Comments 3

  1. Ideally, Calvin DeWitt’s concepts would be employed without politicians seeking their own benefit. Harlan Vander Griend

  2. I’ve been to Palm Desert. Had a relative who taught in an elementary school there and even helped her out in her class one day. And someone in my church has a winter home there.

    I wouldn’t want to live in Palm Desert, but then I wouldn’t want to live in any desert climate, which blocks out much of Arizona, S California, and lots of other places.

    But I don’t really understand the view that it is apparently self-evident that no one should want to, or should be allowed to live, in places like Palm Desert. I’d much rather that people build houses and schools and roads on land that can’t be readily farmed (e.g, Palm Desert) than land that can (e.g., Willamette Valley in Oregon).

    But, you may say, farming isn’t neccessarily “earth wise.” No, maybe not, but maybe it is, or maybe it’s “people wise” and maybe it is “earth/people wise” to use deserts for housing.

    My point is that judgments must be made about these questions and it isn’t as simple as avoiding “ignor-ance” or even remembering “praxis.” Nor is it as simple as getting folks together and all agreeing to leave an open space unused for anything but an open space park.

    And as above suggested, there is more to be wise about than just the earth (as in “earth wise”). We must also be “people wise,” because God’s creation includes the sixth day (creating people) and the Creation account has things to say about the relationship between God’s image bearers and the rest of what he created, especially the “garden.”

    Without any doubt, building houses and roads will inevitably impact sand, dirt, lizards, insects, snakes, etc. And frankly, we’ll never have the scientific ability to know for sure how much or in what way, or how exactly how that hurt hurts other things, people included.

    I do know — or am of the conviction — that when we evaluate the impacts of any human development, the dominant concern must be for people, not for “the earth sans people.” No, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have open space parks. It doesn’t mean developers are to be given free license to always do what the decide to do. It doesn’t mean we should ignore future generations of people, or the fact that the lives of people are intertwined with the environment they live in. But it does mean that the purpose of the “garden” (the earth) is to be a garden for people, and not for the other things in the garden.

    In law these days, that is the question. Should trees, plants, animals, and dirt have legal protection rights? Many who call themselves “environmentalists” say “yes.” I emphatically say “no,” and would suggest that is the biblical answer as well.

    It would be good and clarifying I think, that when Christians talk about “creation care” or being “earth wise,” they use words that make clear that God created the earth (“the garden”) for his image bearers to live in. We don’t always make that clear. Sometimes, I’m not sure we still believe it.

    1. I think your final comments are worth some careful consideration. The garden is not a garden for people in the way that you imply. It is for God. God made the earth and all that is in it for His Glory. Part of that is our careful, creative, thoughtful, use but other things have value to God independent of our use of them. God declares all that he made good- even before man was created. There are themes all through the bible that make this clear. Even the Noahic covenant is not properly between God and Noah. It is between God and all creation with specific promises to Noah. Throughout the old testament and new, The creation is treated as a moral object. There are right and wrong ways to treat it. Science reinforces this theme and elaborates on the meaning of these moral trajectories. There are plenty of negative consequences for inappropriate treatment of other creatures.

      We get to live here, we get to be a part of the “very good”, whole creation that God made. We are given the opportunity to creatively explore, shape, enrich, develop. But choosing to ignore the consequences of choices we make, or not trying to anticipate negative outcomes, seems as absurd as putting your hand on a burner and not expecting it to hurt.

      As you suggest, being earthwise is being people wise. I don’t think you can “love your neighbor” without “loving” the place that he lives. If we impoverish our environment, we impoverish ourselves in both the material sense and the spiritual sense. I believe that some of the choices we make in our relationships with other creatures represent a wrong heart direction. Some are made with the best of intentions but little thought or insight.

      There are many ways that we can serve and be served by the land and other creatures. Is it our right to be served? No- it is our privelege. The earth is the Lord’s. I would say that we are here to keep it as much as it is here to serve our needs…or our desires.

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