The final part of this series looks at the person of Jesus; not the toy sold as “Buddy Jesus”, but the actual historical figure who walked this earth 2000 years ago, and, according to some, whose feet may well have walked upon this green and pleasant land of Albion (yet another blog post for another time).
Certainly the Church in the past has used the figure of Jesus to condemn those who don’t believe exactly what it teaches and as a rallying figure to justify atrocities such as warfare and even as an excuse to not look after the land in which they live. Such teachings have come about due to personal convictions of the various teachers, some of whom are highly dualistic – equating the natural world with all that is evil, whilst regarding becoming disembodied as something to be preferred. These bastardisations and distortions of the accounts of Jesus stand in stark contrast to those contained within the Christian Sacred Texts themselves.
Those texts don’t actually start with Jesus, but with the Spirit of God brooding over the chaotic waters of the embryonic Deep. In Hebrew, Spirit is Ruach – breath or wind, and the imagery is of an expectant mother rubbing her hands over her belly, wondering what will become of the order and life contained within as the dynamic creative process begins. And so Creation is birthed in the first thermonuclear light within the Deep. The chaotic waters are brought to order and eventually life comes to be.
As a Deep Green Christian I believe in the Eternal One as a Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, without beginning and end, summed up neatly in the three-in-oneness of the Celtic triquetra. As such I see the pre-incarnate person of Jesus, present at the creation in the incredibly mystical gospel of John which starts with the words – “In the beginning was the Word (the Logos, or Information)”.
Some Christians see the Wisdom (or Sophia) of Jesus present at the Creation. From a Physics perspective, I would certainly see there needed to be precise laws in place governing the natural processes from the quantum and subatomic to the cosmic, laws we are only now beginning to understand with modern physics.
This same Spirit later in time overshadows the Virgin Mary, bringing about the God-man, Jesus – fully human, fully divine.
Reading the four gospels, accounts of the life of Jesus, one learns the green teachings of this God-man, who being in an agrarian culture uses it as the backdrop for his teachings: the fields, birds, trees and flowers all take central stage to teach about his coming kingdom, one where justice, peace, love, kindness, gentleness, self control, joy, patience and faithfulness are paramount, where the earth is honoured and blessed, and is a blessing in return. We read of him as One
- who is a teacher, a challenger of the establishment, often found in the wild places, dangerous if provoked, yet gentle with those who are broken.
- whose mastery over the storm at sea causes them to be still echos his command over the ancient chaos monsters of Yam (sea) and Rahab (storm) at Creation and causes his disciples to realise this was no ordinary human being.
- who walks upon the water, something ghosts in ancient times were not believed to be able to do and a quality reserved for divine beings.
- whose transfiguration reveals his eternal light that shines brighter than the sun.
- who sees everyone as equals.
- who calls us to live to the fullness of who we’re created to be, calling us to follow him and be agents of change and transformation, co-creative agents in bringing order into chaos.
- who calls us to reflect upon those choices we’ve made that have impacted negatively upon ourselves, other human beings, other non-human beings and the planet in general, to deny our own selfish impulses which impact others and to follow him into life in all its fullness.
Then we read of this Innocent One being stitched up by the religious institution, unjustly and unfairly tried and shambolically found guilty, being hanged on a wooden cross – not as some modern Christians say at the hands of a vengeful and bloodthirsty divine father (like anyone would want to follow a God who enjoys killing people !!!! Not me !!!), but in full ransom payment to the enemy of creation who comes only to steal, kill and destroy it.
As CS Lewis’ depiction of the sacrifice of Aslan says, the legalistic White Witch was legitimately able to demand the death of a traitor, Edmund, because the deep magic (the Law) allowed it. However, what she didn’t understand was the deeper magic – that when an innocent dies in the place of a traitor, death itself would unwind, and so Aslan was resurrected. This is pretty well what happened with Jesus at the Resurrection where death could lay no more claim on him and so he rose from the dead, infused with the power of resurrection life, which is a foretaste of his realm to come. More than that, we see him ascend into the heavenly dimensions above our normal three dimensions, such that, according to the Sacred Letter to the Ephesians, he fills the entire universe with himself.
And this is why I’m a Christian pan-EN-theist, one who believes that God in all and all in God – not that all is God (that is pantheism). The Universe is held within the Eternal One, and the Eternal One permeates it, but the universe depends upon its existence and not the other way around. My understanding is of the Eternal Spirit of Jesus flowing freely through the entire fabric of the cosmos, his eternal energies upholding it in its entirety. And, if we stop to listen, we hear the calling of the Eternal One to step into that journey of discovery of the identity of the Deepest Green Man. Nowhere can we go from the presence of the Green One – if we go to the furthest regions in space, if we go to the depths of the sea, if we travel to the furthest sides of the sea, the depths of the earth, even to the dimensions of the dead, the loving embrace of the Green Man in Jesus holds us there.
I find Pagans have no issues with a divine presence being imbued within the sacred landscape, but oddly many Christians I encounter do have issues. This stems from that duality I mentioned earlier – earth = bad, heavenly = good. To illustrate this, I once lectured at a Christian theological college where I now am a student (the Master has become the Student)… Discussing the omnipresence (all presence) of God, I asked them if they believed God was there at the furthest regions of space, “Yes!”, and beyond those regions? “Yes!” what about in this room? “Yes!” And upholding the electrons spinning around atoms? “Yes!” and upholding the quarks within the protons and neutrons in the nuclei of those atoms? “Yes!”. And in this projector? “Nervous laughter!” – Sadly they’d equated objects as being “solids” incapable of being interpenetrated by the Spirit, even though they knew the science said things weren’t as solid as we imagine.
Science Bit – There’s no such thing as “solid”:
Advances in subatomic physics have shown that most things on an everyday, non-neutron star / black hole level are 99.999999999999999% empty space. Electrostatic attractive and repulsive forces hold matter back from either going ping and flying apart, or being sucked into the oblivion of a singularity (approaching which other forces and quantum laws begin to come into prevalence). As you read this, you are hovering several millionths of a millimeter above the surface you’re “grounded on”, held from falling through by the electrostatic forces between the molecules of the chair / floor material which pull together to stop you falling through due to gravity. You are also repelled from “touching” the surface by these same forces. So, there are spaces between the spaces in solid matter.As such, combined with the fact we’re a three dimensional space-time continuum which is being expanded upon a fourth dimensional hypersphere, like the skin of a balloon is stretched upon the increasing volume of air inside, it would be an arrogant person who could say that there’s no other entities inhabiting both those dimensions and able to pass through the spaces between the spaces we encounter. This understanding helps us to see how Jesus in his resurrection body could pass into a locked room to stand before his disciples (and other “teleportation” oddities mentioned in the Bible).
And so we have the Green Man – many faces, but with these distilled characteristics:
- A deity within the natural world
- Wild and dangerous if provoked
- Hidden yet can be revealed to those who discern appropriately
- A guider of souls
- Wise and caring of all of the creation
- One who celebrates sexuality and penetrates the landscape
- One who infuses all of the created order
- One who lives between worlds beckoning us to a better world, where life is good, justice prevails and everyone is equal
- One who wishes to see transformation
- One who presides over life and death
Finally, the ubiquitous Green Men, found throughout cultures, continents and time cannot be claimed to be anyone’s own tribal “god”, Pagan, Christian, Jain, Buddhist or anything else. He is found by all who seek, but he himself is owned by no single culture at any point in time. He is a universal symbol of hope – one which has been constantly reinterpreted in the West in our reaction against the seemingly relentless power struggle to control other people, to tame and carelessly raid the natural world of its resources. Let’s seek the better kingdom of the Divine, the greenwood where the deep longings and hopes for a better world are found.
By knowing the historical and the mythopoeic of the various Green Men, and using them discerningly, I would encourage us all to seek the Deepest Green Man whose ever presence means he can be found if we seek with pure intent of heart.
Below is the song of someone who has discovered the Deepest Green Man and discovered his face in every sunrise, the colours of the morning are inside his eyes, whose power is in the moonlit night, whose creation continually sings his praise.