Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Grounded Scriptures: created in God's image

There's something difficult in the word "dominion" which the humans are commanded to exercise in most translations of the Bible: "have dominion over the fish and the birds and the animals." It should be translated somewhere on the fine line between "stewardship" and "domination," because its meaning is about midway between, but the problem is that the word resembles one much more than the other. So I take Ellen Davis' recommendation to call it "skilled mastery" (from her full article which you can download right here) which indicates that our rule is not arbitrary or forceful. In order to take good care of it, we must have knowledge and respect for it.
Also, the "be fruitful and multiply" is mostly quoted with reference to humans, but the fish & birds & all are also commanded to be fruitful and multiply. Let us not forget our kinship.

A reading modified from Gen 1:26-28

God said, “let us create humankind in our image, according to our likeness, and let them exercise skill and mastery over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
So God created humankind, Adam, (earthling), in God’s image.
In the image of God,
God created him,
Male and female,
God created them.
In much the same way God had already blessed the animals, God now blessed humankind, and God said, “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and exercise skilled mastery over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Great God, you have created us in your image,
and imprinted upon us your attributes.
You have created us to be creators,
you have created us to be creative.
Deep in our souls is imprinted
your limitless vision of this world’s fertility and abundance;
sharp on our hearts is your call
to exercise good stewardship and loving care over what is entrusted to us.
We feel the true goodness of the world you have created
And the particular goodness of our little corner of the world.
We are standing on holy ground; ought we to have removed our shoes?
Great God,
Into your servants breathe the inspiration of your holy spirit,
Scrub away whatever is covering your image hidden inside.
Allow us to pray and to think and to speak from that place of creativity, of wisdom, of love and tender care.
Be in our work, and in our play. Be love in our hearts today.
In the strong name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.


Nancy said...

It seems to me that dominion language isn't so much the problem (although I prefer the language of stewardship, also) as what we interpret dominion to mean. If we understand our dominion is to be modeled after God's dominion, rather than the multitude of poor human examples, our actions will be quite different than they are. For Christians, God's dominion finds its embodied expression in Jesus. If we "ruled" the way Jesus rules, our care for the earth would be very different.

presbybug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
presbybug said...

great way to turn it around, Nancy!