The Church will only be ecological if it is feminist

There is a feminist critique of Christian dogma that is interesting to hear, especially at a time when the Catholic Church is striving to theologically confront the ecological crisis. Because both causes, the feminine and the ecological, are closely related, as a new generation of Christian thinkers argues. 
With the encyclical Laudato si’, the Church has a powerful text to think about the ecological challenge in religious terms. It strongly exposes the culture of sobriety and moderation, the respect due to our common home, the Earth, and the close link that must be established between ecology and the fight against poverty. In this regard, the Church is ahead of the many evangelicals, notably in the U.S., who continue with their fixation of a final Armageddon to the point of rejoicing that the climate crisis can accelerate it. Among them, climate denial abounds. 
The encyclical also takes an important step in responding to the accusation made by Lynn White, an American Presbyterian and a great admirer of Franciscanism, in a famous 1967 article. According to this author, Christianity has constructed a theology of man’s domination over nature. God, in his absolute transcendence, created man in his image and likeness and put nature at his full service (Gen 1:26-28). White sees here the roots of the ecological crisis, since man has used without limits the privilege that has been granted to him. “Man,” he says, “participates greatly in the transcendence of God in nature.” Hence, on the other side of the coin, an unparalleled scientific and technical development to exploit natural resources to the fullest. Faced with this “despotic” interpretation of the biblical text, to use the word of J. Baird Callicott, the encyclical opposes the interpretation of “good administration”, which can also be read in books 2 and 3 of Genesis. Here, the vision is that of a nature that has been entrusted to us by God, to which we must be faithful and careful stewards. For many (see Pablo Ortúzar, Román Guridi), this second reading is enough to unseat the first.
But the advance is weak because, even as a benevolent administrator, man remains in a position of arrogant dominance over natural resources, to the point of reaching what is called the Anthropocene. The encyclical proposes another line of argument, relying on the figure of Francis of Assus: here nature, in its infinite beauty and diversity, is seen as a hymn to the glory of God, a nature of which we are an intimate part. Global ecological thinking is possible here. The “I protect the forest” becomes, in this Franciscan vision, “I am part of the forest and he and I protect each other.” With this idea that nature becomes the whole, an immanentism long forgotten in Catholic theology is restored, at the risk of angering certain conservative circles who see in it a dangerous slide towards the abandonment of all divine transcendence.
The double rupture caused by Christianity
Is this enough? No, says a growing stream of thinkers who are both feminists and Christians. Here we will consider the leading position of the young French philosopher Émilie Hache. According to this current, it is not by injecting St. Francis into the dogma that the Church is possible to free itself from White’s criticisms. If the encyclical was able to show that a battered land is also an affront to the poor, the same bridge must be established between ecology and feminism. To do this, it is not enough to give women their rightful place in the government of the Church and to break with an ageing patriarchy. What is at issue is Christian dogma and its worldview. The mistreatment of women, as Hache argues, is part of nature’s predation. Let’s see why.
We speak of the Mosaic rupture as the greatest change in the religious conception: monotheism is born. The God of Moses is the God of the Jewish people, distinct and compatible with the gods of other peoples. Later, the conception of a single God, the God of the universe, will emerge, eliminating all polytheism (see Thomas Römer or Jan Hassman). He will become an almighty God, the figure of a monarchical and masculine monotheism. In it, man, a man, occupies the role of viceroy in his relationship with nature.
By introducing Jesus to this theological plane, however, modern research sees a break of importance withThe account of his passion is simply the theological reappearance of the ancient myths common to many pagan religions of the Middle East. Jesus can be seen as a minor god who dies and reappears, and thus be the avatar, and last in line, of many gods or goddesses, such as Dumusi, Dionysius or Osiris, who had a similar adventure.
But there are, according to Hache, two significant differences between these gods and Jesus:

Jesus was not born strictly of a woman, He was begotten by the Father. Mary is, at most, a surrogate mother. A woman gives birth, not begets (the word ‘beget’ is significantly ‘to father’ in English). The other gods mentioned are always linked to a woman, sister, mother or lover, Innana, Isis, Ariadne, Pandora, without forgetting the myth of Lilith, the first goddess. The God of Judeo-Christianity is stubbornly masculine. Regarding this God, female figures play a minor role.
The gods of paganism are all associated with fertility. Their world is strongly linked to agrarian societies, marked by the rhythm of the seasons. Jesus, on the other hand, is not in a relationship of regeneration, in a continuous cycle of death followed by rebirth. Jesus dies only once and rises forever. And he does it to redeem the sins of the world, that is, to save people. His return to life is no longer a mark of the fertile earth, but serves to escape from it forever.

Like the Mosaic rupture, the Christic rupture ratifies the disappearance of the sacred feminine at the same time as the domination of man over nature. It is significant that God is personified in a man, Jesus, and not in an animal or a volcano or any other natural element… nor of course in a woman. It no longer seeks to adapt to the cycle of a nature of which it is a part, a matrix nature; it seeks, leaving aside nature, to save the soul. There is no longer an annual sacrifice, marked by the harvest cycle; sacrifice is forever. Christian eschatology draws an arrow of one-way time, in which the human being must, at the end of a rectilinear path, merge with the divine, an idea that we see twin to that of the continuous path of progress, whether technical or spiritual. In this sense, we agree with Lynn White’s observation that Christianity, by its anthropocentrism, is the religion of progress, including scientific progress, but a progress that leads to enslaving nature. 
By contrast, paganism emphasized fecundity, the continuous regeneration through life and death. This paganism, which preceded Christianity, coexisted with it for a long time. For example, the Cult of the Mysteries (Eleusis) remained very active for much of Antiquity, as did sects linked to apocryphal Christian texts or kabbalah. It was Constantine who retook the reins, linking Christian worship with the power of the state, to put an end to them. In the same way, the Christian colonization of America wiped out many cults that expressed the same kind of relationship between man and nature.
Forgetting the feminine part, associated with life and fertility, it is not surprising that the Church has despised sexuality. St. Paul, who saw the apocalypse coming very quickly, advised against marriage to the new converts of the time: it was no longer the time. Moreover, the blood of Christ, so important in the rite of the Eucharist, is a masculine blood. Female blood, on the other hand, was long considered dirty and impure, as it was associated with menstruation and childbirth (to the point that for a long time the mother was not allowed to attend the baptism of her newborn child). Instead, this blood, as well as the female sex, were exposed in certain pre-Christian cults. Hence, in Christianity nature is no longer a fertile matrix, but an object made available to man.
There are, of course, exceptions in the biblical texts. In these there is also the notion of continuous generation in the cycle of life, for example, in the expression of St. John, the most apocalyptic of the evangelists: “Truly I say to you: if the grain of wheat fallen on the ground does not die, it is left alone; but if he dies, he bears much fruit” (Jn, 12, 24). 
To achieve complete ecological change, feminists say, the Church must give a strong theological response that goes beyond the encyclical. The consequences can be disturbing. At the very least, it must refresh its dogma of original sin and its corollary of the Last Judgment, of which less and less is heard. It must marry the notion of salvation with that of regeneration. It would be dangerous, in the face of the ecological crisis, to return to a millenarian discourse, of the end of the world, and restoreThus smed eschatology to its most antiquated form. The Church must be open to the contribution that pre-Christian cultures can give for what they can contribute, both in ecological and gender terms. This should be possible in countries like Chile that have native cultures related to the cycles of nature. A second, even bolder step would be to revise the terms that express God’s Trinitarian dogma. In this concept it should be possible to integrate the feminine as it did, for example, the cult of Isis/Osiris.”
A more realistic proposal would be to enrich the concept of the Eucharist: more than the blood of the Covenant, more than a voucher for eternal life, it could underline its more earthly and Dionysian dimension. She also lies in nature, in wine, in a similar way to Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine.
Should we follow our feminists to this point? This is a subject of debate, but a debate that must take place if Christianity is to be a religion in full harmony with the ecological challenge and, therefore, with its time. 

The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.

Original source in Spanish

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