We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

North Country Theology

The North Country (in blue)
Modern, Newtonian Christian theology begins with God and proceeds systematically from the divine to the mundane.  The human condition is an important downstream concern, but one that is somewhat distant from the headwaters of the Trinitarian Deity.  Modern theology is a book theology, a professional theology.

Postmodern theology begins with where the theologian is and proceeds from the human condition toward God. Place and people matter a good deal, and it is these things that determine the scope, direction, themes, and content of the theological enterprise.  Modern theology starts with God and works its way to humanity; postmodern theology starts with humanity and works back toward God.  In this mode, theology is black, feminine, Asian, tribal, African, and even Korean and Karen.  Postmodern theology is diverse and local.  It thinks a good deal about culture.

So, here is a fact:  54.3% of Lewis County, NY, falls under the category of "Forested/Wild."  And another fact: some 72% of the county's residents live in rural areas.  Many of those living in rural areas live in or near "Forested/Wild." Lewis County, as a part of New York's North Country, is also cold and snowy even in these days of global warming.  Summer comes late and is relatively cool.

These facts imply a theology.  North Country Theology.  The symbol of this theology is a sound, the sound of the loon haunting the darkening evenings of lakes and forest.  The Spirit blows across the lakes and forest in several guises from gentle almost motionless morning breezes to water lashing, tree bending storms.  It is a creation theology, a natural theology, a biological theology, an environmental theology.  It works from the "second book" of divine revelation, God's Creation.  It is not, so far as I know, a theology that has been written up, and I'm sure there aren't any seminary courses on it; but it already exists in places like Lewis County in the lives of faithful Christians who experience God in the "Forested/Wild."  North Country Theology.