Returning to the Path of Sacred Attachment | Sojourners

Returning to the Path of Sacred Attachment

I’ll keep on loving this holy, physical world.
Illustration of an autumnal leaf overlaid by yellow hands
Illustration by Matt Chase

“THIS WORLD IS not my home / I’m just passing through / My treasures are laid up / Somewhere beyond the blue.” This old gospel song summed up my approach to the physical world as a young Christian.

Coming to faith in the Bible Belt of the United States, I confused admonitions to “not belong to the world” (John 15:19) and “walk not according to the flesh” (Romans 8:4) with a blanket statement to shun physicality. Later, when I discovered the contem-platives and monastics, their stories of fasting and asceticism seemed to reinforce the idea that detachment from the material world is the most holy path.

But in a time when some Bible-thumping Christians respond to deforestation and species extinction with a shrug and say, “It’s all going to burn anyway,” I reject these interpretations. “The world” and “the flesh” that Jesus and Paul had in mind are not the earth and our bodies. They are, rather, human-made social hierarchies and oppressive, extractive economies. Do not belong to these. But do belong to the gooseberries, the crickets, the soil, and the gurgling creeks.

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