Monarchs on Zig Zag Lane at Turtle Rock Farm

In an essay about developing the virtue of earth-keeping, theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson proposes three responses we might make in a program of extending respect for life to all of creation. Today, the prophetic response:

The prophetic response moves us to action on behalf of justice for Earth. If the earth is indeed creation, a sacrament of the glory of God with its own intrinsic value, then for Christians ongoing destruction of earth bears the markers of deep sinfulness. Realizing this, we experience a moral imperative to act in favor of care, protection and restoration. Indeed, one stringent criterion must now measure the morality of our actions: whether or not these contribute to a sustainable earth community. A moral universe limited to the human community no longer serves the future of life.

If nature is the new poor, then the Christian mandate of option for the poor and oppressed now includes the natural world. If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, then the range of neighbors now includes the whale, the monarch butterfly, the local lake—the entire community of life. If the common good requires solidarity with all who suffer, then our compassion extends to suffering human beings and other species caught in patterns of extinction. ‘Save the rain forest’ becomes a concrete moral application of the commandment ‘Thou shall not kill.’

—Elizabeth A. Johnson
“God’s Beloved Creation”
Food & Faith. Justice, Joy and Daily Bread
ed. Michael Schut