God’s unequal sovereignty. Just as the Hebrew pilgrims were given strength to live out their faith through ecological awareness and mindfulness, let us emulate this life of pilgrimage and boldly leave our anthropocentric lifestyles.

Humans may very well not survive to the end of the century, but in faithfulness to the Creator, between fasting and serving the Garden, hope is alive. The liturgical season of Lent is such a time.

During the Christian, liturgical season of Lent, essays on the Politics of Scripture will reflect on the intersection between the lectionary texts and climate change.

Our political theology is strengthened by trusting that the words of the Son of Man are a fleshly restatement of what is divinely just and good and holy and lovely. Because Christ has come and his presence is with us, God’s words are even more accessible to us.

The weighty and earnest words of Deuteronomy ring out with welcome clarity in a time of partisan wrangling and division. God cuts to the chase, gets right to the bottom line, and calls out what is important—an invitation to a covenant for the common good.

Embodying the best of the prophetic tradition, the text encourages us to consider that religion, in fact, does have functions: liberation, feeding the hungry, inviting vulnerable strangers into our homes, and undoing injustice.

The prophets serve as God’s messengers, both as conduit of information between people, as well as serving as forerunners, preparing the way for God’s will to occur in the world.