Ecology and Christian
In classic Christian hierarchy the bridge between divine Being and those in the ‘lower’ states of being, that is, below the human, is taken to be the human person himself, the generic male. He, after the example of Christ, assumes a mediating role as steward, guardian/custodian or pastor/shepherd. Such male metaphors signal particular features in hierarchical ordering which have not only excluded women, a priori, from a custodian’s role in regard to the Earth, but also, as we shall see, sanctioned the oppression of both women and Earth.
As a theologian, being asked to consider ‘custodianship’ as a possible role for women in relationship to the Earth means bringing this hierarchical ‘order of things’ within Christianity into view, since, in common with such paradigmatic structures, it is so generally accepted as to be almost invisible. In his Preface to The Order of Things, Michel Foucault refers to these structures as the rules which, epistemologically and systematically, keep things in order, come into play to make discourse coherent, and which, at the time it is written and accepted, give the order its practical application. They constitute the grid of identities, similitudes and analogies through which we sort out many and different things. They result from precise operations and the application of preliminary criteria. Order, he says, is at one and the same time that which is given in things as their inner law, the hidden network that determines the way they confront one another, and also that which has no existence except in the grid created by a glance, an examination, a language; and it is only in the blank spaces of this grid that order