As my first post for LDS Earth Stewardship I thought I might explore how I came to think of myself as a ‘steward of the Earth’ and how that relates to my being a latter-day saint. My upbringing was hardly radical, I was raised by devout converts to the church who gave me a sound spiritual footing. Being good parents they also gave me an awareness and respect for the world around me. “Don’t litter” and “Don’t carve your name into a tree”, were taught to me in terms of respect for God’s creation. This respect was re-enforced by many memorable family camping trips and ‘walks in the woods’ where we picked berries, chewed spruce gum and learned to identify various flora and fauna.
Aside from this, I don’t recall being taught anything about eco-systems, conservation or sustainability; the broader topics. Similarly, my involvement in Scouting, through the Church, taught me many outdoor skills but tended to leave them outdoors. We always returned home as if we were exiting the wilderness.
Even as a young person, I was never comfortable with the dominant man/nature dichotomy. I always wondered why ‘pure nature’ would need to be untouched by man. As I grew older I discovered the post Enlightenment notions of ‘systems thinking’, the emerging field of how everything is connected.
In many ways I attribute this innate holistic sensibility to my latter-day saint faith. Knowing what we know about mankind’s divine purpose is the key to understanding how we aught to interact with God’s Earth. He has placed us here as a unique part of creation not simply as observers or consumers of it, but as stewards. If we are to progress beyond this life (or even as a society) we must learn the application of this.
Our’s is a Faith that values physical as much as spiritual, seeks connections that bind generations of the past to those of the future and teaches home-centred living. Within the teachings of the Gospel we are given a whole understanding of life, rather than a simple religious dogma. Earth stewardship is, as I understand it, another part of this whole – about the wise and appropriate interplay between mankind and the Lord’s creations over which He has given us charge.