October 22, 2017

The Cosmic Covenant – additional material

This page contains further commentary by Edward Goldsmith on 2 February 1998 at the Religion & Environment Education Programme (REEP) Conference for Bishops & Theologians, chaired by the Bishop of London.

The main text for The Cosmic Covenant was published in Fourth World Review, 1998.


The original meaning of shalom? Cosmic order, in fact. Ancient Judaism as well as early Christianity did serve to bind man to the whole creation and to the creator himself. it was only within the context of a cosmic or ecological religion – which early Judaism and early Christianity once were – that people can be made to realize that the destruction of God’s creation is a sin – the ultimate sin.

How then can we re-embed religion into the cosmos? There is no magical formula. What is certain is that the Church, must be willing to stick its neck out. It cannot continue to accommodate the disastrous trends of today, as it has done so far. It must cease to preach an otherworldly religion, committed to the worship of a god with no social, ecological and cosmic concerns. A new theology or theophany needs to be developed, based on what we are discovering about the original cosmic nature of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The message of Jesus Christ must be reinterpreted, as Matthew Fox and others are seeking to do, as being a fundamentally cosmic message.

But this clearly is not enough. The Church, must take a strong moral stand against the more intolerable aspects of economic development, such as industrial agriculture and genetic engineering.

In Switzerland, it has been discovered that human placentas from abortion clinics are systematically being fed to cattle – turning us all indirectly into cannibals. How can the Church countenance such a depraved commerce? How can it countenance too, the injecting of human genes into pigs to make them fatter?

If the Church does not take a stand against moral aberrations as this, does it really deserve to exist? Who can respect it? But it is not just against the worse abuses of economic development that it should take a stand, but against economic development and hence progress itself, and in particular against its globalization.

As this process continues, both society and the natural world are being destroyed at such a rate that the very survival of our species on this planet is now seriously threatened. Thus it has never been more urgent that this fatal process be reversed. This means, that instead of globalising economic activities, we should do precisely the opposite and seek to localise them. They must be carried out on a very much smaller scale by very much smaller enterprises, catering for local and at most regional markets.

We must realize that an atomized anonymous mass society that the globalization of economic development is creating throughout the world cannot conceivably be imbued with the cosmic world-view. On the contrary, it can only see society as unimportant or a mere fiction, as does Mrs Thatcher, and the natural world as but a source of cheap raw materials, while the cosmos itself, with its gods and spirits, can only be seen as a figment of the popular imagination. Quite clearly only a normal society, one structured into families and communities, living in close contact with the natural world, can possibly be imbued with a cosmic religion and can be capable thereby of living in harmony with the natural world of which it is part.

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