I have recently been reading a stunning new book, Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together.
The book includes an essay by Dakota writer and activist Waziyatawin, with this keen observation:
“Stewardship” is loaded with anthropocentric ideology, implying that humans, and Christians in particular (since they have more power than the Jewish and Muslim communities that share this “creation mandate”), know best how to organize or care for other beings…
Christians need to acknowledge and deconstruct those core aspects of their faith that elevate and prioritize humanity over and against the earth. This will be a massive undertaking.
Christians – and many people of faith – may need a Copernican revolution in our theology. Scientists have known for a long time that we are not the center of the universe. Now it is high time our theologians take a similar turn and help people of faith and goodwill to form systems of belief that correctively put us in our place. I am not sure that a well-intentioned Christian theology of stewardship goes far enough to reimagine our place in the universe.
Science tells us that humans have only been present for a recent blip in the life of this planet. This planet will likely outlive humanity. Yet our beliefs have not caught up with this reality. I ask myself, “What does my faith say about the meaning of a universe without humanity?”
I do not find such questions threatening. Instead, I think there are new horizons opening up as we respond to a world in crisis. I hope pastors and practical theologians have the courage to entertain the questions and help us navigate a turn.
Recognizing our limitations is not a cry to cease trying everything we can to care for our planet. Instead, it is a call to reimagine those strivings from a posture of humility, uncertainty and cooperation.
 Waziyatawin, “A Serpent in the Garden: An Unholy Worldview on Sacred Land,” in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together, Ed. Steve Heinrichs (Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2013), 217-18.
Chad Martin is Associate Pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster
Painting at top of page is “Drought and Gathering Storm” by Kevin L Miller