06 March 2008

Ecological Restoration as a Metaphor for Gospel Restoration

Ecological restoration is a helpful application for thinking about the Restoration of the Gospel. “The goal of restoration is not to immediately recreate replacement ecosystems, rather to 'jump-start' natural recuperative processes.” This jump-start, or initial intervention sets the process in motion, after which a self-organizing system carries on with the capability of evolving through time. Ecologically speaking, humans provide the jump-start; religiously speaking, God Himself provided the jump-start beginning through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The beginning is where the majority of energy is input into the system. In ecological terms, this would be setting the parameters and putting the process in motion; reintroducing native species, setting up erosion control, removing non-native species, and reforestation. For the Gospel, the beginning involves revelations, return of priesthood authority, translation of new and old scripture, and large outpourings of the Spirit. Once set in motion, the system naturally evolves with much less input required. The restoration is never ‘done’ or ‘complete’, but moves forward and upward.

Purposefully altering ecosystems is a controversial issue since it is such a shock to the system. Some plant and animal species will probably die; others, who previously struggled, may thrive. Likewise, the Restoration of the Gospel was a shock to this world. The religions of the day resisted fiercely. There were casualties. Not everyone accepted the role or necessity of the intervention. It was controversial.

When an ecological system is restored through intervention, it is never the same as before. The original condition is always impossible to reach. The allegory of the olive trees speaks of the grafting of branches back into the vineyard. As such, the vineyard never returns to its original form, but the end goal is met, fruit "like unto the natural fruit." The Gospel today is not exactly like the Gospel in Adam or Christ’s time, but it is everything that is necessary to bring about God’s purpose, the salvation of His creations.

The eventual goal of restoration in both ecology and the Gospel is regeneration; a stabilized system with life giving processes; completely sustainable and life producing. If you can do it forever, it’s sustainable. In the gospel this equates to the resurrection, where a new, eternal life is created and there is no death and no loss of knowledge.

Life is a living system. Reductionist thinking (looking at the details and fragments) is common, but is not enough. Zooming back in scale from the details, we can see the big picture where nothing is isolated and all things are connected in a network. The Restoration of the Gospel is not a series of dates, events, or details. Nor is it a complete compilation, or gathering of words, ideas, or scriptures. The Restoration of the Gospel is nothing less than the complete renewal of all creation including a renewal of the earth (10th Article of Faith) and a "restitution of ALL things." As such, the Restoration is unfinished, and will remain that way until the final Resurrection of all life, including the earth itself, when the wilderness will become "like Eden, and her desert like the garden."(Isa. 51: 3) There will be a "new heaven and a new earth" (Isa. 65: 17 ) When we are involved in this process of Restoration, we add value to the whole system. We are literally involved in the development of new and sustaining life.

Disclaimer: I will be the first to admit I am not an expert on ecology. I find it a fascinating subject, though. What little I know was gained from a lecture attended last week by Bill Reed, whose Regenesis Group is exploring these ideas as an ecological developer in the US.

Olivo by Dani3D


S.Faux said...

Very nice metaphor. I think I agree with you. Besides, I like anything that implies evolution. But, that is the life scientist in me.

green mormon architect said...

s. faux,
Thanks very much for your kind comments.

Jesse said...

I have an argument in favor of ecological restoration.

1. "Pride is the great stumbling block of Zion" - ETB
2. Zion and Babylon are the antitheses of each other,
3. Pride is the foundation stone of Babylon, ie. man's pride ("I know what's best, not God!") permeates all his creations.
4. Modern agriculture is the application of human pride to the ecology.
5. A more Zion-like form of agriculture would remove man's pride from the equation and would respect the genius of the environment's Creator.
6. Bug spray, weed killer, and rototillers are some of man's prideful and vain attempts to master a system God created perfect.

7. If we worked =with= God's genius instead of against it, we could bring about a ecological restoration.

8. Forests don't need man's interference to flourish. So, what if we set up self-managing forests where every plant, bush, vine and tree produced food? (ie. gardens of Eden).

Good news! Such an ecological restoration movement has begun. It's called "Permaculture" or "forest gardening". I've started one in my own backyard. Guess that makes me a Green Mormon Architect!