One of the most disturbing things about the final document from the Amazonian Synod is the repeated and unchallenged reference to “Mother Earth.”
In the desire to “inculturate the gospel” the synod organizers are infecting the Catholic faith with a religious concept which has always been incontrovertibly pagan and which the Christian faith has always steadfastly resisted. The resistance of Christians to the religion of the Earth Mother was rooted in the same resistance among the Hebrew people.
Why did the Jews first, and then the Christians resist the temptation to worship the Earth Mother? To understand this we have to understand the practice of this religion and the theology-philosophy behind it. First, it should be observed that the religion of the Earth Mother makes sense to the natural man. As a primitive person, if you were going to invent a religion you would quite naturally develop a religion with an Earth Mother and a Sky Father. It all fits quite easily with your observance of the world around you. That the Earth Mother would appreciate the gifts you give her and return the favor by giving you good luck and protection has a certain logic to it. Likewise, you would seek to appease the sky Father who sometimes sends those terrifying lightning bolts and rumbles his displeasure with thunder.
I get it.
This religion is called animism. Let’s be honest. Animism is not simply the noble savage living in harmony with nature. Animism is a primitive and superstitious religion. Furthermore, the natural inclination to offer gifts to the Earth Mother and Sky Father leads to barbaric practices which are well attested in the Old Testament and what we know of all the ancient civilizations. Animism develops into polytheism and then full blown paganism. To think further about the distinctions in these religions read my post here.
Making offerings to the Earth Mother and Sky Father might seem gentle and harmless at first. You just give Mama a bowl of grain or maybe some flowers or a libation of wine. Dance in a circle and meditate for a moment and feel a sense of one ness with the universe. Is that really what primitive religions consist of? Not really.
There’s more to it than that. To the Sky Father you give maybe a goat or a sheep or a pigeon. Why do you do that? Again, there is a kind of inner logic. You want to give Mama or Sky Papa the best gift right? So what is the best thing you have? Your bull, your goat, your sheep. In an agricultural culture they are your currency. But how do you give it to the gods? You cut its throat and let the blood run out. Why is that? Because you have noticed that when the red stuff flows out the animal dies. Therefore the red stuff must be the goat’s life. By letting out the blood you release the life. It flows into Mother Earth and Earth Mama is happy. She has more life.
That makes sense. Then you burn the goat on the altar and the smoke goes up to heaven and Sky Papa gets his share too. The life goes down to Earth Mama and up to Sky Papa.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting. If you think Earth Mama and Sky Papa still need to be appeased even more you think to yourself that they need an even more precious gift of life. What is more precious than the goat, the bull and the pigeon? What is the most precious thing of all? It’s not the life of animals. It’s the life of people. People are better than animals. So you capture your enemies and slit their throats and offer their lives to the gods.
But hang on. What is even more precious than those humans. They were your enemies you didn’t really care much for them anyway. What is really precious to you? It’s your kids. So you decide to slit the throat of your child instead.
Hey presto! Human sacrifice! Child sacrifice!
The Earth Mother is the regenerative power. She is the source of fertility and life, so the other thing the ancients did as part of their devotion to Earth Mother was to go to the temple and have sex with Earth Mother’s temple prostitutes. The pagan orgies and the pagan sacrifice of children are practices littering the record in the Old Testament. The Hebrews are to stand up against this. The prophets are told to destroy the temples, the idols and to drive out the detestable practices and the gods and goddesses they were so worshipping.
“Yes, yes…” I hear you say, “But we are not like that. We don’t condone child sacrifice or rampant orgies as religious devotions to the Earth Mother and Sky Father. Besides, those are jungle people. We’re modern sophisticated people. We don’t do that stuff.”
Really? Let’s analyze this further.
Beneath the pagan practices and beliefs is a substrata of philosophy called panentheism– which might also be called materialistic Deism. In other words, there is a god of sorts, but this “god” is really best understood as the life force or the energy field or whatever vague term you want to use for it. This life force only ever comes to us through the material world. The life force is bigger than we are and this cosmic life force is experienced as the Earth Mother and Sky Father (as well as a multitude of other earth spirits) This philosophy is materialistic in that it only ever encounters the life force within the experience of the material world.
Why do you attempt to please this life force with sacrifices? To get the stuff you want. To get the five “Ps” – Power, Prosperity, Pleasure, Protection and Peace. You give Earth Mama and Sky Papa gifts and they give you the five “Ps”.
You think I am describing the religion of the Amazon? No. This is precisely the religion of the majority of secular or semi-religious Westerners. They too have a vague belief in some sort of Star Wars “force”. They do not specify it in any particular religion, but claim to be “spiritual but not religious”. Uh huh. They too live their lives on the material plane, indulging in sexual relations just as orgiastic as the ancient pagans, and they sacrifice their children too through sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion. What do they seek? The five “Ps”. Just like the pagans, those who live by the fleshy are rewarded with Power, Prosperity, Pleasure, Protection and Peace.
The only difference is that pagans indulge in their orgies and child sacrifice in a conscious offering to their gods whereas the offerings done by secular Westerners is, at least at the present time, unconscious.
Do not imagine that this implicit paganism will be permanent. When the time is right the old gods will make their appearance. Even now Baphomet and Moloch are peeking into our society to see if the time is right, and of course Pachamama has also made her debut in Rome.
Therefore is the Earth my Mother? No. She is not. The Christian and Hebrew tradition is clear. God is the creator of the material world. He put mankind in charge as stewards of creation, but that created order is fallen and is also in need of redemption. Take time to read Romans chapter 8 where St Paul establishes that we are children of the Spirit and not of “the flesh”. When he speaks of “the flesh” he is referring not simply to sins of the flesh, but of a materialistic philosophy and essentially pagan viewpoint. In Romans 8 he writes
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
We therefore live on a plane that is spiritual, but which redeems the created order by the power of Christ’s incarnation:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The flesh is not negated, but redeemed from the inside out.
He goes on to say something extraordinary–that the whole created order also needs to be redeemed by this action.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
This is the Christian vision of our relationship with the created order. We are part of that order’s final redemption. The Earth is therefore not our Mother. She is, perhaps, our Sister, and isn’t it interesting that St Francis–who is hailed as the great saint of the ecoommunism which is being foisted upon us, never calls the earth his mother. At best he refers in his canticle of the Sun to “Sister Mother Earth” and within the whole context of the canticle it is clear that the various aspects of the natural order are understood primarily as “brothers and sisters.”
So who is my mother? The Old Testament actually offers a clear indicator of who my mother is. For Isaiah it is Jerusalem.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.”
12 For this is what the Lord says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice
and you will flourish like grass;
Jerusalem is representative of the people of God and the image of Jerusalem is fulfilled in the New Testament by the church. The Blessed Virgin Mary is also understood to be the fulfillment and embodiment of the Old Testament people of God and in the new covenant Mary is also Mother of the Church.
Therefore who is my mother? Not the Earth, but the Church and Mary Mother of the Church, and the powerful image of Mary the Mother of God–offering her son for the redemption of the world is the true offering that is made–an offering not TO an Earth Mother, but an offering BY Mary the Mother.
That the committee men in the Vatican should either be ignorant of this historic, Biblical and profound teaching– or intentionally subvert it by reverting to Mother Earth instead of Mother Church and Mother Mary undermines whatever good might have been accomplished in the Amazonian Synod.