Wednesday 6th November Standing up to Empire’s claim that humanity is the centre of the Universe
verses from Job 39
‘Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer?
Can you number the months that they fulfil, and do you know the time when they give birth, when they crouch to give birth to their offspring, and are delivered of their young?
‘Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will it spend the night at your crib? Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes, or will it harrow the valleys after you? Will you depend on it because its strength is great, and will you hand over your labour to it? Do you have faith in it that it will return, and bring your grain to your threshing-floor?
Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars, and spreads its wings towards the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes its nest on high? It lives on the rock and makes its home in the fastness of the rocky crag. From there it spies the prey; its eyes see it from far away. Its young ones suck up blood; and where the slain are, there it is.
“There is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians. [indigenous reserves] are an obstacle to agri-business. You can’t reduce indigenous land by even a square meter in Brazil”
So said Jair Bolsonaro, now President of Brasil, in Campo Grande News, April 22, 2015
This is the attitude at the heart of Empire when it comes to creation. Creation is a resource to be endlessly exploited. The impact of humanity on our environment has been latterly catastrophic and coincides with industrialisation and the emergence especially of consumerist hyper-capitalist economies. Humanity thinks it is at the centre and top of Creation, that it’s resources and life are destined and designated only to service humankind’s needs and desires. We live as if we are outside Creation, observing it, othering it, limiting its own agency and unique given-ness.
The argument between Job and God hinges in part on the self-reverence of Job, not only because his suffering has made him self-centred, so has his gender, privilege and mind set. As a wealthy, educated land owning male, he had become accustomed to being at the comfortable pinnacle of his society and community.
The Bible describes a state of mutuality between the Creator and the Creation, and the joy Creation takes in the Creator, (Ps. 9:1-4; 66:1; 96:11-13; 98:4; 100:1; 150:6). Do you think Creation takes joy in you? Is it glad when you awake and go about your life? Is it relieved when you go to sleep? Will it miss you when you are gone?
Rise up Jesus. Rise up in power to inspire and lead us. Reveal in our midst the world you are creating. May your ‘last will be first’ Spirit move us to do and believe your word: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” Amen
The Rev’d Dr Peter Cruchley is the Mission Secretary for Mission Development for Council for World Mission and a minister of the URC.