Aug 4 2010

Paradise Lost?

Reflection Lakes 236I have spent the last three days in Paradise.  Really!  I have been at the Paradise area in Mount Rainier National Park.  The name given to this gorgeous place is fitting.  The Paradise area sits below lofty Mount Rainier and is world famous for its wildflower display each summer.  John Muir once described Paradise Meadows as “the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountaintop wanderings.”  The meadows are still covered with wildflowers today but the presence of millions of visitors has come with a price.  Many sections of the fragile landscape has been trampled. 


Paradise 408Today there seem to be as many signs warning park visitors to stay on the trails as there are wildflowers.  As several have noted in recent years, we seem to be loving our national parks to death!  Paradise Meadows is still beautiful but for it to remain that way for future generations to enjoy park visitors like myself must be very careful not to tred off marked trails.


The Bible describes another Paradise God created long long ago.  Unfortunately, it too has been marred by the “footprint” of its visitors.  With nearly seven billion people inhabiting planet earth today it is more important than ever before that we exercise caution and restraint as we live out our lives on this fragile planet. Perhaps we need more signs (like the one shown below asking people in many different languages to exercise caution) reminding us that if we’re not careful we will lose what we have.


Paradise 653The Bible actually contains many signs warning us not to abuse the land. Ecologists and scientists over the years have posted numerous warning signs. The destruction that has already occurred to God’s Creation should likewise serve as a sign.


It is obvious to me that Paradise has not yet been lost but it has certainly been damaged.  Will the generations that follow us be able to enjoy what we do today?  That’s up to us.




(The top image of Mount Rainier was taken at Reflection Lakes yesterday.  The flowers and sign were both taken at Paradise Meadows.)


Aug 1 2010

The Alverna Covenant

WA-Mt-Rainier-NP-Paradise-MeadowsA couple of days ago I read a chapter in a book that detailed how many Christians feel that environmental issues are not important.  One reason given is the belief that Christ is coming back soon and will establish a new heaven and a new earth.  As a result, they argue, why waste time and money caring for that which will shortly be replaced?  It was also pointed out that some Christians feel that the material world is evil.  Due to this belief some say the earth doesn’t need saving, we need to be saved from the earth.

I cannot express how frustrating it is to me that many who take the name “Christian” fail to see environmental stewardship as an important aspect of our faith.  Thankfully, not all Christians have such a truncated view of Creation and our role as caretakers.  The denomination to which I belong—the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—encourages its members to affirm “the Alverna Covenant.” It reads as follows.


 *God has created the world with finite resources

*God has given to us the stewardship of the earth

*God has established order through many natural cycles

And it is evident that:

*We are consuming resources at a rate that cannot be maintained

*We are interrupting many natural cycles

*We are irresponsibly modifying the environment through consumption and pollution

*We are populating the earth at a rate that cannot be maintained

As a member of the human family and a follower of Jesus Christ, I hereby covenant that:

*I will change my lifestyle to reduce my contribution to pollution

*I will support recycling efforts

*I will search for sustainable lifestyles

*I will work for public policies which lead to a just and sustainable society

*I will share these concerns with others and urge them to make this Covenant.

Since I support the Alverna Covenant I would like to do what the last line says and encourage you to make this Covenant too.  I realize that there are lots of other things we need to do to be better stewards of God’s Creation but the Alverna Covenant seems to me to be a good place to start.


(The image above was taken at Paradise Meadows in Mount Rainier National Park.  I’ll be heading back there tomorrow.)