Respect: A Tool for Connecting

Date: Sun, 25 Feb 1996 16:45:57 -0500
From: Tom Ellis
To: Multiple recipients of list GAIA-L
Subject: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Dear friends,

For the nth time, I wish to remind you--

please respect others, whether you agree with them or not.

Calling someone a "religious fruitcake" is simply unwarranted, as is bashing another person's religious values for any reason whatsoever.

I initiated this list with the caveat that it was not an arena for discussing theology. I had my reasons: theological disputes are not subject to resolution, and because of people's emotional investment in their own viewpoints, such disputes can only lead to rancor (as we have seen).

Gaia is not a theological concept. Period. It is a mythic construct (which is quite different); the name of which has been applied to a scientific model, based firmly on cybernetic theory, and by extension, to an epistemological metaphor based on that model, and to a political movement based on that epistemology.

There is no contradiction between Christian (or any other) theology and Gaian epistemology; in fact, one of the world's leading Gaian thinkers is a high official in the Episcopal church hierarchy: Rev. James P. Morton of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

For the benefit of other Gaian Christians on the list, Father Morton makes a useful distinction, theologically, when he says "one can no more worship Gaia than one can worship an ostrich egg."

But the ostrich egg, like Gaia, is worthy of our awe and respect as a miracle of self-organization. But Gaia, unlike the ostrich egg, is a miracle of self-organization on which we depend, utterly, for our survival--hence, in Christian terms, it is the gift of God which predetermines our ability to worship God, and I hope Constance will agree to this. Without Gaia--without oxygen, fresh water, and topsoil (all of which are biological products) there would be no humans or anything else, except (perhaps) for anaerobic bacteria.

A mature and thoughtful religious faith--whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other--has nothing to fear from scientific inquiry or philosophical speculation.

After all, the touchstone of Gaian thought can be traced to a profoundly Christian person--Dr. Martin Luther King. It applies as well to our demeanor toward each other here on the List:

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

Anyone with a brain will acknowledge the self-evident truth of this statement, whether you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan, or whatever. So let's build on this consensus and steer clear of partisan theological disputes. And above all--steer clear of abusive jibes at others' religions.

--Tom Ellis

Created: Monday, February 26, 1996, 9:54:32 AM Last Updated: Monday, February 26, 1996, 9:54:32 AM