It is impossible to understand the world properly as creation without a proper discernment of the sabbath. In the sabbath stillness men and women no longer intervene in the environment through their labour. They let it be entirely God’s creation. They recognize that as God’s property creation is inviolable; and they sanctify the day through their joy in existence as God’s creatures within the fellowship of creation. — Jürgen Moltmann
To anyone else, does a wind turbine look like a cross? Especially as they line the horizon, under the light of sunlight, perhaps three across? Or does the reflective screen of solar planes sparkle similarly to gilded icons? Does the thought of tidal power strike anyone as a sort of walking on water? This is not to claim the iconic status of alternative energy, but it drifts in that direction — for Jesus can be seen here.
I guess these symbols evidence the sacramentality of green energy, for those who have the eyes to see. There is a complex and torturous relationship between Christianity and “Green Energy,” or better, the whole environmental movement in general. This is traced back to a few things, but the most meaningful was an article out of a Californian university in the 70s, claiming that the hermeneutic for the treatment of the environment in the Judaeo-Christian tradition was one of domination. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In a more charitable and faithful reading of the texts of both the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures, it becomes transparent that God’s intention for humanity is to live at peace and in peace with the earth. Creation culminates in the habitation and expansion of a garden, with humanity tasked with its care, cultivation and evolution. Jesus is also mistakenly taken as the gardener in his resurrected state — a mistake that reveals an ultimate truth. And there is the ultimate movement of the vision of the kingdom of God: the New jerusalem, as a city, is a garden-paradise, with its streets lined with trees, and water flowing out of it for the healing of the nations. God is immensely concerned with the earth, and all of creation groans for the coming of the fullness of the kingdom.
Enter the combustion engine, industrialization and the rationalization and technologization of the exploitation of the earth. Energy is at the basis of every economy, as it is at the basis of all thermo-dynamic activities. And in our modern world, we garner our energies from sources that leave the earth scorched, raped, blackened and radioactive. In these ways, we deny Jesus as the gardener, we deny our responsibilities as fellow-gardeners and we actively work against the fullness of the kingdom of God, where all creation will be restored and in harmony with itself and God.
I don’t know if technology will exist at the eschaton. I don’t know if the Luddites are right, but I do know that we have the ability now to work towards the healing of the earth through the right use of resources, which includes changing the way we harvest energy. Every church and every Christian should be in support of green energy, because it is a step on the way to expanding the garden again. When we no longer need to destroy and burn the resources of our world to get our energy, we are clearing a space for the restoration of God’s world.
Recently, the EU came out with its goals, the US and China reached a deal, and some developed nations created a fund to help under-developed nations deal with climate change (which includes developing green energy projects). These are good steps, but they are not enough — not because the targets are too low, but because they rely on institutions. Christians are not just citizens who should act in their governments; they are in but not of the world, and as such are more responsible for its care. We need to commit ourselves to our own targets. We need to take on the responsibility for the care of the earth in asking ourselves a few questions: (1) where does my energy come from? (2) how can I use less energy? (3) how can I offset other resources I consume, such as my food, water, and material possessions? and (4) how can I help my neighbors in their responses to these questions?
The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. How are we acknowledging the Lordship of Christ in the way we produce our energy, grow our food and support our lifestyles? Do they and we need to change? May we have the wisdom and the humility to change the way we live. May we have the honest and the integrity to ask ourselves hard questions. And may we learn to love the earth as the Creator does, who longs to bring all things into redemption and make all things new.