About a week ago, Christian Twitter exploded. One would have thought Jesus had returned or that Christians had learned God had intended for the Gentiles to keep kosher, and thus, no more bacon cheeseburgers for us. But no, it all started with tweet from Union Seminary:
Today in chapel, we confessed to plants. Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?
–@UnionSeminary, 12:23 PM, 17 Sept 2019
I wasn’t going to write about this, but I just couldn’t let it go. I don’t agree with every theological position of Union, but they didn’t deserve what happened last week. The media, secular and Christian, and Twitter, again secular and Christian, attacked Union. As soon as the tweet was sent, the jokes, the jabs, and the accusations of idolatry, paganism, and “there go the liberals again” started. Usually, those reactions wouldn’t bother me. I’ve seen it all before, but this time I couldn’t shake it.
This week, some of the same mouths who were decrying this confession were praising Greta Thunberg. The same tweeters who said this was silly, were waiting with expectation for the UN climate summit to come out with bold promises. Some of the same folks who think Union doesn’t know it’s theology, proved that they don’t know their theology by ridiculing their kindred and by showing they don’t understand true repentance and forgiveness.
We have harmed this planet. As Christians, when we break relationships and miss the mark, that is when we sin, we must repent. We must admit that we have sinned, turn away from the wrong we have done, seek to make amendment of our own life, and make restitution where possible. And the only the one whom we have wronged can forgive us. God offers atonement and reconciliation through divine love, but it is the other who must forgive our sins. I think Union Seminary has figured out something profoundly true: We have harmed the planet, and we must repent. We must make amendment of life.
One of the best continuing education courses I ever took was a session on hearing confessions by Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE. He repeated time and again: If you don’t think they’re serious about repentance, you do not have to offer absolution. After the jokes, the glib remarks, and the harassment thrown at Union Seminary, will our kindred forgive us for judging them? If we were making confession to the plants, the planet, and the whole of God’s creation, would they offer us absolution?