Are we slut shaming Earth???

I wasn’t sure if I’d continue writing this blog during grad school. Shortly, I’ll be writing papers out the wazoo. Currently, I should be translating verses of Biblical Hebrew. Instead, I spent a number of hours finishing Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story about Looking at People Looking at Animals in America by Jon Mooallem. It’s an incredible book. 5/5 would recommend.

Historically, I tend to ramble about environmental questions. I may do that a little bit right now because, guess what, it’s a blog and I CAN. But I also want to shed a little light on why I’ve decided to study ecological theology as a grad degree. If my cousins and guys on Bumble want to know, I bet you do, too! So, here goes:

I’m very curious about the intersection of environmental science and spirituality. I recently told my mom, “Ok, so maybe it’s too ambitious to get people of faith to champion environmental causes. But if that’s impossible, I at least want them (us*) to stop getting in the way.” This is baffling, folks. Adam was a gardener. He was boppin around, balls akimbo, giving taxonomy a good college try.
*I’ll mention people of faith, Christians, etc. throughout this piece, and I want to be clear that I’m included in that demographic. I’m not exempt from the criticism I may articulate. Our sins are shared, peeps. We done fucked up.

That’s the first reason I came to Princeton Theological Seminary! There’s a project called the Farminary where students can learn with and from the land about nature shtuff. I’m taking a class in the Fall that I’m super jazzed about.

Now, here comes a kicker. I’m having a hard time believing or trusting in the belovedness of humanity. Take a look at these two verses from the Bible:

I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven…
Genesis 26:4

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
Luke 12:24

Offspring as numerous as the stars?! ZOINKS. But, why? …Overpopulation, brah. There’s already so many of us that behind every flawless Insta, there’s a group of people laughing loudly and taking an identical selfie right outside the frame.

And I don’t know that we are worth more value than the birds… shouldn’t conservation be done in service of the land itself? I’m “guilty” of chirping on about the health benefits that humans enjoy from curated green patches. But perhaps that should be a byproduct of our healthy home.

Just in case you’ve been brainwashed or unconscious for years, our home isn’t so healthy. The book I mentioned earlier made me ponder some of the following questions:

What is “saving” an ecosystem?
When religious folk get up in arms about conservationists “playing God,” what is the preferential alternative to watching creatures suffer and die?
How do you leave a place “better” than you found it?
Are the people who we’ve written off as crazy or apathetic, bunkered in the backwoods or mountainsides, choosing the most reconciliatory path? Is it about slowing down and giving the planet a rest?
How could we, a broken people who can’t figure out how to liberate ourselves from all kinds of systemic inequalities while minimizing harm to one another, possibly make those judgments? Are we feeling nostalgia for an era of pristine virginal cleanliness?

Are we slut shaming Earth???

And, if so, as I believe may be the case, when did that start? Could our religious narratives play a role? Or at least the dominant religious narrative that has been forced on people (mostly by wealthy white people) all over this globe?

            That’s what I’m here to investigate.

I’m not so sure humans are all we’re cracked up to be. Maybe we’re a species that is simply a ravaging, greedy inconvenience to Nature. Maybe that’s idolizing nature. Clearly, I have a lot to learn, and I’m very privileged to be in a place to seek some information.

Jon Mooallem has a far more uplifting perspective in his book. He may still look at a habitat and wonder whether it is meticulously maintained by a group of tired environmentalists, but he saw how the innovation and initiative of conservationists points to a larger Good.

I do believe in that goodness, I do. And yet, I wonder…
Have we othered ourselves so much that we have a deep pang to belong in the community of creatures that we rule? Is that why honeymooners swim with dolphins and sit in picturesque places, waiting for a romantic flock of birds to fly by at sunset for a photo shoot? So that, if only for a moment, their love for one another will be multiplied by wildness?

Humans are just about everywhere, and we’re staging the environment for how we want it to look. When I think of senior pictures, engagement photos, the wedding decorations that have been planned down to the very last gerber daisy, it’s clear that our #nofilter backdrops are carefully planned. God-given or not, we have a collective desire to re-design the world we are designed for.

Oh, and by the way, we want to be the first one to do it. Preferably in our twenties.