Green Jesus and a Changed Perspective

Kassidy Crown

A Personal Commentary on the Day of Common Learning


For most, The Day of Common Learning may be an excuse to sleep in. For others, it is required attendance for a class grade. The latter was my case, and since I had never been to a Day of Common Learning before, I was unsure of what exactly to expect.

The only thing I did know was that I going into this experience with a bit of bias against it. I had never taken much heed of what these days were even about and I did not particularly care for the idea of getting up early.

Dr. A.J. Swoboda’s keynote address on “Green Jesus: Embracing a Sustainable Faith” quickly changed that.

I was raised in a household that, while religious, did not necessarily speak loudly about God, nor did we speak loudly about the environment. Many of my experiences growing up outside my home did nothing to diminish this relative silence.

They certainly did not address how, as Christians, we can and should care for the environment as a means of worshipping God.

Swoboda’s emphasis on the goodness of creation is an argument that seems to have been a stumbling block for many Christians that I have met. They would argue that because original sin resulted in God cursing the earth, then that has made the earth no longer good.

If the earth is no longer good, and since we do not know when Jesus will return, then why bother caring for the earth, the argument goes.

But as Swoboda so eloquently pointed out, we don’t know when Jesus will return, and if we are to all take this lackadaisical approach to caring for the earth, this can have major health consequences and create a planet that is unfit to live on.

Many of Swoboda’s other comments stuck with me as well. For example, the commentary on selective pro-life practices among conservative Christians seemed very appropriate, considering the political timing.

The necessity of caring for one another and God’s creation is undeniable when looking in Scripture. Yet many pro-life Christians seem to forget Jesus’ call to aid the poor and the refugees.

If we cherry-pick the Bible, can we really call ourselves Christians?

On the other hand, the entirety of the Bible is not meant to be taken literally.

God’s cursing of the earth can be seen as being undone in the new covenant made between God, the earth, Noah and all other living things after the flood. God promises Noah that God will never again destroy the earth with a flood; re-establishing the earth as good within creation.

God uses the sign of a rainbow to show this, stating that whenever a rainbow appears God will remember God’s promise to Noah. God did not have to do this, but God loves creation, and creation is good.

Not everything is literal, and not everything is written in stone.

God’s very first commandment to humankind was to be fruitful and multiply — but also to have dominion over creation. This was not to be seen as a dictatorial dominance of creation, but as the Hebrew verb “radah,” meaning “reign.”

As the Bible depicts, in order to reign well, it is better to be a shepard than a dictator. We are called as followers of Christ to be shepherds of creation, tending to what God has granted us.

These comments and discussions on the convergence of Christianity and sustainability helped to change my perspective on Christianity, as well as the Day of Common Learning.

Before, I had not given much thought about Christians as caretakers of the earth. I certainly never considered taking care of the earth was a part of worshipping God, either. Now, I am able to view Christianity and worshipping God through a creation care lens.

The Day of Common Learning can not only inform us on important, relevant topics, but can help lift us out of potential ignorance and strengthen our faith. I think it is a great opportunity, and students should try to attend at least one during their time here.