Anthropocene – The Age of Us

by Mary Deborah Carlin, SND on April 28, 2015

in Blogs

The word anthropology has been uppermost in my mind throughout  Lent into EASTER.   It all began with a casual conversation with Sister Mary Karita Ivancic, SND. She was talking about the Christian Anthropology class she teaches at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio.   I wanted to attend the classes and Sister took care that  I could enjoy this splendid and enriching opportunity. The marvelous part of the class, besides content and information, was the students. We were quite a heterogeneous group.  The group consisted of a mother of six, donating her time with her parish youth,  a nursing student from Oregon, making theology her minor, another studying  for the Presbyterian ministry,  a college freshman majoring in theology.  I was thrilled to join them. Sister Karita,  reflecting on Christian Anthropology, kindled a new spark within our faith which helped us realize the divine dynamic in each person and its impact on all creation.  She renewed our belief that we are all  the vessels of divine life transforming the universe.

A few days after the class ended, I came across a term ANTHROPOCENE.  It is not in the dictionary so good old reliable Google came to the rescue.  The term is defined as “the proposed geologic chronological term for an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the earth’s ecosystems.”  There is serious debate on the dating of this epoch.  The scientific community recommends that the International Union of Geological Sciences name the new epoch  after us humans.  The geologists are not convinced this is valid.  After all, the world has most possibly existed 4.5 billions years. I see sad comedy in naming an epoch to recognize the mess we are making on planet earth.  To quote a friend, “That sounds conceited.”

The proposed dating seems more so.  This new epoch would be dated from the Industrial Revolution  ( 1850) or the nuclear explosion which produced detectable fallout all over the planet (1945).  So it would begin with us and go on and on with arthropods as prime movers.  I see it as mass reductionism.  It would be humorous, if it were not so painfully myopic.  Another friend pointed out that, “We flatter ourselves if we believe that our accomplishments in the past century constitute an epoch.”  This same friended reminded me, “to fear not.”   Even  our mistakes, moral or scientific, are being redeemed by God.  What  great cause for celebration!

During this EASTER season,  humanity might be better served by rejoicing in utter adoration over the continuing transformation of the universe in the presence of the resurrected LORD OF GLORY.  Genesis reflects the immense possibilities of humans caring for all creation.  It gives freedom to enjoy all things for the good of all.  Shall we celebrate all the good we have done impelled by the Holy Spirit?  Or  shall we go on an ego trip over our ambivalent efforts to manipulate nature for questionable ends?

During this Easter Season, I choose to rely on the Creator of all who makes divine energy and power more apparent in our marvelous cosmos and enlightens us  to recognize it.  Humankind, in all its diversity, can then rejoice in the Christian reality that God is all in all.  And for me, that is good news.

Notre Dame Sister Mary Deborah Carlin is retired from many years as a high school teacher and parish Religious Education Director.  She currently is ministering as a volunteer at Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon, OH.


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