Even Sparrows... Bird watchers


Posted: 10.09.23 in Articles category


Have you heard the term before? It’s relatively new to me, but it’s one that I think chimes well, despite its apparent absurdity on first reading. How can we speak, for example, of community when nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’ – a seeming hierarchy of predator and predated? Are the house martins currently flying over my neighbourhood in any meaningful sense in community with the sparrowhawk that also flies over on occasion and causes them to scatter in panic?     

 Earlier this year I was introduced to Richard Bauckham’s book, ‘BIBLE AND ECOLOGY: Rediscovering the Community of Creation. In his preface Bauckham writes that the phrase refers to “the kind of vision of creation that the Bible, read as a whole, offers us. It highlights our commonality with other creatures, our dependence on them as well as our significance for them, in a life in which all creatures exist for the glory of God.” He argues that the concept of ‘stewardship’ that tends to dominate modern Christian thinking is too limited and overly focused on Genesis chapter 1. Instead, we need a wider understanding of humankind as fellow creatures alongside others within the rest of God’s creation which Bauckham argues is supported by biblical material like Genesis 2, Job 38-41, various psalms including 96,104 and 148, and the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 6 verses 25-33):

 “All God’s creatures are first and foremost creatures, ourselves included. All earthly creatures share the same Earth; and all participate in an interrelated and interdependent community, orientated above all to God our common Creator. It is a community of highly diverse members whose mutual relationships are therefore enormously rich and diverse. Modern ecological science is constantly revealing more and more of the complex balance and flux of interrelationships within the biosphere of the earth and its component ecosystems… Biblical writers were not able to plot such interconnections scientifically, but they articulate a vision of creation that is coherent with the science, while focusing, as science properly cannot, on matters of value, ethics, responsibility and, especially, the creation’s relation with God.”      

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