“De zin is het zijn van alle creatuurlijk zijnde.”
“Meaning is the being of all creaturely beings.”
That’s a phrase from Dutch philosopher/theologian Herman Dooyeweerd‘s De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee. The idea, as I understand it, is that every creature is valuable just by being. Existence as a created thing is, in itself, meaningful.
No, I didn’t find that phrase through my own personal perusal of Dooyeweerd’s writings. Can’t say I’ve got ol’ Herman’s volumes on my nightstand or anything. And I may be half Dutch, but I don’t speak or read Dutch–though I’m learning to pronounce this poetic Dooyeweerdian statement.
My esteemed colleague Prof. Uko Zylstra–emeritus of Calvin University’s biology department–introduced us to this snippet of Dutch Reformed theological goodness during a class I just finished teaching on the Refugia Faith
book. For four weeks, on Tuesday afternoons, I got to talk about the climate crisis and theology and refugia and anxiety and hope with a lovely group of–well, I was going to say “older people”–but I really should say “people only slightly older than me.” I’m grateful to the good folks who participated and to the Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning
for the invitation to teach. If you imagine that only young people are in grief over the climate crisis, well, you haven’t met these dear folks.
With all the heavy news lately, it’s vital to reaffirm the inherent value and meaning of all created beings, so that we set our hearts again on living into this truth.
Correction: I have to make a small correction to my last newsletter (#11). My friend Tim kindly pointed out that Aldo Leopold’s shack is in Sauk County, Wisconsin, not Sand County. There is no Sand County. So the title of A Sand County Almanac has been a clever ruse all along! Or just a poetic description. It did not occur to me to fact-check that one: my bad.