Do not worry about the GDP

I was reading the book God Unbound, by Brian McLaren last week. Subtitled ‘Theology in the Wild’, it’s a reflection on a trip to the Galapagos, combining travel writing with spiritual observations about nature, God and theology.

McLaren finds himself thinking about the abundance of nature, and by contrast, the scarcity mindset that so often drives consumerism and materialism. With modern language and examples from the Galapagos, he recasts Jesus’ words from the sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear, or about the GDP, whether it is heading up or down. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing, and well-being more than the value of your stock portfolios? Look at the marine iguanas on the black volcanic rocks; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet the Creator, working through the harmonious and bountiful ecosystem of creation, feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing?

Consider the guineafowl pufferfish of the reef, how she thrives; she neither invests in growth funds nor runs her economy on fossil fuels, yet I tell you, even the sexiest movie star, the wealthiest athlete, and the most powerful politician, in all their self-congratulatory glory, aren’t as beautiful as she. Look, if God who makes beautiful the fish on the reef, which are alive today and may die in the next El Nino event, will God not much more take care of you – you micro-faiths? So listen: stop worrying, saying ‘what will we eat?’ or ‘what will we drink?’ or ‘what is the GDP forecast?’. For the economic exploiters and environmental plunderers strive for all these things. But the Creator, through the amazing evolutionary processes that surround you, gave you life and knows what you need.

It is greedy materialism, the endless thirst for more, that is driving ecological destruction. How much of it is driven by fear? By an inability to trust that what we have is enough?

Jesus warned us about this two thousand years ago. Trust that the world is enough, he tells his followers.

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