Human Dominion And Separation From Nature

1335 words - 6 pages

Other than Native American works, most of the works read for the class seemed to stem from or at least were influenced by some vein of Christian thinking. This can’t be helped because the western world has been influenced by Christianity for centuries, and the foundational values still recognized in this country in particular are protestant, even if they’re not blatantly proclaiming the faith. In fact, we even read through a few chapters of the Bible because the common theme and justification of “human dominion over nature” stems from the primary story of the Bible in Genesis. This theme is often a subject of great sadness or annoyance for nature writers like Wordsworth and Mary Oliver; ...view middle of the document...

This sets the stage for generations of exploitation and a departure of our natural world. Wordsworth’s poem, “The world is too much with us” laments on this separation of man from nature. He even appeals to the Christian god in his poem, but follows it by wishing to worship nature as a primitive man so that he would be able to let his imagination be inspired by the natural world rather than see it as ordinary—it’s only purpose to serve. He believes that humanity is losing the ability to feel nature. “Little we see in Nature that is ours/ We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” Our minds and hearts have been sold to the material world. Which, honestly isn’t hard to understand. According to Christianity, humanity was given the authority and protection over the world, but when they sinned they lost it and blessed nature became wilderness. Everything that has happened since is humanity trying to work its way back to that position of power.
The End of Nature by Bill McKibben and “The Hetch Hetchy Valley” selection by John Muir both make several references to the Christian god. They’re very different from Genesis and Wordsworth’s poem because they are overtly about protecting and conserving the environment. Muir draws from his idea that nature is the only real “temple” for humans to experience and grow in God in the modern world; while McKibben is more scientific though no less spiritual about the benefits that come from being in nature. Both experience awe in, and of nature—for what it is capable of, not just spiritually but physically. And both lament its destruction. Though McKibben’s view is more apocalyptic saying, “There is no future in loving nature (1126)” because we are so separated from it and its demise. He recognizes that as humans we hold ourselves apart from nature, and push it to its limits. Unlike Muir, who believes that humans should put themselves in nature as much as possible because he sees a distinction; McKibben looks at humanity’s impact on nature as an idea diminished by our touch in every bio-sphere.
Mary Oliver’s poems on the other hand, especially “Wild Geese” and “Morning Poem” profess knowledge of Christian doctrine, but is fantastically opposed to it. Her references to “the soft animal of your body” in “Wild Geese” and “within you a beast shouting” in “Morning Poem” give the impression that probably adheres to a more Darwin view of humanity and nature. She specifically puts humanity in a position of being a part of nature, just another animal in the kingdom. A concept very at odds with Christian faith, especially with the popular theme found in the New Testament of the Bible that proclaims humanity as in the world but not of the world....

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