This evening I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Charles Arand speak about how humans, Christians in particular, have viewed creation and their place in it. He explained that there are two basic ways to view creation: humankind set apart from nature or humankind as part of nature. Much of history points to the view of humankind being set apart from nature. This can be further broken down into humans above, over, or against nature. Dr. Arand gave examples from the past two thousand years that demonstrated each of these mindsets. Next he focused in on humankind as part of nature: humans with, into, and within nature. He ended his presentation with a question about how we, as Christians, should see our place in the world. On Wednesday later this week he will provide a deeper explanation to his answer at the convocation. For now, he emphasized the need to see creation as something God created us to care for and nourish.
As I listened to Dr. Arand speak I was amazed by how many of his references I recognized. He used Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Bacon, Thoreau, and others to illustrate the various ways humans view nature. Having studied each of those influential people I was able to gain a much better understanding of Dr. Arand's message. I can hardly believe how course material, even in other classes, ties back to the readings we are assigned in Honors class. Also, as I listened, I recognized the basic structure of his presentation. It very closely followed that of the book Together with All Creatures that was published by the LCMS. His presentation reinforced what I had already read.
This experience gave me a chance to reflect on the readings I had done for class and absorb the main message. Sometimes I rush through reading assignments and don't take the time to contemplate what they are saying. By listening to Dr. Arand I was able to put individual readings together into a broader picture. For me this confirmed the notion that we (humans) were put on this earth to care for it and all the life it contains. We are not meant to control nature and use it solely for our purposes. Somehow, attitudes need to change and people need to start showing the world more respect.