Earth Day came and went last week, represented on Her.meneutics with a flurry of commenters responding to Kay Warren's piece, "Puppies Aren't People." On the same day, DisneyNature released Earth, a film blending spectacular beauty, heart-warming scenes of animal families, the realities of life and death, and the impact of change. According to Variety, Earth is the highest-grossing documentary for an opening weekend. As my husband, Mark, and I stood in line to buy our tickets, we learned that Disney is planting a tree for every ticket purchased in the first week of the film's release. So far over 500,000 trees will be planted in the fragile Atlantic Rainforest of northern Brazil.
Embedded in Earth's beauty and narration are reminders that ecosystems have been altered in ways that make flourishing difficult. We witness a polar bear struggling to survive, and while we don't see him die, it appears that he does. As the summer ice melts, he loses his platform for hunting and his ability to feed after hibernating all winter. But on the upside, we see mama polar bear introducing her cubs to the world, a bird teaching her young to fly, a whale migrating with her calf, and elephants with their cadre of babies trekking across deserts in search of water. Earth shows mamas at every turn - nurturing, teaching, chastising, carrying, and nudging. (Watch the trailer and get a two-minute sample.)
Earth and films like it serve to remind viewers that we are only one part of creation, and are given the task to bear God's image, which includes being steward caretakers of Earth. We are interdependent with all of creation and need a healthy Earth to flourish. We love others - both human and non-human - as we care for ecosystems that sustain life. ...1
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