I didn’t go to church this morning because I took a little trip with my brother (who is visiting), my Mom, and my Mom’s husband to Letchworth State Park. In addition to having a waterfall and a dam, this park is the burial place of Mary Jemison. Mary Jemison was captured by Native Americans during the French and Indian War. From what the wikipedia article says, she was transferred to another tribe, and she eventually married a Native American. I vaguely recall reading somewhere in the park that she married a chief. An inscription underneath a statue of her said that, soon before her death, she trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.
The waterfall—-by which I mean the biggest one at the park—-is definitely an awesome sight. I wonder at times where theology should fit in when I am looking at nature. Can I appreciate nature for its own sake? Or do I have to believe that it somehow reflects the Christian God’s power, wisdom, and love for beauty? If natural phenomena did not arise through an instantaneous act of God, but rather came about through natural processes that occurred over a long period of time, does that detract from nature being awesome? I think of the movie Jurassic Park, which I saw at the Imax a couple days ago: the main characters in that movie who were scientists stood in awe of nature. They saw nature as delicate, yet as something that we should not mess with. It has a certain order, and yet life contains chaos. And, in the movie, life found a way to circumvent boundaries and limitations that human beings tried to place on it. In my opinion, nature deserves a degree of awe, whether it was created by God or not. Yet, I think of the Book of Job, which held to a theism in tandem with an observation that nature is mysterious.
On Mary Jemison, it’s interesting to me that a person with a pluralistic background—-who lived for a long time among people-groups who presumably did not hold to the Christian religion—-could somehow arrive at the point of trusting Christ for salvation. I wonder how she herself addressed the question of whether the Native Americans she knew and loved were in hell for not having been Christians.