Red in Tooth and Claw

So it is Sunday afternoon, and an Arizona monsoon just blew through a little bit ago. I just got the winds here at the house, the rain stayed south of us, but it does create a lot of interesting colors in the sky. Anyway, the power of the storm is always amazing. Nature is like that.

Interestingly, when it happened, I was sitting downstairs with Planet Earth on TV. I was listening to music rather than the show, while I did some chores, etc. On the show, I was captivated by a snow leopard chasing a mountain goat down a near steep cliff face. The leopard got ahold of the goat for a little bit, but this time the goat escaped by jumping into a river at the base, which the cat did not go for. Yet, the way that both of those animals scaled the cliffs, and then picked up speed was amazing to me. I love the way big cats move, eagles soar, and horses and other beasts run. Predator and prey in this case, which is very natural.

This is called, by many, that nature is "Red in tooth and claw." This terms gets used in ethics courses, or other classes which talk about the violence within the world. For some Christians, and perhaps others, the natural way of death is seen as evil, or at least a result of the fall. I'm not so sure I agree with that belief...but I'll admit this is not a topic I have thoroughly researched Biblically, theologically, and scientifically. I do know that I believe that these three realms will not contradict each other once enough of each is understood.

However, I wonder if maybe our understanding of natural "violence" as being that is misplaced. Perhaps the point of the fall is the very fact that we are looking at acts surrounding life and death and "judging" them as good or evil. I'm in an ethics class right now, which I love. Philosophy and ethics are one of those things which are not laborious for me, but rather stimulating. I wonder how life is supposed to be for the animals? Also, I really do not get the understanding of some that eating plants is not bringing death while eating animals does. Again, something to have to look into.

Anyway, I wonder if being Red in Tooth and Claw is bad. I just don't get it. I see a snow leopard being a snow leopard. I see a mountain goat being a mountain goat. Both have life, and both are doing what they need to do to survive. There is no idea like we do in humans, of having more than survival. There is no luxury. Life is, for animals. The polar bear that struggles through ice and water to find food is merely being what it was created to be. Nature changes, but nature was also declared "good" by God, and was created in the first place by God!

I find it interesting that the original sin of Adam and Eve was to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They listened to the temptation to "be like God" without understanding their relationship with God as being created in their image already!

Bringing this into modern life, all of the views and disagreements over how to live life to its fullest, in whatever viewpoint exists, are judgments on what is deemed the proper way to live life. Ethics are these very virtues, vices, rules, principles, and judgments. There is a way, God's way, that exists, but even in those who acknowledge him there is not tremendous amounts of consensus of exactly how to do this. But yet we need to "be" and "do" in order to fix what is broken in us. Or rather, we need to allow ourselves to be fixed. We cannot fix ourselves. We have to give up the striving to fix, and to yield to being fixed. I think this is the Gospel, the reason why Jesus came. Because God wanted us to return to how we were created. To be the human, and the humanity, that we were supposed to be. To be complete. To be the imago dei. To be. After all, God is "I am."

So what I think, and wonder, is understanding the telos of life as life. Not striving for a better way, but allowing the character of God to transform us into the new creation that is the original creation. Seeing creation as Red in Tooth and Claw helps me to see that it is not about a list of do's or don'ts, but an orientation in relationship with God which brings peace and righteousness.

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