By Rick McVicar
Spiritual health is becoming more and more connected these days with ecological health.
Climate change is becoming an existential crisis for humanity, which makes it a spiritual crisis, as well as one for mental health.
I have had strong feelings of sadness over environmental conditions for a long time. In a literature class at The Ohio State University, taught by Garrett Cummins, I recently found out that I am not alone. The climate crisis is presenting wide-spread challenges to mental health on a mass scale. After studying “Hope and Mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding Ecological Grief,” by Ellis Neville and Ashlee Cunsolo, I discovered that eco-grief and eco-anxiety are major causes for increasing mental health concerns.
Below: Pick on image for linking to my YouTube channel.
In my literature class, we learned how to interpret various pieces of literature with a critical eye for how nature is treated by the writers' characters. Are they placed in either a symbiotic or an adversarial position in regard to the natural environment? Also, how are diversity issues, such as gender, class and race, treated alongside nature? In class, we debated how writers throughout American history have treated the environment.
In blogging about spiritual health, and connecting it to environmental health, I would like to ask those ecological questions about the Bible, especially the New Testament. The questions appear particularly relevant in this Christmas season, especially as I pass a Christmas tree lot on my way to and from the gym. One source of grief I hold is the grief over the cutting of trees for placement inside houses and businesses. I feel sad over the loss of green life for the indulgence of a holiday, which always results in brown dead trees lying along curbs a week after Christmas.
In turn, I want to know what spurs Christians to take such a cavalier attitude towards the earth. What is it about this religion that prods people to mow down trees for their sheer amusement in celebrating the birth of their savior? To answer this question, I will be blogging on how biblical writers treat the environment. Besides published Bibles, I will also be relying on my own paraphrasing, which I am in the process of animating.
Below: An animated reading of Psalm 18:6-7, lamenting our environmental crisis.