Muse in Brief

Ambivalence of the Sacred Earth » No Unsacred Place

In my first post over at the new Pagan Newswire Collective blog project, No Unsacred Place: Earth and Nature in Pagan Traditions, I explore the Problem of Justice from an earth-centered perspective, and discuss its implications for the new Law of Mother Earth set to pass in Bolivia establishing the rights of nature:

The Problem of Justice for us is not so much why [suffering and evil] exist, but how should we respond to them? While monotheists might model themselves after an all-loving but ultimately transcendent deity who provides an example of justice and righteousness separate from and beyond the muck and mess of the world, our desire to “attune ourselves to the earth” and model ourselves on examples from the natural world cannot free us from this predicament. Questions about how to balance the needs of ecosystems and communities with the needs of individuals remain unresolved — just as we observe each bird, each rat, each mosquito and dandelion and sycamore strive for life and continuation, we witness natural disasters like earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes, disease and drought wreak wide-spread destruction without regard for that striving.

The matter is complicated further because we ourselves are not separate from that earth, that nature. If the Problem of Evil locates justice too far above the world in an untouchable, invulnerable God, then the Problem of Justice for us dirt-worshippers is that we locate justice too close, within the very vulnerable and interconnected world of which we ourselves are already a part, and which we change and shape by our very existence. It’s as though we’re trying to weigh our values and ethics on scales that we ourselves tip and swing with our bustling movements.

Can we really strive to protect the earth from ourselves, when we ourselves are part of her ecosystems and bioregions? How do we reconcile the reality of our interconnection and interdependence, with a political concept of “rights” based on individual autonomy and minority representation?

You can read the full article here.