I've recently been on a "see Christianity as ecological teaching" kick the last month or so. Though I've read little of Berry before, sad to say, I found his essay "Christianity and the Survival of Creation" representative of current thought on the subject (or, the greening of religion, ALL religions). What I enjoy is that he starts out by confronting people who would quickly dismiss such a conversation on the grounds of atheism, or agnosticism, or historical precedence, or anyone quick to dimiss the possibility that the Bible might actually be read in the way it was intended when written (another essay in the book I'm reading briefly discusses The Odyssey as an environmental treatise--wow, was that interesting, too).
The main issue that Berry sums up from all I've been reading is that, yes, Christianity (those practicing it) has purposely or blindly--for many reasons and in many ways--destroyed the intended and natural spirituality / connectedness of people, plants, animals, etc. That's obvious. What isn't is that few are doing much to get at the truth of the religious (er, spiritual) principles that have been distorted for 20 centuries. Clearly, Berry, like any good ecologist / environmentalist, wants to heal and reconnect all creation--something a certain Native American writer Linda Hogan champions in a stellar book, Dwellings. Enough. Quote time.
--"We are holy creatures living among other holy creatures in a world that is holy." In other words, God looked on the earth and saw that it was good. Everything was created divinely. God-like. Of the same stuff (humans made of dust). Interlinked. Equal.
--Not a quote, but I like how he says the church is not the only holy place. In fact, everywhere is holy (oh, Linda Hogan, do you hear this?). I could quote that he discusses anything human made or human comprehended, as an act to encapsulate God, is actually idolatrous. This is why Catholocism bugs me, especially. Oh I feel hate emails coming. Berry believes in experiential Christianity, and that the Bible champions this over chanting inside boxes.
--"The presence of His spirit in us is our wildness, our oneness with the wilderness of creation." Sounds like other religions environmentalists tend to favor over Christianity, when in fact, they all often point in the same general direction about a lot of things. Honest. Been reading that, too.
--"I don't think it is enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is. It is best read and understood outdoors, and the farther outdoors the better. Or that has been my experience of it. Passages that within walls seem improbable or incredible, outdoors seem merely natural. This is because outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonder; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine--which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes."
That's enough. I don't want to label Berry too much, though all of his original thoughts on leading a more agrarian-based life that will heal us (human and other), balance us, do have reflections of his own deeper spiritual beliefs, I don't believe those beliefs--no matter what religion they are based in--should lead to someone looking at what he's saying as incompatible with the environmental movement, which tends to happen all too often; a movement, which to succeed and get us rightly related to ourselves and the world, should not be solely micro managed by the "liberal" or the "cultured." In fact, we all have to connect more deeply and spiritually to the world, and this is one big way. Benedictine monks, with their mundane chores serving as prayers and moments of enlightenment / revelation--and as Christians--have as much to offer us as do Buddhists, Muslims, Native Americans, and Al Gore (argh--why has he become a religion? Anyone?).