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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Thursday, May 16, 2024: we're fundamentally interrelated with each other. So when we care for the earth, we're not 'up here' caring for creation 'down there.'

Thursday, May 16, 2024

we're fundamentally interrelated with each other. So when we care for the earth, we're not 'up here' caring for creation 'down there.'

Elizabeth Johnson has spent her entire life — or at least her decadeslong theological career — trying to get people to think differently about God, beyond the patriarchal image of an authoritarian old man. Her award-winning 1992 book She Who Is is credited for bringing attention to the need for feminine images of the Divine.


Now Johnson is again broadening her view of God, in the hopes that it will help Christians see their connection to nature and the need to save it. Her new book, Come, Have Breakfast: Meditations on God and the Earth, explores God as a lover of the Earth who is in relationship with creation.


"We have this whole divide between body and soul, matter and spirit," Johnson told EarthBeat. "But God as creator brings in, in an organic way, everything that's material, that's bodily, that's made of flesh. That includes ourselves, sexuality, the need for food."


Johnson is a Sister of St. Joseph and one of the most prominent theologians in the United States, perhaps best known for the U.S. bishops' public criticism of her book, Quest for the Living God in 2011. In 2018, she retired from teaching at Fordham University and is now distinguished professor of theology emerita there.


Her new book's title refers to Jesus' words to the disciples during a post-Resurrection appearance near the end of John's Gospel. It reminded Johnson that Jesus enjoyed material things and was often taking care of people's material needs, like feeding them.


But why aren't there any paintings or churches named for the Jesus of Cooking Breakfast? The short answer: patriarchy.


"Who cooks breakfast for most people of the world? Still, it's women," Johnson said. "Here you have Jesus doing women's work, and that's why it doesn't get much attention."


"Come, Have Breakfast" by feminist theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson features 30 meditations on God and the Earth.


But a God intimately involved in the material world has implications for how we treat it, Johnson said. It's why the book — which is a series of 30 meditations, each beginning and ending with a Scripture reference — is ultimately "a God book," as she says.


Taking care of creation is not just "one more issue" that can be seen as extrinsic to our own being, she said. Instead, it involves our understanding of God, of ourselves as made in the image and likeness of God, and of creation, which reflects the goodness of God.


With a vision of humans as part of a community of creation and of God in relationship to that community, environmental justice "is not just something you take up a collection for," she says.


Johnson also sees Jesus' death on the cross as "in solidarity not only with humans who die, but with every creature who dies, every single bird that falls to the ground."


Yet, for Johnson, it's not just the image of God and Jesus that need expansion but also how humans view their relationship to the rest of creation. The "hierarchy of being," which draws on Greek philosophical beliefs that divide the world into matter and spirit, ranking creation according to how much "matter" or "spirit" it has, is problematic, she says.


This hierarchy, which Christianity adopted, puts rocks at the bottom, followed by plants, then animals, then humans, then angels and finally God. These beliefs have led to humans seeing other creatures as having only instrumental value — only to be used — rather than intrinsic value.

Instead of a pyramid with humans near the top, Johnson sees a circle of kinship among the community of creation. "It's not leveling out differences [or] saying we're all the same. Clearly we're not," she said. "But we're fundamentally interrelated with each other. So when we care for the earth, we're not 'up here' caring for creation 'down there.' … We care for one another as members of the same community."

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Reminder for tomorrow, Friday the 17th of May:

Announcement Upcoming Talk on Palestine & Israel

at Knox/Thanksgiving Church

Date: Friday, May 17, 2024

Time: 6:00pm

We have been asked to supply refreshments -- cookies or brownies to share with those who attend. So far no word on how many people are expected. the folks at Knox are handling the drinks -- coffee, tea etc.

Here's a letter from Pastor Janet from Knox & Thanksgiving which she sent out to several other churches in the area.


Dear Friends,


We are writing to extend you a friendly invitation. The Knox Presbyterian / Thanksgiving Lutheran faith community, in connection with the Emmaus Community (Sonoma County), will be sponsoring a talk, “Roots and Reality of the Middle East Conflict,” with speakers Therese Mughannam and Sam Tuttelman. The talk will take place on Friday, May 17th, at 6:00 pm at Knox/Thanksgiving Church, 1650 W. Third Street, in Santa Rosa.


We look forward to this special opportunity to learn more about Middle East history, about peacekeeping and faith, and about the personal experiences of our speakers (see their bios, below). We are not publicizing in the larger community but are extending this invitation to you and your people for a thoughtful, intimate gathering. A small reception will follow the talk.


We’d appreciate a response if you will be attending, and if you’ll let us know how many people from your faith community will join us.

Many blessings,

Pastor Janet Blair


Speaking on May 17th:

Therese Mughannam is a Palestinian American who has been telling the story of Palestinians for about 30 years in Sonoma County and the Bay Area, drawing from personal family stories and experiences in and about Palestine.


Sam Tuttelman is a retired social worker who has lived in Sonoma County since 1968. He is a second-generation Jewish American who has come to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and dignity.

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