Posts Tagged christianity

Humans and Nature

When I first heard the word ecofeminism, I had no idea what to think. I was brought up going to an all girls Catholic school, so feminism is something I am fairly familiar with. My school’s mission states, “single sex education empowers women for leadership in contemporary society”.

The front gates to my high school.

The front gates to where feminist minds are molded.

That fragment alone sums up the hours of classes used to mold our young brains into strong women willing to stand up for themselves. While being a proud, strong woman was a large part of the curriculum, learning about the connection between humans and nature was not. I always assumed that humans were not a part of nature, but always had part of me questioning why the two were not considered to be one of the same. If humans are not part of nature, then what are we a part of? This question has eaten away at me until now. Reading about ecofeminism has started to answer this question for me, specifically a reading by Andy Smith, Ecofeminism through an Anticolonial Framework. This reading challenges the idea of humans being separated from nature by question if humans were to be destroyed, would the environment survive. It continues with a bold statement, “saving people should be as important as saving trees.” Coming across this started to answer my question and proceeded to give some answers. Before, I had no idea how to begin to answer this question but now I have a stepping-stone that would continue leading me to find more and more answers. The other ecofeminism works we read in class by Dorceta Taylor and Celene Kraus all raise incredible questions that dive further into the debate of humans being a part of nature. I had never deeply thought about the implications of what we do in our lives affects nature, which in time affects us. Before these readings, I never thought about who is affected by the hazardous substances put out into communities, or even realized that this existed however it quickly became clear that what affects nature, also affects people.  It gave me a sense of enlightenment and made me question why big environmental groups do not help support the people being affected by the same things that nature is affected by. The article, Hidden Risk,  separates wildlife and humans but shows that it’s not just wildlife that are affected by mercury but also humans. The connection between the two could not be any clearer. The knowledge I had of Ecofeminism before enrolling in the class was very minimal. It has since grabbed my interest by giving the ability to not just have a question, but the beginnings of an answer.

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Faith: Is it relevant?

Faith, fashioning moral values, shapes an individual’s perception of body, gender and nature. I attended a small church in Central Pennsylvania and the community within those walls had a large impact on my perception of my body, gender and nature. In Christianity, one sees their body “as the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), in other words, one treats one’s body with respect and does not exploit one’s own or someone else’s body. Beauty was no longer about the outward appearance, but was a word to reflect the heart, the essence of the human being. In our world, media, movies, and celebrities have an influence on our idea of the “beautiful” woman.  Daily on magazine covers or on TV, we see the slender, attractive woman on the front cover. Though, I have been at fault for following the trends by exercising to fit the “ideal” image, I know the simple truth that beauty is fleeting and that “inner beauty”, which emerges from the heart is what matters and has the lasting impression.

Nature is valued in the Christian faith, it is seen as God’s creation. It was created first and is to be preserved and not abused. Humans are to live within nature, in a sense, cohabitate. Presently, one can see the devastation of environmental degradation, global warming and irresponsibility in taking care of our world. The Bible has lessons on avoiding the abuse of nature; if one should build a house do not cut from a fruit tree but instead from a tree not bearing fruit, therefore feeding those who are in need and hungry (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).

As discussed in class, it seems self-evident that women, their bodies, and nature are to be preserved and respected, so why then in our society are they exploited and seen as inferior and less valued? Barbara Epstein states, “Ecofeminism argues that patriarchy, the domination of women by men has been associated with the domination of nature. Men have justified their attempts to dominate nature by associating it with women”(Epstein 145). Does faith speak to the specific issue of ecofeminism? In my opinion, man’s “turning” was to soil (work or toiling in the ground), as a source of their identity, which then turned into domination and power over nature. The woman’s “turning” was to the man, as a source of her identity. Both “turnings” were away from God and the source of relationship. That is why relationships struggle today, why power and domination exist, man continues in his quest to be “God” and leaves in his wake the devastation of both man and nature, which is an idea given by William Paul Young, author of the bestselling novel, The Shack.  If ecofeminism does speak of this issue, what changes, if any, can I make to have a “voice” for nature and myself? Women and nature are oppressed and exploited, however faith and its relation to moral values may be the avenue of empowerment for myself to overcome such prejudices of body, gender, and nature.

Masaccio, Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise, 1427

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