Many may recognize the name Lynn White, Jr., who was a prominent scholar of medieval technology and best-known for his 1967 essay, “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis,” in which he shed light on some of the ways his own religious tradition — Christianity — was partly culpable for environmental problems. He blamed, rightly, the inappropriate emphasis of the dominion model of creation, according to which Christians would read the bible and the tradition in such a way as to justify human sovereignty over all non-human creation (an interpretation that Pope Francis rejected once-and-for-all in Laudato Si). White wrote other essays, though few have read his expansive corpus. In one essay titled, “Christians and Nature,” published in the journal Pacific Theological Review (1975), White makes a powerful, even poetic, statement that aligns so well with the Franciscan vision of creation that I wanted to share it with you all here.
“We are not alone. We human beings are here in exactly the same sense, and for the same purpose, that the sea urchins, banana trees, icebergs, quartz crystals, asteroids, interstellar hydrogen clouds and astronomical black holes are here. Our purpose, and that of all our fellow creatures, is, as the Psalmist so often proclaims, to praise our Creator with all of our being.”