During his presentation in the Creatio event held in the frame of the WYD2013, Alfredo García presented us an overview about nature, culture and theology of reconciliation.
Beginning with the concept of nature, Dr. Garcia stated that nature is more than something that is not human or divine, “Nature” is referred to what is originally given in each being. Therefore, the meaning of nature emphasizes the idea about a reality previous to any human action or intervention; the identity like the most proper characteristic of a reality in its totality, and finally we must consider the nature towards an end, and is not something amorphous or chaotic, but ordered and intelligible, that is containing a direction and a meaning.
The third aspect, that has been previously, emphasized about the classical concept of nature refers to the importance of understanding that all of reality has an end (telos), and therefore any dimension of non-human or inanimate reality has a purpose or a direction. This was formulated as such by Aristotle, who argued that the end (telos) determined the concept of nature (physis), in the same way as a tree, with its “end” is already present in the “nature” of a certain seed, specifying and orienting its development. Inanimate things are not excluded, such as a rock for example, that being tossed in the air does not remain there but rather returns to its “natural place”, which is, precisely its “end”. In this way, despite the limitations of this pre-Christian form of thinking that was unconscious of a spiritual reality that transcended nature, the value of the Aristotelian formulation was found evidencing the “order” of the natural world, that it is a cosmos, rather than a chaotic amorphous mass or some irrational evolutionary torrent. Rather as cosmos it is a reality with an “end” and thus revealing a “logical” structure, intelligent and intelligible, found in its most intimate self.
The revelation of God in His Son Jesus Christ, and with it, the deepest revelation of the nature and end of all of reality, ratifies that logical and teleological sense of the non-human environment. But is also offers the final and deepest explanation of its meaning: in the beginning was the Word and through Him all was made. In this way, finite reality, once understood as a “physis” enclosed upon itself, is known as “creation”.
The theology of reconciliation, as the term itself indicates, emphasizes, therefore a “first relationship” of all of creation with a creative Trinity It’s not about a “conciliation”, the quest of some form of agreement among realities that were initially separate, but rather about the re-unification of something that, from the beginning, was already united in an essential harmony.
About the concept of culture, it is important to go back to the origin of this word, not only as a matter of precision in language, but because today it seems to have lost an essential sense of the original term. It is commonly accepted that it was Cicero who coined the term culture to refer to “human growth”. The term derives from the Latin verb meaning colere, which means “to grow”. Prior to this formulation of Cicero, the term “culture” was used, with different prefixes, to designate the reverent cultivation of something. So it is observed in particular noticeable way in the word agriculture, which means the “land farming”. The fact that the Latin tradition, through Cicero, has chosen the term “culture”, now without prefixes, to refer to “human culture” seems, then, to note that any “growing momentum” must have deep aware that what is going to grow is a “reality” that is beyond that initiatives to grow, that is, which is initially “given” and not “created” by humans.
Culture, then, is the way the human person grows all reality given, including especially their own, so that reality, in general, we provide the best fruits. The memory of this original meaning of the word “culture” seems to be eloquent enough to see the way it is linked to the dynamism of reconciliation operated by God.
Given the various “breakdowns” that can be verified in the culture of today –especially the “break with reality itself”– reconciliation, operated from the “foundational reality” of God, is offered as a deep response not only to recover the essential dynamism of culture as a “culture of reality” but to direct it to a greater fullness, that makes it to operate as a “cultural vibrancy” that carries itself and projects the “reconciling dynamism” to all spheres of reality. This is what the American bishops have been emphasizing in various pastoral documents proposing a “culture of reconciliation”.
In reconciled cultures, humans would appear more clearly, in relation to all creation and, within it, with respect to nature, as “lord of creation”, in the sense that it protects, but is also called to develop and configure it to work with the divine; he would appear as superior, but also participant in it; would appear as an actor, but also as a recipient of the wonders of nature, which allow their survival and their orientation towards God when contemplating the grandeur and beauty of the works of their hands.