Friday, June 27, 2008

Why Do We Need Wilderness?

From NCC Eco-Justice Programs

Wilderness is a place where God meets us, sometimes most powerfully. Whether as the site of Moses’ call, the Israelites’ freedom and consecration, the inspiration of prophets, the testing of Jesus, or our own experiences today, wilderness often provides a divine reality check.

One of the gifts of wilderness to Christians is deepening our appreciation for the significance of wilderness stories in the Bible. Wilderness is also an excellent place to reconnect with God—to understand God’s invisible qualities and divine nature from what God has made (Rom 1:20), to be still and appreciate God’s presence (Ps 46:10), and to remember the ways that God provides for us.

Wilderness is a special place for refuge, rest, renewal, and inspiration. For these and other reasons, Christian theologians since antiquity have extolled the “Book of Nature” as a complementary resource for knowing God, reinforcing and enhancing what Christians can learn of God through scripture.

But in contrast to biblical times or the early period of the American frontier, the status of wilderness is changing. Wilderness no longer looms at the edges of all our habitations, no longer "“threatens” to overtake our pre-modern efforts to withstand the elements, survive and flourish.

Instead, wilderness itself is now threatened on all edges by suburban development, resource extraction, and even in some cases by irresponsible recreational use. Our wilderness lands and the national system of public lands that supports them remain an impressive part of our national legacy, but preserving and maintaining that legacy is a challenge.

The character of the American people and indeed of the biblical story would not be the same without wilderness. From Moses to Daniel Boone, biblical and American pioneers alike were shaped and tested by their experiences in wild nature. We cherish this heritage and its rich blessings, whether as a shaper of identity or as a source of beauty, recreation, refinement, and inspiration. What is wilderness? Visit this eco-justice site for a definition.

As we realize this earth was given to us to steward, we must take action to preserve that heritage for future generations. Get more information on campaigns and initiatives.

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