Despite the scriptures and heritage of the restored gospel, Mormons are not generally considered by themselves or others to be environmentalists. Part of this has to do with American politics and the unfortunate association of environmental concerns with liberal politics. I would prefer to think that conservatives can value conservation, that prudent use and preservation for future generations can overcome the desire for current production and profit.
Despite this political polarization of the proper use the earth and her resources, the Church has begun to quietly reassert its moral position on environmental stewardship.
Not long after Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Seventy spoke at the Stegner Symposium on Religion and the Environment about “Righteous Dominion and Compassion for the Earth,” the Church Newsroom created a webpage devoted to Environmental Stewardship and Conservation. The page continues to be updated with more content.
The newsroom page is also becoming more accessible to members. When it was first launched, in order to find the page, the searcher had to go the the Newsroom and search through the topic pages. Now, a search on lds.org for “environment” gives the Environmental Stewardship and Conservation page in the top results.
The latest move on the environmental front is the production of a beautiful, 94 second spot on the Mormon Channel. In this short piece, the LDS Church moves the discussion of care for the environment away from a partisan, divisive debate and into the space where we all live, the common realm of experience for progress, growth, and importantly, beauty and joy.
Watch the video Our Home here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGxYvos1DMw.
“The state of the human soul and the environment are interconnected, with each influencing the other.”
(Cross posted at ldsearthstewardship.org)
Also, just for fun, I clicked on the transcript button for the video. This is bit of accidental poetry is what came up:
the place in which we live there every human is going on
for every linesman there every motions film
where in every circumstance is experienced on
her is our home
the earth is much more than a man
much more than anything to consume
the stated the human soul in the environment and interconnectedness
with each affecting and influencing the other
is intended to be pleasing
to my mind
and her spins we depend on it
when the arthritis
me kind tunes
our responsibilities to take care cherish
beauty of God’s creations
and if we preserve the special places in there unspoiled stay
you once I’m
completely with each other
That is a fun arrangement, Rachel. I appreciated the video. The division, as always, comes down to public policy approaches and philosophy. Personally, I see secret combinations, power-seeking and coercion as greater offenses to the Earth’s Creator than an occasional accidental oil spill. However, it is easy to knee jerk to far in either direction when we are frustrated.
I miss the days of my youth where environmentalism stood for reducing pollution and protecting endangered species. Now it is more about control and collusion with renewable companies…
Thank you for taking the time to post this. I wouldn’t have noticed it otherwise. Thanks.
Sorry to make two comments out of this …
The video is worth the click folks. Very well done.
The Earth is our birthright and we are not Esau. Not only do the scriptures teach that the Earth has a soul, there are clues that Earth may be more significant that we imagine. For example, the North Star. It’s either a rare freak of astrophysics or God put a bright star dead center on the Earth’s rotational axis. Nobody arranges a galaxy for an insignificant rock.
Please read this and report back:
My mom loves nature; loves gardening, is a very avid hiker and cyclist. Talks a lot about appreciating and loving the beauty of the earth. But boy does she hate environmentalists; sees them as people who are only out to make life unnecessarily more difficult.
One of my very first memories is of my mom making the comment that the polar ice caps are a blemish on the earth and that Christ would not come back until they are gone. Does anybody have any idea where should could have picked that idea up?
I love the video and am filled with wonder at how beautiful this creation is. That video gets the same rosy eyed treatment (lacking “warts and all”) of the earth as our church history gets though. Our earth also sends forth terrible earthquakes and tsunamis that kill hundreds of thousands. Cancer causing and immune diseases literally seep from the ground in some places. Storms, famines, hurricanes that desolate cities and lives. Volcanoes that consume everything in their path. And that’s not even touching on the wildlife or disease that can consume innocent humans or other animal life with the same indifferent voracity with which we impugn the avid hunters who nearly exterminated the American Bison.
So Earth is indeed beautiful, but that video gives the notion that if only we don’t spoil the earth it would be a Garden of Eden. You might as well portray Joseph Smith as a perfect man who translated by the light of a candle an curtain ;)
I have an inside source in the LDS PR department. The Unnamed Source has leaked to me that the Church is now working on a “Survival of the Fittest” video. Maybe you’d like to consult on that video? ;-)
Seriously though, if you had 90 seconds to convey how your faith influences your understanding of man’s place in the natural world, how would you fill your 90 seconds?
I’ve never heard the ice caps hate before. I’ll ask around about it.
The word “environment” (and its derivatives) is a very polarizing in American culture now. I was frankly surprise that the Newsroom page featured the word so prominently. But the video, with its call to be stewards and not owners of the earth, has a message that we can all get behind. The consequentialist in me cares more that we do good things, that we care for our stewardship and use our resources prudently, than the reasons for those actions.
I agree very much that we should be a steward of the environment. I think the approach to the parable of the talent should inform our stewardship. Just taking it and hiding it (preserving it’s supposed unspoiled qualities) is not how the Lord defined stewardship in his parable. I’m also not suggesting we pollute it, but our discourse does tend to get a little rosey eyed the way we look at the environment, because in our modern condition generations before us have mastered so much of the earth in a way that allows us to enjoy it without serious risk of death.
We have an interesting split in LDS discourse here, DQ. On the one hand is the imperative to active management of personal property as a means of self-sufficiency. President Kimball’s address in 1976 tells us to plant fruit trees, garden, repair our fences, and paint our buildings. In that case, we actively act to increase the productivity and beauty of the property in our personal stewardship. We care for our immediate environment, and spread out from there to do service in our neighborhoods and communities by helping neighbors with their lawns and shoveling sidewalks, cleaning up cemeteries and parks and so on. This does not tend to be a controversial issue for us because we don’t tend to think of it as “environmental,” although how individuals choose to care for property and use resources has a large collective impact on the greater environment.
The other side of the coin involves wilderness preservation, which I was surprised to see Elder Nash call for in his talk last year. The main justification for preservation is keep some places open for human encounters with the majesty of God’s creation, to be awed at the grandeur, and feel inspired by His love. There is a strong spiritual tradition, both scriptural and modern, of going away from the tamed areas of human civilization to clear the mind and open the soul.
The problem comes in how such wild spaces were created by political bodies, and how they continue to be preserved and managed. That has become a divisive political and economic question.
Rachael, I agree with your characterization. I guess I’d just say it might be a bit naive to assume you can enjoy a wilderness area without putting a road through or up to it, and trails through it, etc. Or even that you should leave the wilderness alone and not be a steward who manages it. Unmanaged forests are more prone to disease and fires. Preserving doesn’t mean neglecting, but it also doesn’t mean over-utilizing.
Balancing various goods is common when trying to follow the gospel, We need to be generous toward those in need, and we need to cultivate self-reliance rather than dependence, Trying to made all of reality fit a rigid, universal policy is an ideological approach more than a religious one. I see no great difficulty in both maintaining my garden in a high state of cultivation and in leaving the riparian zone along the creek more wild.