I was perusing the obits, which I rarely do, and came across one for professor Doug Adams of the Pacific School of Religion at GTU. His interest was the blending of theology and the arts. One of his former students wrote: "'I probably would have been still stuck in a darkroom someplace doing documentary photography were it not for Doug Adams (who) taught (me) that a passion for the arts did not exclude (me) from a religious life.' For his master's degree thesis, (the student) took a series of landscape photographs to examine the question that if the earth is God's body, how do different cultures treat God? One of the pictures was of a strip mine."
We know which culture that was.
I've been reading about the Moorish culture, which was very much dedicated to horticulture: gardens and orchards, fountains and canals, and which brought agriculture to Spain in the eighth century C.E. So it would seem that older forms of Islamic culture had a loving, relational attitude towards nature, would 'cultivate' and 'care for' and 'husband' nature.
Orchards are important to many peoples. It is said that abandoned Susquehanna Indian camps could always be identified by the old wild apple orchards in their vicinities in Pennsylvania, by the early explorers and settlers. Also, my Danish relatives prized their gardens with fruit trees, where they would eat all their meals during the summer months.
I've visited India, where it would seem that the older versions of Hinduism still worship nature. Rivers and trees, and sometimes even stones are seen as sacred at the least, and as embodiments of God at most. Cows, too, are viewed as sacred, as are a wide variety of plants, including Bilwa and Tulsi. They are adorned by flower garlands, daubed with sandal paste, and honored.
My whimsy tells me that the older forms of European Christianity 'sanctified' nature - as if she needed it - by dedicating the old sacred wells and fountains to various Christian saints. Kind of sweet, including nature in its otherworldly vision of salvation. Fact tells us, however, that it also cut down the old sacred trees, which must have been very large and ancient. Of course, by now they would have probably died of natural causes anyway, but it does seem sad to think of them being cut down because of raw ideology.
I think this photographer had a very good idea. To judge a culture's view of God, by observing how it interacts with Nature. Food for thought.