Blue Planet, Frozen Planet, Living Planet . . . just three of the titles in Richard Attenborough’s many series of television programmes that demonstrate the power, diversity and beauty of the world in whose life we participate. In their different ways, his programmes – and many others like them – have also pointed up the earth’s fragility. A planet in need of care. This was Al Gore’s theme in the film An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and, again, An Inconvenient Sequel (2017).
Watching, reflecting upon, and debating programmes such as these is one place to start thinking about our Fragile Earth. Singing the Faith Plus offers other entry points to this theme.
The New Zealander Shirley Erena Murray is not the only hymn writer to have reflected on our faith response to the needs of nature but she’s one of the most consistent and thought-provoking. Her 1991 hymn Touch the earth lightly (StF 729) was in part a reaction to French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean region and its impact on communities lying within the testing areas. It reflects one aspect of her wider understanding of Peace. Laurence Wareing’s article on this hymn asks the question: “Has it become more difficult to speak of God’s presence as expressed through the natural world?”
A jolt of reality – the hymns of Shirley Erena Murray offers a good starting place for exploring her output and the 11 hymns included in Singing the Faith, many of them addressing issues of justice and peace.
God in the desert
Shirley Erena Murray has said: “Creating justice and joy means walking into the territory of basic human rights, as Jesus did. It means being aware of our own fragility as well as our planet’s, and using technology wisely.”
Our article Fragile Earth – experiencing God in the desert presents a number of hymns published in Singing the Faith and on this website that speak of pain, loss and fear in a world that doesn’t always behave as we might hope God’s creation would.
That article was inspired in part by thoughts around the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Acknowledging the fragility of human existence is one idea at the heart of Sukkot, which recalls the years that the Israelites spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Read Sukkot – a festival for all people?
What other resources have you found helpful? Let us know.