Advent Devotional, Dec. 8: “Scoff Not” by Donna Schaper
This Advent series is about animals. Wolves and lambs. leopards and kids, calves and lions, cows and bears. A human child playing near a snake or putting a hand in the adder’s den.
You’d think the Bible’s peaceful forecasts were from an environmental conference. It would open with Lynn White’s prophetic 1967 essay, “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.” It would end with a dismissal of his point of view. White argued that we thought we were superior to nature, from the dominion texts in Genesis 1, and that was that. Anthropocentric, another big and important word, reigned as his critique.
Today theologians like Sallie McFague and many others say White failed to let the Yahwist dominion account of creation quarrel with the priestly version. In Genesis 2:15, God took “man” and put him in the Garden of Eden to fill and keep it. God creates a relationship between earth and earthling, not of human over Earth but of human in earth. You may scoff at these high-minded Genesis quarrels. Don’t!
You won’t find your way to the Advent promise of peace between beings who usually quarrel and threaten each other. Dominion is what these animals give up on their way to peace. The wolves and the lambs are already fighting over the water and the oil. “Revelation comes to those who are radically hospitable to what they don’t know.” Rebecca Parker said that. She is right. Earthlings will be saved by our curiosity about each other, animals included.
O God, when we get caught in the dominion debate, grant us the capacity to do the opposite of scoffing. Help us to understand what we don’t understand about animals.
United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.