Shuck and Jive

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Earth: Hotel or Home?

Speaking of Christian theologians with an Earth-centered Christianity, I just started reading the new book by Sallie McFague:

A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming.

I started reading from the middle. In the third chapter under her heading, "Ecological Literacy," she writes:

If we were to accept ecological unity as the working interpretation for our dealings with each other and with our world, we would have two responses: appreciation and care. We would see ourselves as part of the web of life, an incredibly vast, complex, subtle, beautiful web that would both amaze us and call forth our concern. We would feel awe about and care for our planet. It would be similar to the difference between imagining the world as a hotel and imagining it as a home. The Western practice has certainly been closer to hotel than home. In a hotel, the utilitarian perspective dominates: one uses hot water copiously, orders from the room service menu whatever one wishes, dumps the thick, dirty towels on the floor, and heads down the road to the next night's hotel. The world as hotel is a resource, solely for human use, including excessive use, if one so desires. This attitude toward the world could be called the "Kleenex perspective": use and discard. If, however, the earth were to be seen as our home, our one and only home, our response to it is likely to be very different. One appreciates a home and wants to care for it. The very word home has deep resonances for most people; it is where one belongs, where on feels "at home." The home metaphor immediately brings to mind the necessity for house rules, the kind one pins on the refrigerator for all occupants to see and obey. They are usually something like the following: (1) Take only your share. (2) Clean up after yourself. (3) Keep the house in good repair for others. Simple to understand, but immensely difficult to live out when we consider them in relation to the earth as our home, our house. (p. 53).

There is an old hymn that goes:

The world is not my home; I'm just passing through.

It is not my hymn. Here is mine:

The world is my home; won't you care for it, too?


  1. If you're looking for Earthiness, I recommend more Sally McFague.

  2. She's great. I have appreciated her insights since I read Metaphorical Theology in the early 90s at seminary.