Our Good Earth

Christian Tradition has always taken a holistic view of life

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Earth Faith

We need to remind ourselves sometimes that Christianity is a very materialistic and earthly religion. In our faith there is no necessary conflict between body and spirit; they were not created to be at odds with each other. G.K. Chesterton put it like this:

There are no bad things, but only bad uses of things. If you will there are no bad things but only bad thoughts and especially bad intentions… the devil cannot make things bad: they remain as on the first day of creation. The work of Heaven alone is material – the making of a material world. The work of hell is entirely spiritual.

We ought not to be caught up in the belief held by Buddhists, for example, that the soul is a sort of prisoner of the body, destined eventually to be set free. On the contrary, we believe in the resurrection of the body (the Greek word sarx, or flesh, is even more emphatic). How this will happen is the deepest of mysteries, but until the time when all things are revealed we should keep in mind that mere “spirituality” is not enough: our physical lives are important and redeemable.

Keeping this in mind will shape our attitudes to the world about us. We may think young people like Greta Thunberg are misguided and wrong-headed, but they are quite right to place a high value on the physical world. Let’s by all means question their methods and their claims, but let’s also honor their passion. To some extent at least we’re all on the same page: the world is good and we are called to care for it.

We are also called to care for people, not just their souls but their bodies too. As Christians we rightly shudder at the thought of aborting an unborn child, of pre-natal infanticide, and we’re horrified by the hypocrisy of governments that provide funding for child welfare with one hand and for “terminations” with the other. Likewise euthanasia, the deliberate ending of a life (with or without the consent of the subject) is a horrifying thing.

Surely any interference with the natural course of a human life is a denial of the essential goodness of the world that God made for us. For all its faults and failings the Christian Tradition has always taken a holistic view of life as an amalgam of the spiritual and material. The whole of life is sanctified.

 

David Daintree was President of Campion College (Australia’s only Catholic liberal arts college) from 2008 to 2012. In 2013 he founded and is now Director of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Hobart.

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