To the editor:
When overwhelmed by natural beauty, I say to myself, "If everyone in the world could see this, surely we would live in better harmony with the rest of creation." I remember thinking the same thing when I saw the first pictures of Earth, taken from the moon.
Apparently it will take more than natural beauty and knowledge to bring us together. I think we must also get over some outmoded ideas about ourselves and God. Original sin, hell, an angry, domineering God and an exclusive heaven - maybe these concepts were useful at one point. Now it seems they are holding us back.
We know we are all connected to each other in this beautiful universe, and it seems reasonable that we, like all creation, are infused with goodness, the "in-dwelling holy spirit." A loving force binds us together, but somehow, as we leave the innocence of childhood, we stop looking for the goodness in each other and lose touch with the beauty in ourselves.
I believe the mythic God who hurled thunderbolts made us self-righteous and harsh. We justified hierarchical systems, greed, and militaristic empires. We thought of ourselves as the apex of creation and looked at our abuse of the planet with "indomitable unregret," as William Faulkner described the Confederacy after the Civil War.
Our view of God as a demanding father gave rise to our work ethic. We want to be worthy of our place on the planet, but much of our hard work has produced things nobody needs and a level of activity that is often violent itself.
I believe it is our essential goodness that makes us strive to be perfect, but this quest can replace our reverence for God's creation. We are not perfect, except, from time to time, in our love. We all make mistakes, lots of them, but we seek instant forgiveness, personal salvation even, rather than the hard work of reconciliation.
I am inspired by the One who taught us to love our neighbor and to do good to those who hurt us. In one of my favorite hymns, "All nature sings and 'round me rings the music of the spheres." For too long we have thought of ourselves as the soloist in God's choir. We are learning, as Paul Wellstone said, "We all do better when we all do better." And so does the planet.
CAROLYN C. PETERSON