Theology for a planet in crisis
In Nature Praising God: Towards a Theology of the Natural World », internationally-acclaimed Irish theologian Dermot A. Lane develops a new theology of nature in which earth-care is integral to Christian faith. He argues for the retrieval of the forgotten biblical insight that nature praises God. It is his second book with Messenger Publications.
Within theology, the language of ‘subduing the earth’ and of humankind having ‘dominion’ over every living thing has been replaced with the theology articulated in Laudato Si’ and its concept of duty of care for the earth. Dr Lane says we need to flip the way we regard nature–traditionally as a resource for human needs–and embrace a new way of praising God through an appreciation of and care for the myriad of life forms on earth.
Referring to a new narrative of nature as a living community in chapter four, Dr Lane writes:
The community of creation is a radically theocentric community, in contrast to the domination model, which has been predominantly anthropocentric. The uniqueness of human and non-human beings within the community of creation derives from their relationships within the plan of God. This community of creation recognises and respects the essential role that nature plays within the larger universe.
The book is divided into seven chapters dealing with the retrieval of a lost conversation from biblical texts, biblical and theological commentators, a new narrative, pneumatology and Christology, and integration in the service of liturgy. It also includes an epilogue, appendices and select bibliography.
Margaret Daly-Denton, who has written the foreword to the book, says:
“Dermot Lane is a prophetic leader inspiring the Church’s growing ecological consciousness… he thinks outside the anthropocentric box to work out a fresh and theologically rich understanding of the natural world.”
Written during the Covid-19 pandemic when many people developed a new relationship with nature, the book poses questions such as: Is God present in nature? Is communion with God in nature possible? How can we bring the God of creation, the God of history and the God we worship in Sunday liturgies together in living out our Christian lives?
Terrence W. Tilley, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Fordham University in New York, says:
“In this clear and readable book, Dr Lane sketches how ecological awareness can, and should, help us to reshape Catholic theology and worship for living together on a planet in crisis. Highly recommended.”
Dr Lane has recently written another book on caring for the earth with Messenger Publications entitled Theology and Ecology in Dialogue: The Wisdom of Laudato Si’ ».
He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin and former President of Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Other publications include The Experience of God, Keeping Hope Alive, and Stepping Stones to Other Religions.
Nature Praising God: Towards a Theology of the Natural World is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications and is priced at €14.95/£12.95.