Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Book Open to the Sky

"I don't think it is enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is. . . . such as Thoreau talked about- a book open to the sky. . . . outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine- which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.

It is clearly impossible to assign holiness exclusively to the built church without denying holiness to the rest of Creation, which is then said to be 'secular.' The world, which God looked at and found entirely good, we find none too good to pollute entirely and destroy piecemeal. The church, then, becomes a kind of preserve of 'holiness,' from which certified lovers of God assault and plunder the 'secular' earth.

Not only does this repudiate God's approval of His work; it refuses also to honor the Bible's explicit instruction to regard the works of Creation as God's revelation of Himself. The assignation of holiness exclusively to the built church is therefore logically accompanied by the assignation of revelation exclusively to the Bible. But Psalm 19 begins, 'The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.' The word of God has been revealed in facts from the moment of the third verse of the first chapter of Genesis: 'Let there be light: and there was light.' And Saint Paul states the rule: 'The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made.'"

Wendell Berry's essay, "Christianity and the Survival of Creation," in Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community, pp. 103-04

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