Creation and the Exodus: two complementary traditions

23 01 2009
by Fernando Franco
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It was a good idea to reach Belem a day and a half earlier. One has more free time and the physical clock gets more time to adjust itself and a busy Jesuit gets the leisure to roam this beautiful vast city of two million people. A group of us decided to attend the morning lectures at the ‘World Forum on Theology and Liberation’, a gathering of ‘progressive’ theologians as they like to call themselves. The Forum meets just before the World Social Forum begins, and this year has attracted more than 900 participants from all over the world.

A theology professor from South Africa presented an insightful and provocative presentation on the ethical implications of sustainability with three examples. The first referred to the unfortunate fact that in many slums of South Africa buckets are used to collect night soil, a euphemism used also quite often in India to describe human waste. Human dignity, he said made it peremptory to stop this practice and provide all human beings with decent sanitation. The second example dwelt with a recent official survey on the water quality of drinking-water reservoirs in South Africa. The conclusions were devastating: the level of the water toxicity was very high. Mining and residual waters were contaminating the reservoirs. The third example talked about the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the danger that the flood of immigrants into South Africa would become a vehicle of transmission of the terrible disease.

In all the three examples, water was the key element but the role it played was quite different. Poor people need more water to have proper sanitation and some greens may not see it as a problem of ecology. Developing the mining industry had polluted the water and hence ‘development’ was against taking care of the earth. Lack of clean water in a neighbouring country was raising an issue of health in South Africa. The issue of water raises apparently contradictory claims.

The South African professor passionately defended a vision that took a balanced view between those who defend anti-poverty programmes and those who talk of creation per se. We need to integrate these two approaches: the need to give justice and dignity to people and to take care of the earth (water). Both ‘justice to the poor’ and justice to the earth were two complementary sides of one whole. We Christian need to read together the account of creation in Genesis and the account of the people’s liberation in Exodus.

This is going to be a forceful debate at this pre-Forum because it is a debate that is considerably weakening the forces of those who are committed to fight for both.





Leonardo Boff ao Fórum Mundial de Teologia e Libertação

23 01 2009

O programa de quinta feira, 22 de janeiro 2009, do Fórum Mundial de Teologia e Libertação começou às 9:00h, com uma linda “Celebração da Água.” Com cantos, instrumentação, poesias e danças, os jovens apresentadores de Belém introduziram o tema do Fórum: Água, Terra, Teologia – para outro mundo possível.

 

leonardoboffaEm seguida, o Professor Leonardo Boff falou a novecentas pessoas durante uma hora e dez minutos, integrando seu conhecimento teológico com as conclusões de cientistas sobre a situação atual do planeta, como também de pensadores de várias tradições, incluindo a sabedoria do povo indígena. Ele colocou a platéia diante da “crise” que a humanidade está vivendo, que facilmente poderá se tornará uma “tragédia” – de falta de água, de alimentação e de energia – e da extinção da espécie humana.

 

Referindo-se a Ghandi, lembrou que a terra poderá sustentar os filhos e filhas aos quais ela dá vida; mas não poderá sustentar uma humanidade que vive nos padrões de consumismo. E se a Teologia da Liberação enxergava os efeitos da ganância no sistema econômico, a crise atual exige a percepção dos danos feitos pelo ser humano ao próprio planeta e nos chama à construção de uma nova cultura de solidariedade e de colaboração. Em tudo isso, estaremos sempre diante daquele Mistério que nosso coração reconhece como nosso Deus.

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