I had a pretty eventful summer which included two presentations on a similar theme of eco theology. It is a topic I have been interested in for a long time, and I have been able to spend some focused time to research, write, and present on the topic. My thoughts continue to be refined as I continue the process. Several essays will come out in the next two years related to the topic. In doing this work, I have consciously tried to read the scripture in conversation with my indigeneity. The result, I hope, is an intercultural reading of the text that is more faithful to the meaning than common western understandings.
The first presentation was at the 2019 NAIITS symposium at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto on June 8. It was the final plenary session, and was titled GraceLand: The Land as Relational Gift in the Bible. The abstract for the paper was as follows:
The Mosaic covenant recognized and affirmed a triangulation of relationship between Deity, the land, and the community. This triangulation was not a new invention, but rather the lived reality of ancient peoples. The focus of the covenant was 1) who occupied the place of deity within the triangulation, and 2) how the occupant of the place of deity would reorder the relationships within the triangulation. The resulting covenant was one which recognized these relationships as reciprocal and the land as the gracious gift from Yahweh. The reciprocity of relationships within the triangulation involved responsibilities from each member of the triangulation to one another. Within this triangulation, the land often occupies the median place, such that to honor the land was to honor Yahweh, and the blessing of the land by Yahweh was to bless the covenant community. This triangulation construct is not dissolved in the New Testament, but is assumed in a variety of ways. First, the widespread Jewish belief that Israel was still in exile was predicated upon their relationship to the land, namely that they have not yet been gifted once again with the proper relationship to the land – some Jewish groups believed it would be the messiah who would do this work. Second, the concept of the good news of Jesus as grace-gift for all nations as nations brings with it the Old Testament triangulation, showing that part of the work of the good news is for Christ-as-Creator to fill the deity space within the triangulation and thus re-order and re-orient peoples to himself and to their place of inhabitance. In this way, Israel’s relationship in the triangulation as it was meant to be is both fulfilled in Jesus and serves as a model for all the nations of the world as they re-orient their triangulated relationship with Christ-the-Creator in the deity’s space.
I mostly hit the target of the abstract, though I ended up focusing less on the latter half of the abstract. You can watch the entirety of the presentation below.
The next presentation was a plenary session at RZIM’s annual summit. It was a real privilege to have RZIM in our little town of Wolfville, and it was so great to have RZIM tread into some new territory. The theme was “All Nature Sings” and the summit included Ravi himself being here one night.
The other reason that I really enjoyed this presentation is that I got to tag-team with Terry LeBlanc. Terry is special friend and mentor, and is a widely sought-after speaker and teacher. It was a privilege to share the stage. The title of the presentation was The Land Takes Care of Us.