upper room daily devotions

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gorillas and More Gorillas

It's been a while since I've made a proper posting...and it will be a little while longer before I am able to sit down and write about topics directly related to progressive Christianity, or, as I would prefer to call what I'm interested in, deep Christianity.

For now, let me highlight an article that is receiving wide attention. According to a recent census, the number of lowland gorillas appears to be almost twice the population size that scientists have been estimating.

This is excellent news, but it also raises concerns for the continued protection of and care for these animals. We now run the risk of people feeling more free to kill (I would say murder) them for bush meat. It is also possible that the strong laws protecting these animals may come under threat. Let us hope not. This is one of those rare times when we have learned, without caveat, some good ecological news. So, I'll just try and receive it as such.

People have asked me why I post about gorillas (usually the mountain gorillas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda) on a progressive Christian website. I will admit the decision to post articles here is a bit arbitrary. However, the plight of the gorilla, especially the mountain gorilla, is a living example of the interrelatedness of life, the power of politics, and the consequences of actions taken every day taken by everyday people. I find this deeply connected to my faith and my understanding of God.

Life is radically interrelated. It is folly for me to believe that my search for cheap goods doesn't connect to slave labor, deforestation, or oppressive politics. It is important for me, for you, for all of us to realize that as the world's most active consumers, we have a power to affect the rest of the world in ways never known in the history of the world. This becomes, to use a Christian term, a question of stewardship. The plight of the gorilla raises for me real life questions of stewardship: Do I need a new cell phone that uses Coltan when my old one works just fine? When I buy patio furniture, where does that cheap wood come from? How much packaging should the West be exporting to Africa where they have even fewer options for disposing of plastic? What are we going to do about clean drinking water, waste water management, and the politics of water? Can't we make more progress on alternative fuels so people simply trying to subsist don't cut down trees for charcoal, thus destroying the habitat of gorillas?

The mountain gorilla serves as a symbol for me of how I am called to live as a follower of Christ. It reminds me of the covenant between God and humankind and our commission to tend all of creation. I could just as easily see a wolf, a sea turtle, a Western pond turtle, a sea lion, a whale, or a polar bear. These are all fighting for survival amid the press of human consumption.

I am glad to hear this news about the lowland gorilla and I hope for good things to come for the mountain gorilla. It would help me believe that humans can be good stewards of God's precious creation.

For more on the article, go here.

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