Thursday, February 5, 2015

Creation Corner Col. 2/15: An 11th Commandment

An Eleventh Commandment

 "What updates are needed for the Ten Commandments" was a question posed in The Guardian Weekly of Jan. 23-29 "Notes and Queries" section.

Immediately one might recall back thirty-five years to The Eleventh Commandment Fellowship and the names Vincent Rossi and Fred Krueger.  Based on Psalm 24:1, they proclaimed the eleventh commandment as "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; Thou shall not despoil the earth, nor destroy the life thereon."

Their efforts promoting Christian ecological ethics were aided then by The North American Conference on Christianity and Ecology (NACCE), Appalachia Science in the Public Interest (ASPI, Fr. Albert Fritsch), the AuSable Institute (Cal DeWitt), The National Catholic Rural Life Conference, the Ozarks Bioregional Project (David Haenke),the eco-justice working group of the National Council of Churches of Christ, among others.

Before that, In 1939 Soil conservationist Walter C. Lowdermilk (1888-1974)  proposed the following as "The Eleventh Commandment":

"Thou shalt inherit the holy earth as a faithful steward conserving its resources and productivity from generation to generation.  Thou shalt safeguard thy fields from soil erosion, thy living waters from drying up, thy forests from desolation, and protect thy hills from overgrazing by the herds, that thy descendants may have abundance forever.  If any shall fail stewardship of the land,thy fruitful fields shall become sterile stony ground or wasting gullies, and thy descendants shall decrease and live in poverty or perish off the face of the earth."

And going back in time even further, surely the Old Testament verse from Micah 6:8 also comes to mind as having an application to earth stewardship.  "And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly (thus, our goal of environmental justice), to love mercy (in reciprocity, we need to sustain the environment as it sustains us) and to walk humbly with your God" (curb my hubris and greed so as not to permanently remove what God has generously provided for my beneficial use and enjoyment).

Perhaps the reader can think of an eleventh commandment too.  For example, using the "re-" prefix, "Recycle, Repent, Reduce, Redeem, Replenish, Reuse, Rejoice!" etc.