Vocation of the Soil

Vocation of the Soil

Mick Pope explores a theology of the Imago Dei and our vocation of the soil by examining the agricultural themes in the two creation accounts.  He concludes that all human activity is to be shaped by an agrarian model of our relationship to the soil, and all humans should be bi-vocational, involved at some level in the production of food.

Abstract

The Anthropocene represents the sum total of anthropogenic impact upon the planet, from climate change and ocean acidification, to the threat of mass extinctions – including the pollinators of our food, land use changes for agriculture, and the disruption of key natural cycles of phosphorus and nitrogen due to the misapplication of fertilisers. Agriculture plays a key role in the Anthropocene, at both the production and consumption end. Raj Patel and Jason Moore see cheap food as one of the key elements in the rise of capitalism. This rise in turn produced the Great Acceleration of the global economy in the 1950s, which marks the beginning of the Anthropocene.

Ellen Davis identifies the present crisis as the result of humans being fully habituated to industrial culture. The solution according to Davis is to become fully human. This full humanity is achieved by recognising the agrarian nature of the bible, and that God’s work as Farmer and caretaker provides the model for our behaviour.

This paper explores a theology of the Imago Dei and our vocation of the soil by examining the agricultural themes in the two creation accounts. This theology is then applied to the human vocation in the Anthropocene in two ways. Firstly, all human activity is to be shaped by an agrarian model of our relationship to the soil, one of nurturing, abundance, and limits. Secondly, agriculture is essential to human identity, and as such all humans should be bi-vocational, and become involved at some level in the production of food.

Full Title : The Image of God and our vocation of the soil

Biography

Mick Pope is professor of environmental mission at Missional University. He is completing M Phil in theology at the University of Divinity. Key publications: ‘Home and Homelessness in the Anthropocene’ in Reimagining Home (2019), ‘Rediscovering a spirituality of creation for the Anthropocene,’ in Nature of Things (2016), ‘The Self-emptying Godhead: Perichoresis, Kenosis and an Ethic for the Anthropocene,’ in Ecotheology and Nonhuman Ethics in Society (2016), ‘The Sea Is Eating the Ground: A Theology of Sea Level Rise’, Anglican Theological Review (2018).

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