SISTER DIANNE BERGANT, CSA, is a professor of Old Testament Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. She has written more than 12 books. Her most recent book, “A New Heaven, A New Earth: The Bible and Catholicity,” studies the Bible through the lens of caring for creation. (Renae Bauer photo)
The Bible tells us that every creature is valued regardless of if or how it’s used
By Renae Bauer
(September 2016) -- A simple fact of nature: Humans are not needed; however, humans need nature. Our survival depends on it.
This truth does not minimize or degrade human life, says Sister Dianne Bergant, CSA. It reminds us of how intertwined we are with nature. Knowing this, we must be good stewards if we want future generations to exist.
An Old Testament scholar, Sister Dianne drew from Church teachings during her presentation, “Care for Earth,” to Sisters and Associates. “The value of anything is that it is here; God created it,” she said. “Our value is that we are here.” Whether we are able to produce is irrelevant. Otherwise, what does that say about the aged or disabled, she asked rhetorically.
Too often, we view nature from an anthropocentric position, meaning we see ourselves as the center of creation and assume the value of other creatures is measured by how useful they are to us.
But the Bible -- from Genesis to God made Flesh -- offers this truth, namely, that God determines the value of all living creatures.
This is exemplified in the Book of Job, in which Job -- a “blameless, upright man who feared God and avoided evil” -- loses everything -- his seven sons, three daughters and his 11,000 head of livestock. Sister Dianne cautioned that Job’s story is not about being rewarded for suffering in silence. Instead, through his conversation with God, Job teaches us that we cannot begin to know what God knows. In the end, Job says to God, “I have spoken but did not understand; things too marvelous for me, which I did not know.” (Job 43:3)
“We can only think and judge from a human perspective,” said Sister. “It’s not bad but it is limited.” We need to move from an anthropo-centric to an interdependent perspective in which we recognize our mutual dependence with nature. “If God is in covenant with us and creation then we are in covenant with God and creation.”
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