Dr. Mark Taylor posting live from South Korea:

The World Council of Churches General Assembly is big! Think a United Nations of churches and Christians. 5,000 or so participating. Greetings read from Pope Francis and from Ignatius, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Greetings from the Korean government delivered in person by Prime Minister Chung on behalf of President Park.

But the assembly is also small. I sat this morning with two Scotswomen, a Japanese man, and a Swedish woman in a Bible study. We discussed the first portion of Genesis 2 in its context and from our personal, theological, and cultural contexts. We noted that while the creation story in Genesis 1 is about separation (light from darkness, dry land from water), the one in Genesis 2 is about weaving things together. In Genesis 1 human beings are to rule the rest of the world; in Genesis 2, they are to tend the garden.

We were asked what this all might mean in terms of encouraging and protecting life in our “home” settings. My thought: How quickly for privileged North Americans, “tending” can become “dominating.” How quick we are to plow, fence, grade (degrade) the earth. We live so disconnected from the rest of creation – not woven together, as if we were the only life that counted. We are so pro-active in shaping the world to our needs and wants. Maybe before “tending” the garden, I (we) need to “attend” more: look at the world, listen to the earth, water and air/spirit of Genesis 2 let them just be, unadulterated by human desire. For the story in Genesis 2 is bottom up, not top down. The dry ground is watered by a mist that rises up from below. The first human is shaped from the very ground itself. “God of life, lead us to justice and peace” (the assembly theme), from the ground up.

~ Dr. Mark Lloyd Taylor


  1. Sounds like an amazing experience! I’m curious if the other cultures represented in the discussion had similar experiences and thoughts about the way “we” try to shape the world to meet our needs and wants. Thanks for sharing these stories!

  2. Great question. My sense from a few conversations is that many folk from other parts of the world do sense greater human connection to nature than I think might be true of some westerners. But, then, immediately, the Tongan Methodist who led our bible study talked about how climate change is literally swallowing up Pacific islands with rising sea levels. The young Swedish woman talked about the conflict in northern Sweden between mining interests and the reindeer herding needs of indigenous peoples – sound like 19th century America? The point is, we’re all interwoven in unbelievably complex ways – for better and for worse. Thanks for asking. Mark Taylor

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