Creation Care: Escapism and Why We Need to be Present With God, Each Other and Creation
In my intro blog to creation care, I talked a little bit about Escapism and why it is not what God intended for this world. In this blog article, we will dive a little deeper into what escapism is and how we can escape that mentality (pun intended).
What is escapism? The word in the dictionary simply means to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities. We say that we are people of focus and action yet we find ourselves constantly distracting ourselves with literally anything. One look at the amount of screen time that we spend on our devices, consuming endless amounts of content, points to the problem that we have with being distracted. We have become a people that try to escape from anything that causes us even a little bit of discomfort. Our habits may point to minor escapism on our part, but, as a whole, society is dealing with an even bigger problem. This can be seen through the ways that we look after our planet or the ways in which we do not.
At a surface level, we know that God longs to reconcile the world to himself. At a heart level, it is easy to say that God just wants to reconcile people instead of all of creation. God wants to reconcile more than people. He wants to reconcile all of creation including people. In the book, Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation, Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba talk about how we can be a part of God’s reconciliation of all creation. They call the phenomenon that we are dealing with in the church today, reconciliation deficit disorder. As a church, we lack the imagination that it takes for us to believe that a good God who made everything good wants to restore everything back to the way that it was in the beginning. Our solution should be to learn to see the world the way that God sees it and to act accordingly. Instead, we find ways to escape the current reality that we live in and we do nothing. How many times have you walked through a homeless region in a city and had a sense of compassion come over you just to go back to your warm home and forget all that you saw that day? I know that I go through moments like these; I allow my mind to get disconnected from what is happening around me. We have a focus on converting souls, and we tend to care less about the bodies that contain the souls. This just does not lead to the holistic reconciliation that we want to see.
If God was only concerned with souls, then why on earth did he bother to give us this beautiful world. God is not only concerned with souls. The world is for us to enjoy and to take care of. Creation should always point us back to the creator. We should wake up every day and say thank you to God for everything because without him nothing would exist. This thankfulness leads us to be thankful for the other people around us. When we love and appreciate creation, we stop thinking of escaping earth as if it was a prison that we are confined to for the test of this life. We start to see real-world problems like the excess use of chemicals that can kill microorganisms. In this sense of care is a call to community. We need to work together if we want to see lasting change in our thinking and our actions.
Now that we know the harms of escapism, let’s look at some ways that we can become a people that are present.
Put down your phone
You may say ‘what does putting away my phone have to do with creation care?’ When you look at your phone you zone out everything around you. You may say ‘I can look at my phone and not get distracted.’ God only gave you two eyes and when you are on your phone both of your eyes are staring at that rectangular screen. Put down the phone, and look at the beautiful people around you. You will see a lot of beauty but you may see some things that need some work. You might be able to help. This is a gift from God so put down your phone.
Cultivate a lifestyle of listening and learning
In North America, we have become a people that are so self-absorbed; we do not care about stuff that has nothing to do with our current situation. Besides putting the phone down, we need to learn to listen. The picture to the left sums it up pretty well. We first need to listen then through listening we learn. Then, we can easily love the people around us better. There are almost 8 billion people on the planet. You are not the only one. I know that this can be hard because of the pandemic that we have been living in the past few years. However, when was the last time that you spent some time listening to a complete stranger. For myself, I need to push myself out of my comfort zone more often and listen to the people around me. The purpose of this article is creation care. You may ask ‘what does listening to people have to do with creation care?’ As we listen to other people we learn about the world that we live in and we see ways that we can help to bring light and life to the creation around us, as a gesture of hope and a foreshadowing to the new creation that is coming.