Cátedra Carnahan 2007: Ivone Gebara 3

We are the last to arrive on the earth and the first to destroy it.

In her final lecture, Ivone Gebara explored the gendered connections between nature and humanity, or humanity within nature. She pointed out the wide ranging and contradictory uses of 'natural' to either justify 'natural' order or behaviour (such as when conservative Christians say "Homosexuality is unnatural") or to establish hierarchies between humans, that is those with 'culture', and 'nature' (in which women are seem as closer to nature, or as Carol J. Adams commented, women are judged 'neither man nor beast').

Like the land, women's bodies are seen as objects to be invaded and subdued. Men, she suggested, are socialized to be conquerors, to be conquistadores over and over.

Ivone highlighted the boundaries between dirt and cleanliness. Keeping the home clean is a task that has traditionally fallen to women. Women's responsibility to tidy up mess extends beyond the home, even to the requirement that they clean up emotional mess and relationship disorder. Ivone reminded us that those with power and money create mess, waste and rubbish. Those without, live within and from that rubbish. I know this because I hear it happening each night around the bins outside my window. The cartoneros continue to clean up and recycle my rubbish. I wonder whether the "plastic-bag-free towns" movement taking hold of people's imagination in England has power to spread around the world.

In their responses Heike Walz and Nancy Bedford spoke of polluting or toxic theologies. Toxic understandings of God pollute our lives, causing us to breath in dangerous harmful ideas about who we are and where God has placed us in the world. They are killing us.

We didn't talk about Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about climate change. But I wondered about all the many environmental groups and activists who have worked and worked for decades trying to protect the earth.

Blessed are we when we
sing your praises
and walk faithfully on
your earth.

Blessed are we when we
proclaim your justice
and enjoy together the fruits
of creation.

Blessed are we when we
are guided by your wisdom
and live in harmony with
your world.

from Christian Aid