Why We’re Building an Ark

By Isaac Luria 9-19-2014
Image courtesy Isaac Luria
Image courtesy Isaac Luria

On Sunday, Noah's Ark will be rolling through the streets of New York City.

Powered by a bio-diesel truck and paid for by faith-rooted climate activists, it will drive on Manhattan’s West Side alongside hundreds of thousands of climate activists calling for climate justice.

The ark appeared in a collective dream with other faith-rooted activists and organizers about how our wisdom traditions could speak to this urgent moment with radical creativity and dramatic flair.

The same old calls for action aren’t getting through. We don’t have much time to act, yet our world leaders lurch from crisis to crisis while the frog slowly boils in the pot. We are living through one of the greatest extinction in our planet’s history. And even if we did survive the Earth’s death by some technological miracle, what kind of life would that be?

We must help people see that climate disruption is real and that there are solutions. We need to help the media and our political leaders see this movement as truly multiracial, multigenerational, multifaith, and of many economic backgrounds.

We know too that a culture that disrespects and enslaves its land and living creatures will inevitably disrespect human beings, too. Healing the disease of domination means a spiritual re-acquaintance with the world that surrounds and sustains us, and letting the Earth guide us in how to love and respect one another.

Shifting the worldview and culture that endorses the disease of domination requires the technology of faith. This is more than a political transformation; it is a spiritual one.

By pursuing environmental justice as a spiritual awakening, we can spark and sustain irresistible communities of resistance that will work to heal us as individuals, as communities, and the world. With new eyes, we can let the false divisions between indigenous people’s rights, economic justice, racial justice, gender justice, and environmental justice fall away.

It was in this spirit that this modern-day ark was born.

With the ark, and as people of faith, we’ll be calling on those at the People’s Climate March on Sunday and those watching around the world to think of themselves as modern-day Noahs. In the biblical story, Noah is called to steward God’s creation through the flood as two-by-two. All that creeps and grows is brought into the ark.

Today, the ark is the planet Earth, holding all of creation’s stretching shoots and beating hearts, and we are called to steward God’s creation by caring for the Earth, and healing our future.

And like Noah and all the modern-day prophets, we may resist our call and destiny to become stewards of God’s creation. God and God’s people may have to cajole us, call us out, move us out of a stuck place so that we can realize our true calling to steward creation. We may have to help our fellow human beings see what they might do to love God’s creation and each other.

As a person of faith, I know that my people have contributed their own special stamp of approval on our immoral, ultimately incorrect separation from the natural world. For this, I repent, and ask forgiveness. This is why I believe faith leaders must take a leading role in undoing the damage, and that’s why we are showing up strong for the March this Sunday. And by God, we’ll have fun doing it!

Perhaps, with the collective cries of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world including those of people of faith, this Sunday will be a moment when the world turned, and God sparked in us the moral imagination to awaken from our destructive sleep walking, and realize God’s call to become our Earth’s loving stewards.

Isaac Luria is Vice President of Auburn Action at Auburn Seminary.

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