Photo by danfador (Pixabay)

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“For the Love of Nature”

 

An excerpt from The Second Coming of Jesus,


by João Cerqueira

 

This excerpt, “For the Love of Nature,”  is from the novel  The second coming of Jesus, recently published in Portugal and soon to be published in Spain. 

 

 

When Magdalene and Jesus left the environmental camp, she revealed to him her ruminations.

 

“Did you know that nature and the Christian religion have a great deal in common?” she said.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes, the Bible shows this: the garden of Eden was an environmental paradise where you could eat  and no species was threatened with extinction; Noah saved all these creatures from the unexpected flood; Isaiah guaranteed that in the Messianic Kingdom the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the child will play by the cobra’s hole; Ezequiel makes the leftover flood water healthy; and Daniel is well received in the lions’ den …”

 

“Thank God there were no zoos at the time…”

 

“But adulteresses were stoned, also thanks to God,” Magdalene said.

 

“Thanks to men…”

 

“Fine, but what is certain is that a Christian cannot ignore ecology. The main parables speak of nature and farming. Plants and animals were chosen to pass on moral messages. More than from mankind, virtue comes from the earth and from its creatures. And the evangelists themselves then take on zoomorphic shapes. Lucas appears as an ox…”

 

“I see you’ve studied the Bible.”

 

“You don’t need to,” Magdalene said. “It’s all on Wikipedia.

 

“On paper it’s something else…”

 

“Sometimes you’re a bit antiquated.”

 

“The world changes so quickly …”

 

“Listen, I discovered more,” she said. “In the Old Testament there is a law prohibiting felling trees during war, another advising you not to maltreat oxen and another still protecting birds when in the nest…”

 

“I know,” Jesus said.

 

“You know nothing, pay attention. And the first environmental activist was Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, whom he called brothers. He begged alms for birds and suggested the presence of animals in the liturgies. He considered himself the son of a Mother Earth. And then there was Father António Vieira, who defended the Indians, the forests, and the seas in Brazil. One set freed the birds and the other spoke to the fish. As much as I hate to admit it, the Christians played a very important role in the defense of nature.”

 

“This Wikipedia is really interesting.”

 

“Hey, maybe one day the Vatican will join forces with Greenpeace and there will be a green pope, bishops brandishing crosiers on the high seas against whale-hunting ships, novices scaling the United Nations headquarters to unfurl environmentalist banners, the faithful lighting candles for the Amazon…”

 

Jesus smiled.

 

“So you do see a use for religion after all. Maybe you have more faith than you think.”

 

“Faith in mankind, in nature and in all living beings, yes,” Magdalene said.

 

“Maybe that’s all you need.”

 

“Look, one day I’ll die, my body will be buried, eaten by worms, dissolved into the earth, then some plant will feed on my molecules and a part of me will be transformed into oxygen. Finally some animal or person will breathe me and I will become part of that being. This will be my resurrection.”

 

“I just hope you won’t be breathed in by some polluter,” Jesus said.

 

Magdalene shot him a puzzled look. “So, I’ll probably go to heaven and, at some point, I’ll meet you there too…”

 

“Most likely.”

 

“Everyone has their own version of Utopia, don’t they?”

 

“The majority of mankind seems to believe in something more than chemical transformations,” Jesus said.

 

“Have you ever known anyone to rejoice in death?”

 

“The death of a human being almost always causes suffering to family and friends…”

 

“Couldn’t it be that they suspect that there’s nothing after that?” Magdalene asked.

 

“What’s the point in living if you believe in nothing?”

 

“It makes entire sense, because it’s all we have left,” Magdalene said.

 

“And those who become ill and disabled? Should they give up on life?”

 

“I hope to live for many years, but if an accident or an illness leaves me in a vegetative state, like a plant you need to water to stop it from dying, I would ask for them to give me something to make me fall asleep and never wake up. Would you be able to do that for me?”

 

Jesus paused. “As a proof of love?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And would you be able to pull out a plant that seemed withered to you? For the love of nature?”

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Segunda Vinda de CristoSegunda Vinda de Cristo_cover

by João Cerqueira
Paperback, 196 pages
Published January 2015 by Estação Imaginária
ISBN139789898781260

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The novel is not yet published in English;  it was nominated for the 2015 Latino Book Awards,  Category E, Portuguese Awards 

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Visit: www.joaocerqueira.com

For more information contact: joomcerqueira@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

About the Author 

João Cerqueira Bio João Cerqueira é doutorado em História da Arte pela Universidade do Porto. É autor de sete livros. A segunda vinda de Cristo à Terra, A culpa é destas liberdades, A Tragédia de Fidel Castro (publicado nos EUA com o título The Tragedy of Fidel Castro), As reflexões do Diabo, Arte e literatura na guerra civil de Espanha, Maria Pia: rainha e mulher, José de Guimarães (publicado na China pelo Today Art Museum), José de Guimarães: Arte Pública. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro venceu USA Best Book Awards 2013, o Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014, o Global Ebook Awards 2014, foi finalista do Montaigne Medal 2014 (Eric Offer Awards), e foi considerado pela revista ForewordReviews a terceira melhor tradução publicada nos EUA em 2012. Em 2015 será publicado em Espanha pela Funambulista, na Itália pela Leone Editore e no Reino Unido pela Freight Books. Os seus textos estão publicados na Toad Suck Review, Foliate Oak Literary, Hypertext Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Danse Macabre, Contemporary Literary Review India, Open Pen Magazine, The Liberator Magazine, BoldType Magazine, All Right Magazine, South Asia Mail, Linguistic Erosion, Calamites Press, Sundayat6mag, Literary Lunes.

 

 

João Cerqueira has a PhD in History of Art from the University of Oporto. He is the author of seven books. Blame it on to much freedom, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, Devil’s Observations, Maria Pia: Queen and Woman, José de Guimarães (published in China by the Today Art Museum), José de Guimarães: Public Art. The Tragedy of Fidel Castro won the USA Best Book Awards 2013, the Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014, the Global Ebook Awards 2014, was finalist for the Montaigne Medal 2014 (Eric Offer Awards), and was considered by ForewordReviews the third best translation published in 2012 in the United States. His works are published in Toad Suck Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Danse Macabre, Contemporary Literary Review India, Open Pen Magazine, Queen’s Mob, The Liberator Magazine, BoldType Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, All Right Magazine, South Asia Mail, Linguistic Erosion, Sundayat6mag, Literary Lunes.