Melanie A. Howard’s reference to cattle in Jonah 4:11 and her suggestion that Genesis 2:15 could be read as saying that God put the man in the garden of Eden to “serve it” (rather than “keep it”) is interesting (“Don’t forget the cattle,” June 16). Either way, the reference is to the garden of Eden and is never repeated. As I summarized in the closing chapter of Anabaptist Remix: Varieties of Cultural Engagement in North America, edited by Lauren Friesen and Dennis Koehn (Peter Lang Publishers, 2022), Anabaptists will not move to an environmental vision so long as they cling to the literal bookends of Genesis and Revelation. (Mennonite Church USA’s Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective presents Adam and Eve as real people.) What use is a church if you don’t have a habitable planet to put it on? Promoting the Genesis 1 version of having dominion, or the Genesis 2 version of gardening, leading to a revelation of a new heaven and new earth containing only a city, no garden, no wildlife, (no cattle), one tree and one sterile river, is a narrative that cannot lead to creation care. Still, there is a kernel of Anabaptist belief in simple living that could sustain our fragile planet.
David E. Ortman, Seattle