In 8th century BCE, Hosea, a minor Prophet of the Hebrew Bible, offered poetic insights on the nature of human existence and its role in God's creation. Walter Brueggemann, a Sojourners contributing editor and professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, examines the Book of Hosea and how it lends itself to the current discussion of climate change.
Examining both the interplay between commerce and our view of the world, Hosea emphasised the impact that Israel's 'business model' and its violation of our 'steadfast love.' Hosea proclaimed, “There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Labeling Israel's actions as contradictory to 'neighbourly solidarity,' Hosea decries the 'exploitative acquisition of wealth to override relational reality.'
Walter Brueggemann examination is a fascinating reminder of how scripture written almost 3,000 years ago might offer keen insights to current issues of climate change and environmental degradation. It's easy to become fixed in what we think the economy and our relationship with the planet might/should look like, but this hermeneutic exercise is a great reminder that our behaviors have and will continue to change.
Walter Brueggemann | Sojourners
When we consider the crisis of climate change, many of us swing back and forth between a narrative of despair in which “there is nothing we can do” and a narrative of hope that affirms that good futures are available when we act responsibly. Surely Laudato Si’, the encyclical released by Pope Francis last spring, has given enormous impetus to the narrative of possibility, summoning us to act intentionally and systemically about climate change.
The issue of climate change is a recent one, but the matter of revivifying the creation is a very old one in faith. In ancient Israel, as now, care for creation required a vision of an alternative economy grounded in fidelity.
The economy of ancient Israel, a small economy, was controlled and administered by the socio-political elites in the capital cities of Samaria in the north and Jerusalem in the south. Those elites clustered around the king and included the priests, the scribes, the tax collectors, and no doubt other powerful people. Those urban elites extracted wealth from the small, at-risk peasant-farmers who at best lived a precarious subsistence life. The process of extraction included taxation and high-interest rates on loans. These were financial arrangements that drove many of the peasants into hopeless debt so that they were rendered helpless in the economy.