Sunday, 12 October 2014

Creationtide explained


During September I have been using the Twitter hashtag #Creationtide. This is an article explaining what it meant that I wrote for our church magazineat St John's, Edinburgh, reprinted by kind permission of the editor. This is the link to the magazine: http://www.stjohns-edinburgh.org.uk/get-involved/cornerstone-magazine.html

I have been asked to explain Creationtide. This in my capacity as Convenor of the Green Ginger Group, which exists to force the decision-makers of St John's to consider environmental issues every time they face a choice. Some churches, I have noticed, call it Creationtime.

One strand in Western thinking, frequently the dominant strand in Christianity, has been to regard Creation as a pyramid with the human race at the top. Everything exists to help the human race. The value of everything is measured by it usefulness to the human race. It is possible to derive this wrong interpretation from a misreading of the Book of Genesis. It received a considerable boost in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for the science of those days sometimes seemed to be about humanity establishing control over Creation.

This was never the only strand of thinking. In the wonderful last section of Book of Job, for example, the complete independence of God's Creation from human convenience is asserted. This is one of the messages to be found in the story of Jonah, which we studied in Lent. And the twenty-first century scientist, like the modern ecologist and the modern theologian, is more likely to see the value of every item of Creation for its own sake, the unknowable vastness and complexity of Creation, the inter-relationship of all the pieces and so on. It was not an accident that our theme in 2013 brought forth respectful praise of midges and ticks as well as of pretty, loveable animals.

Scientists now are in broad agreement that the human race (and much life on Earth) is experiencing a massive ecological crisis, facing mass extinctions caused by pollution, climate change and so on. We have to improve our relationship with Creation, and get rid of short-term selfishness.

Creationtide, devised in 1989 is adopted by more and more churches all over the world. It is September 1 to October 4th , climaxing in Harvest Festival and in the Feast of St Francis. All the resources of the church are used to get us to think responsibly about Creation. More knowledge, less selfish attitudes, mutual respect, wonder and changed behaviour are all part of it.

Every year at St John's we have a theme to focus our studies. This year it is the rocks of which the earth is made. By the time you read this Creationtide will be well advanced. Do take advantage of this inspiring season, to be part of making things better.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Edinburgh, as described by Sir Walter Scott in "Marmion"

            


            Still on the spot Lord Marmion stay’d,
            For fairer scene he ne’er survey’d.
               When sated with the martial show
               That peopled all the plain below,
               The wandering eye could o’er it go,
               And mark the distant city glow
                  With gloomy splendour red;
               For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow,
               That round her sable turrets flow,
                  The morning beams were shed,
               And ting’d them with a lustre proud,
               Like that which streaks a thunder-cloud.
            Such dusky grandeur cloth’d the height,
            Where the huge Castle holds its state,
               And all the steep slope down,
            Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
            Pil’d deep and massy, close and high,
               Mine own romantic town!
            But northward far, with purer blaze,
            On Ochil mountains fell the rays,
            And as each heathy top they kiss’d
            It gleam’d a purple amethyst.
            Yonder the shores of Fife you saw;
            Here Preston Bay and Berwick Law:
               And broad between them roll’d,
            The gallant Frith the eye might note,
            Whose islands on its bosom float,
               Like emeralds chased in gold.