Saturday, September 18, 2010

My distinctive argument - I think...

(from my conversation with a publisher)

"With respect to the book proposal it seems to me that the major part of the conversation around ecological issues, both secular and theological, is structured around the dual questions of 'what must we do and why must we do it?' - with preserving the environment as the final end in view. I believe that is to spend too much time on symptomatic relief, and it does not address the more fundamental problem which is that we have turned away from God and forgotten what it means to live as a creature. Thus, for me, the solution to our predicament does not lie in any scheme which has as its final purpose the preservation of the environment. Rather, our foremost task is to learn again what it means to live as a human being, by following the example of the one who lived a fully human life (hence 'Let us be Human'). The most important contribution that the church can make is to name the powers that are destroying us, to identify all the ways in which our civilisation has become disordered and which prevent us becoming fully human. In other words, it is discipleship that is lacking, not a particular program for planetary preservation. This has what might seem a surprising conclusion, but one that I mean with all seriousness: the God-given way to 'save the planet' is by celebrating the eucharist, and allowing it to form us. If we repent and return to faithful living then the environmental problems will resolve themselves (“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” - 2 Chronicles 7.14). I'm not aware (yet!) of anyone else who makes this argument."

I'd be interested to know if someone else out there IS making this argument.


  1. Well, Milbank once said something like, "Perhaps in postmodernity, people will discover that the really 'transgressive' act is the celebration of the Eucharist." (I'll try to find this quote someplace if I can.)

    But of course that was from the old RO point of view, and I don't know whether or not he had "save the planet" in mind....

  2. (I really like your approach, though, Rev. Sam - as I think you already know.)

  3. I have not run across this line of argument elsewhere, and it is one of the main reasons that I follow your writings in this blog; you are right about this, and more people need to be hearing it.

  4. Yes Sam,
    If we just repent etc. etc. it will alter magically the gaseous composition of our atmosphere or in some other way bend physics so everything turns out peachy for us. Have you just taken a deep breath and taken a nose dive off the deep end or were you always this insane?

    I know reality isn't as much fun as crazy town but really Sam, I think it makes a fair bit more sense that we have envoirmental problem because we are directly altering the envoirmental conditions. We also are not living any less like humans than we ever did, we just have more fossil fuel burning and mass poduction technology.


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