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Readings for Reflection: April 2016
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

How We Care for This Earth

Naomi Klein’s account of how we treat our planet, This Changes Everything, is detailed and disturbing yet reflects the essence of William Penn’s own thoughts about how we care for this earth, our home, over 300 years earlier.    ~ Ruth Zweifler


If we better studied and understood God’s creation, this would do a great deal to caution and direct us in our use of it. For how could we find the impudence to abuse the world if we were seeing the great Creator stare us in the face through each and every part of it? 

- William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude (1682), paraphrased, from Lake Erie Yearly Meeting Advices & Queries.


In many pagan societies, the earth was seen as a mother, a fertile giver of life. Nature – the soil, forest, sea – was endowed with divinity and mortals were subordinate to it. The Judeo-Christian tradition introduced a radically different concept. The earth was the creation of a monotheistic God, who, after shaping it, ordered its inhabitants – in the words of Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” The idea of dominion could be interpreted as an invitation to use nature as a convenience. 

- Thomas Sancton, “Planet of the year: What on EARTH! Are We Doing!” Time, January 2, 1989, as quoted by Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything (2014)


All Readings for Reflection
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