This Film Renews Ancient Warning

Surreal collage by Mark Turner of a man stands on dry ground and bursting through water to reach for the sun
We are Earth. We can reach beyond ourselves for help. Click HERE to see this image larger and get it for your own contemplation.

I am a late viewer of Leonardo DiCaprio’s important documentary “Before the Flood” (2016) . It starts with Hieronymus Bosch’s monumental artistic prophecy  (painted between 1490 and 1510) of humanity’s degradation of the Creation and then documents the real, current day fulfillment of it.

We have had ample prophets

to warn us of our errors in this world. The ancient scriptures must not be overlooked in this. DiCaprio’s film gives media clips that remind me of Lamentations 2:14 about prophets who give false and misleading messages in the name of the Lord. Today we can add “in the name of Christ” as we witness those waging war against the efforts and warnings of those seeking to save the planet. The result of false prophets is that many have suffered consequences of misusing God’s gifts from the Garden of Eden to this day’s dire outlook for the future.

The film surveys our monumental destruction of vital rain forests, the extinction of many species, reduction of clean water and pollution of the air. How great will this planetary failure be?

Jesus demonstrated

in his particularity as the Son of Man (the example of all humans) the phenomenon of unknowing people crucifying Creation, in contrast to God’s will of resurrection. Will humanity continue this crucifying behavior until all is lost, and how will we be resurrected?

I suggest that some scriptures which have traditionally been restricted to a chosen few may also be applied to the whole planet. The Apostle Paul writes that we are all members of the whole and aught to handle the whole with mindfulness and respect. Are we not all members of God’s creation, God’s physical expression? Do we not all handle the body God has made to manifest Godself? (See, for instance, I Corinthians 10:16-17; 12; 13; Romans 12:4-5)

I see a pulsing evolution

in which we move ahead and then shrink back, like the children of Israel coming to the boarder of the Promised Land and balking only to return to the wilderness as nomads until the next generation comes again to that decision. We see it throughout history as well as in our individual lives, how we learn the hard way by failing and trying again with more wisdom.

Valiant work must continue to be done to stop planetary destruction. But our limited capacity for change must be expanded. In his film DiCaprio expresses on-camera the sense of the impossibility of changing our course to destruction. Some respond to him with hope and faith that people will heed his warning and change circumstances.

When we recognize impossibility with faith,

we open ourselves to expanded resources beyond brute force and mental genius. We awaken to our spiritual capacity manifested in wisdom, strength of imagination and bonding between comrades, all of which combine for the extraordinary deeds we need. Humanity has experienced this expansion at crisis points throughout history. Now, again, is the time to step up to the impossible.

Hope against the face of impossibility, faith for things unknown, is the beginning of the miraculous raising from the dead. The old order is to think and act solely in the “objective, scientific” realm of the material and leave ancient “religion” out of the equation. Likewise, many in religion have separated themselves from “earthly” concerns to prepare for an escape to heaven.

But, true prophets are pointing out the lesson that

separating the material from the spiritual has proven destructive.

They are calling us to unite Material with Spirit. This is the realm where humanity has formed language about God because we have had an innate sense that we are partnering in a creation infinitely broader than immediately perceived. We do not always call it the “material-spiritual merger,” but, like lights in the darkness, we can express love in behaviors that nurture Creation, rather than thoughtlessly consume it.

Resurrection will be accomplished by God’s Spirit expressed through our minds, skills and the physical deeds of a loving community. May we be as Jesus, particular members of God’s Body walking as the healers and agents of God’s unquenchable life for the Creation.

I pray, “Please, O God, be the Light through me; show in me the unchanging Truth healing the consequences of our failures and nurturing humanity forward.”

From a song of God’s unquenchable life so old we have forgotten the music:

“Long ago You established the earth,
and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You will endure;
all of them will wear out like clothing.
You will change them like a garment,
and they will pass away.
But You are the same,
and Your years will never end.
Your servants’ children will dwell securely,
and their offspring will be established before You.”
Psalm 102:25-28

5 Responses

  1. Suzy Wilbur

    Thank you, Mark! Randy and I have also been very concerned about the destruction of God’s glorious creation by pollution, over consumption, greed and shortsidedness. The earth is His, not ours. We are to be the stewards of His creation.

    • markart

      It’s hard to list the ways we abuse Creation knowingly and unknowingly. We can’t really act as good stewards until we actually believe that is what we are — to know that we are also the Creation, the part that cares for the rest of it. Thank you for taking time to read this long post and I hope it encourages you and Randy to help others to realize who we are. God bless you.

  2. Suzy Wilbur

    Love and God’s blessings upon you and Donna, Mark!

  3. Judith Dupree

    Mark, I missed this somehow, during a season of too much “muchness.” You know! So, this is so real, so God-focused, so full of grief and structured with Hope. I thank you for putting it into Words of Life (and yeah, death).
    Hope to see you before long! Sorry to know you’re not a hillbilly/jilly anymore! That leaves the title to us, eh? : )

    • markart

      Hey, there, Judith!
      Thanks for digging back to find this. It’s still relevant, eh? I feel more than ever that when we talk of all of Creation, in a way we are talking about the Body that we are all members of, the Body that God is still forming and we get to participate in the creation.
      Yes, we are leaving the hills for awhile, but must return frequently. So, seeing you will be extra motivation to get out again.