I post the following in honor of my new nephew, Noah William Edward Ashley, born 9/24/10, in the hope that he can become that sort of Rainbow Warrior who will carry forward the legacy of a relational and responsible care for all living beings . . .
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.” Genesis 9:12-17 (NRSV).
In The Responsible Self, H. Richard Niebuhr describes and critiques the images of “man-the-citizen” and “man-the-maker” as classical Christianity’s two most prominent moral anthropologies. He then offers his own conception of a third, more adequate image, which he terms “man-the-answerer,” as the responsible self. In Niebuhr’s view, Jesus Christ provides the paradigm for this third image. In this essay, I will summarize, at times with language more abstract than Niebuhr’s, the deontological and teleological frames that yield the “citizen” and “maker” images, Niebuhr’s critique of these, and his conception of the “man-the-answerer” frame. I will then argue that the Book of Genesis’ Chapters 1 and 2 communicate first two anthropologies so as to place each of these within Niebuhr’s “universal community.” Finally, I will argue that Genesis’ Chapter 6 image of Noah serves as a second, and certainly a more plainly delineated, paradigm of the responsible self. Continue reading