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Weeping With Mother Earth: God Weeps with Mother Earth

In 1997, I was freshly graduated with a PhD in New Testament studies, when I entered the lecture halls of the University of Botswana. I was excited and armed with all the classic and newest ways of reading the Bible. I was all ready to make my mark in the world of teaching, researching and community service. But I soon came to realize that I had landed in a country, region and world that was overshadowed by something else— the global HIV and AIDS pandemic.   As I stood in a lecture  theater, packed full  with two hundred and fifty students, who had come to learn Gospel Narratives at my feet, I soon found myself unnerved, disarmed, and disenchanted as I began to ask myself, “What is the point of training these students about the ancient contexts  of the gospels and methods of reading the gospels, if  the knowledge I impart cannot save their lives and the lives of their families? Why should I teach the New Testament if it cannot address the pandemic that is engulfing the world? I had crisis. Career crisis. Infection rate among the young and sexually active population of my country was, at that time, placed at 33%.  There was  no cure and no access to any affordable treatment.  The song we were singing then was ABC; namely, that preventing HIV and AIDS was as easy as ABC—Abstaining, Being Faithful to one’s partner and Condomising.   But no, handling HIV and AIDS epidemic was not as easy as ABC.  Death reigned and my students disappeared, either through death, grief or assuming new roles as heads of households.


Recently, it has been creeping on me, again.  I am haunted by the relevance of my career as I watch our earthly home fall apart.  Mother Earth weeps.   She breaks apart, cracks, melts, and flows, closing boundaries between seas, rivers, dams and ground. She rages with frequent and more vicious hurricanes and destructive storms.  She unleashes heat waves and burns, setting up endless fire storms.   She releases hailstorms heating the ground, animals, plants and everything along the way. Mother Earth weeps.  Mother Earth laments from all the corners of her body and we are witnesses. Mother Earth has become a strange home for us, uncomfortable, uncertain unsafe.

I begin to wrestle with myself, and how I should   be teaching biblical studies in the context of the lamentations of Mother Earth and her children. Does God hear the cry of the Earth? I am at the crossroads, again: what is the relevance of my New Testament career if it cannot be part of healing and saving Mother Earth? I believe that the contemporary Earth crisis calls for the highest reflection and action from all Christian thinkers, writers, prophets, trainers and leaders.  We need to ask:


Needless to say, we need to birth Christian leaders who will think and work through Mother Earth as we realize that God weeps with Mother Earth. We need to train Christian leaders who will weep with Mother Earth as they interrogate the sins that have been worked upon her body and the violation of Spirit of God that was there upon all creation from the very beginning.  We need to train Christian leaders who will carry the lamentations of Mother Earth as they assume their prophetic roles on the mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, forests, villages, towns and cities.  We need to train Christian leaders who will stand with and weep with the poor and marginalized as they, once more, become the hardest hit from the destruction of the Mother Earth.  Curriculum transformation is in order.


I arrived in Atlanta last year, during Covid 19.  We were still all masked, reeling in another pandemic.  We were largely working from home, for Covid 19 had forced all of us to retreat, cover up and stay in our houses and give the Mother Earth a sabbath. Yet it was during the Covid 19 when the whole world came to graphically witness George Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe” and watch him die, thereby unmasking the suffocating pandemic of racism.  Now that we have been unmasked, what have we learnt from the Covid 19 pandemic?  How should we think theologically through and with Covid 19 experience and its link with class, gender, race and age?   What is the link between HIV&AIDS, Earth crisis, Covid 19, race and gender? It is fair to say that, among others, we have learned, and we continue to learn that we are a world living under various pandemics.  Colonialism is a pandemic. Capitalism is a pandemic. Neo-liberalism is pandemic.  Patriarchy is a pandemic. Racism is a pandemic.  Anthropocentrism is a pandemic. Homophobia is a pandemic. Theological training should be in the business of training God’s foot soldiers, those who weep with the violated spirit of God in all creation; those who carry the mantle of prophets, those who lament in the public square, those carry the anointing oil, for the healing of Mother Earth and her children.


How many people, like me, have been arriving in Atlanta, Georgia and the USA? Statistics can tell us. According to Avtar Brah the movement of human populations has been intensifying between countries, regions, continents and is not expected to stop anytime soon, for various reasons. Indeed, we are informed that the Earth crisis will brew more movements as some Islands sink, conflict rise dwindling resources, and as many places fail to produce food due to changes in temperatures and seasons among others. And so, I have heard that Atlanta boasts of, and smells of many cuisines from various parts of the Earth.  I am yet to fully indulge.  I have heard, and even visited, its farmers’ market with foods from everywhere to cater for its diverse populations.  These are testimonies of diasporas in Atlanta avenues.


Brah argues that we are increasingly becoming a diaspora community, living in the diaspora space, where the native and the migrant find themselves within increasingly diverse cultures, religions and languages. Of course, why we travel and how we are received; how settle or remain unsettled, depends on ones’ race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity. For the theological educators it is imperative to craft welcoming spaces, theologies of various cuisines, sounds, songs, dances, fabrics and tongues.  The good news should be the good news that welcomes the other as part of God’s created world.


The theology of diversity invites us to God’s welcoming shalom; the God who created the Earth and everything in it; the God who created the Earth, beautiful and everyone in it; the God who created the Earth in goodness, interconnectedness and in balance—the God who celebrated every part and member of creation as good and very good! This a theological dream we are called to nurture. It calls for a curriculum transformation—transformations that place Mother Earth and diversity of theological thinking at the center of our content, methods, theories, programs and praxis. Euro-centric theological programs do not equip the religious leaders of today, who must serve in extremely diverse contexts. Our diasporic space calls for welcoming faith leaders and spaces that welcome God’ s diverse presence– a welcoming space that does not invite us to leave our differences at the door of your academic halls and worship sanctuary, but to enter as God’s own celebrated member.


Dr Victor Aloyo, I really wanted to talk about the tall trees of Atlanta.  I wanted to talk about its soil. It must be a rich fertile soil, that welcomes seeds and grooms them to grow to their tallest height, often refusing to be sidelined by human development.  How can you and your school do a theology that is planted in the rich soils of the city—a theology that grows with the tall trees of Atlanta? How beautiful are the feet of those who plant theologies of liberation and healing in this fertile soil! Welcome to rich soils and tall trees of the city of Decatur, Dr Victor Aloyo.



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