Towards a political theology of nature

So far, I have argued for a philosophical theology of nature in a political-ideological key. The transcendentals of becoming, unity, sociality and openness articulate the common realm in which God, nature and humanity are mutually yet asymmetrically related. As part of the same argument, homogeneity is ruled out difference in God requires differentiation of the world worldly distinctions require the concept of a self-related God. The terminology of'ground', 'activity' and 'force' emerged as...

Participation

I have used the term 'anarchist' in my initial description of Bookchin's position. In what senses is Bookchin's position anarchist. Five aspects of ecoanarchist thought have been identified by Robyn Eckersley a rejection of the nation-state the mutual and interactive compatibility of ecology and anarchism a rejection of hierarchy in both human and natural worlds an emphasis onlocal, extra-parliamentary political (direct) action and, finally, 'the importance of maintaining consistency between...

Christological shaping sociality

In chapter 2, I stressed the importance of sociality by noting that, metaphorically, it is to be ascribed to the second person of the Trinity. Through this chapter, the implications of this claim are being explored. We have seen through the last section - in the exploration of nature as extra nos and pro nobis - that spatiality and temporality are analytic to sociality. How could there be social interactions, which the concept of sociality as transcendental indicates, without space and time....

Introduction

In this chapter, political theology of nature interacts with the political theory of social ecology. To begin the discussion, I offer three interpretative principles by which any ecological inquiry must be oriented today. These three principles are First, the issue of the scaling of the human in relation to the nonhuman can such scaling be achieved in non-reductive ways, both for the human creature and the mundus In what ways are we to think of such a scale, of such proportioning Can...

Preface

Always I have linked Christian living with issues of power, theological existence with politics. Even when I have struggled with my baptism - and I have struggled quite a lot - the shaping power of my religious formation has always included a political aspect, although I have changed my mind on the nature of that politics. This book encompasses these interests it offers a theology of living before and from the triune God within the politics of ecology. I do not know whether sufficient time...

Politics of nature ecosocial ontology

I have argued that the concept of the common realm of God, nature and humanity provides a useful way of tackling the two problems with which a political theology of nature must engage the overcoming of the double alienation of God from the world and humanity from nature. The concept of the common realm insists on the reality of nature and yet also insists on its interaction with humanity. Nature is neither entirely cultured nor simply given. Indeed, the conception of the world as totality and...

Womennature

Ecofeminist theory makes a highly important contribution to this study. The common realm is not a patriarchal construct nor is it sex gender blind. The healing of the relations between 'humanity' and nature does not turn upon the fracturing of women's lives nor does the production of nature exclude its reproduction. I have already noted that the requirement to rethink the relations between nature, humanity and God has been proposed in ecofeminist religious thinking. Further, ecofeminist...

Reconstructing a political theology of nature theological holism

In this part, we come to the last movement in the dialectical passage of this study the dynamic yet critical articulation of Christian theology and political ecology culminates in a Trinitarian reading of un natural humanity oriented towards the triune God. This chapter offers a theological grounding of the key concepts of sociality, temporality and spatiality that is, a Christological ecosocial ontology. In chapter 8, the discussion moves into pneumatology. As the operation of the Word is...

Immanuel common friendship

This final section proposes friendship between humanity and non-human nature. The eucharist is an ecclesial action which requires a pedagogy the eucharist is a difference which makes a difference. That difference is a pedagogy of friendship. Friendship implies reciprocity and alteration. It is thus suited as a way of describing a eucharistic pedagogy of human-nonhuman relations in the common realm. It also indicates a way forward out of the distorted sociality of humanity in its relations with...

Human freedom natural contingencies

The theological task emerges more clearly not to leave the world as it is. What might be the outline of a theological account which declines to leave the world as it is. The contribution of a political theology of nature is Christological the common realm of God, nature and humanity has Christ as its centre. 'God is no stop-gap he must be recognised at the centre of life The ground for this lies in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. He is the centre of life.'41 This commitment to the...

What is deep ecology

It would be tempting to describe deep ecology as another political ecology. However, at any rate in the view of its chief proponents, deep ecology is not least a movement of ecosocial activism. Prevalent as a theoretical movement in the USA, Canada and Australia, its chief practical contribution has been in the United States where it has been associated with the creative and influential Earth First environmental movement. Formed in 1980 by five American conservationists, of whom Dave Foreman is...

From idolatry

Through this chapter, an important difficulty in the consideration ofna-ture, within theology and without, has been presented. Should one speak of the end of nature or its resurrection, of anthropology or cosmology, of freedom or naturalism Where should one put the stress in the following On the first occurrence of Nature or Humanity or on the second occurrence The philosophical theology presented here contributes to the articulation of the common realm ofGod, nature and humanity by insisting...

Democracy and difference

Earlier I argued that the themes of stewardship and valuing nature simplify human-nature relations and, arguably, our notion of God. The concept of common democracy is a theological attempt to develop an ecological pneumatology for a political theology of nature. The escha-tological actions of the Spirit engage us in and through our contextual-ity, towards the renewal of sociality and affirm both unity and diversity. The 'democracy of the commons' is a theologico-political attempt to develop a...

Sexinggendering the common realm

The common realm is not sex or gender blind. To argue that the relations between humanity and nature are best understood only in mutual co-explication with the triunity of God is not thereby to obscure the different relations and associated power differentials between women and men, 46. Shiva, StayingAlive, p. 42. Cf. Shiva, 'Development as a New Project of Western Patriarchy', pp. 189-200 Shiva, 'The Greening of the Global Reach', in Wolfgang Sachs (ed.), GlobalEcology ANew Arena ofPolitical...

God nature humanity

As a result of such a complex story, it becomes clear that the theological way forward cannot be the straightforward affirmation of a theology of nature as a way of correcting what is taken to be an overemphasis on the theology of history.31 Why First, because the relations are too complex to admit of such a reversal. Second, because in a straight reversal, which privileges nature over history and space over time, the issue of the presence of God is not attended to and thereby goes unresolved....

Standard theological options stewardship valuing nature

This section has the character of a hiatus, because now the shout goes up 'But what about stewardship. ' In my view, the task of glorifying God given to un natural humanity cannot be achieved through stewardship that is, the attempt at the administration by the human of God's realm according to the will of the creator. In putting the matter thus, I am rejecting the two standard ways of construing Christian responsibility in the face of non-human nature. Stewardship I have already mentioned the...

Common totality sexedgendered relations

Ecofeminist thought in North America and Australia has engaged in an extensive critique of deep ecology.26 Reprising some themes in that debate provides a useful starting point for grasping the account of totality operative in some ecofeminist theory. Although criticisms of deep ecology are directed towards its politics and strategy, some ecofeminist misgivings focus on the ontology maintained or required by deep ecology. For example, 26. Here I am drawing on the following Plumwood, 'The...

Becoming unity sociality and openness of God and creatures

In a remarkable section, 'Creation as Benefit', Karl Barth argues that the philosophical counterpart to his theological account of creation would be the concept of'pure becoming'.27 Theologically, creation as divine benefit means, for Barth, that the connection between creation and covenant cannot be weakened or broken. Creation cannot be known without the covenant the covenant cannot be known without creation. Or, as Barth himself puts it, 'the truth of the covenant is already the secret of...

The aim of this book political theology of nature

The motivation for writing this book lies in my belief that Christian theology has an important contribution to make to the reinterpretation of the human habitat demanded by ecology and the reconfiguration of human social life demanded by the imperatives of environmental sustain-ability. Yet I am also convinced that a new type of theology of nature is now required. In theological discussions of the environment, attention has been focused on the relation between theology and the natural...

An anarchist common realm

One striking aspect of Bookchin's position is that he refuses the notion of hierarchy in nature not by widening but by reducing the gap between society and nature.59 Such a reduction ensures that Bookchin's position addresses effectively the questions posed at the beginning of this chapter. The distance between nature and society is reduced through the commitment to read both in terms of the developmental emergence of diversity, mutuality and spontaneity. Yet the reading is dialectical in order...

Common Spirit unnatural fellowship

What account of'place' is suggested by eucharistic pedagogy. How does the Christian community practise 'place' Place is the locus of community, as Harvey observes, where militant particularism originates.49 Yet a non-dialectical identification with place can fall into the trap of missing the ways in which places are constructed, not least through the flows of international capital. Only by keeping place in relation to space, the local in tension with the global, can we develop a liberative...

A materialist theology of nature

Whereas deep ecology did not yield many insights into the relations between humanity and nature, ecoMarxism - by its attention to the conditions of production - offers a conceptuality for consideration of these matters. Further, the issues of the 'mastery of nature', natural limits and scarcity are also considered by Marxism. We noted also the stress in the work of James O'Connor on the importance of the state as the mediator between capitals and nature's economy. That is, under contemporary...

The Holy Spirit giver of common life

So far, I have argued that the actions of the Spirit in support of unity and diversity are contextualised with reference to democracy the political 95. As Boff notes, Ecology and Liberation, p. 88, social injustice must be related to ecological 96. Gundersen, The Environmental Promise of Democratic Deliberation, p. 196. affirmation of peaceable relations between humanity and nature identifies an ecological deficit, human impoverishment and political paths to fellowship. These are the contours...

From distorted sociality to the common realm Godbody

The subject of a political theology of nature is the distortions of social relations of un natural humanity with nature, in relation to God's Trinity. At the conclusion of this theological inquiry, the contours of such a political theology are now evident a theological social anthropology in a doctrine ofcreation has emerged, constructed out ofan intensive engagement with political ecology, which is both Trinitarian and founded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the God-body. Some of the...

For us the sociality of nature and humanity

In chapter 2, I proposed the concept of sociality as the principal transcendental for the interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection ofChrist requires, I argued, the interpretation that in the return of Christ to the world by God the creator, which is praise of Jesus by the Father in the Spirit, we have a Godly judgment on sociality. That is, the breach in sociality - the solidarity of human beings to be for one another -does not concretely in and for Jesus of Nazareth...

Eucharist ecclesial place

Christianity is best understood as a way of life before and from God, and thereby as participation in the community of disciples. Through this section, therefore, I argue that central to the identity ofChristian practice is a social act which relates space to place and globality to locality. That act is the 'time-laden and social'21 eucharist. How is the community of the eucharist to be interpreted for the common realm If to participate in the eucharist is to participate in the cross and...

Creation nature

I have already advertised my commitment to the basic shape of Christian doctrine throughout this argument. In connection with the doctrine of creation, this involves a commitment to two rules of theological thinking. First, that creation is the free, unconstrained act ofGod. Creation is to be understood not as necessary but as contingent traditionally, this rule has 48. Consider, for example, the work of process theologians such as John B. Cobb, Is it Too Late A Theology of Ecology (Beverly...

Against the reenchantment of nature

A stress on nature as space persistently invites the Romantic interpretation of the re-enchantment or resacralisation of nature. That is, natural relations are persistently preferred over un natural relations human ends are to be found in nature. The attraction of the re-enchantment of nature lies in its rejection of the theme of the 'salvation' of nature by humanity. 'Saving nature' describes a hubristic and unsustainable programme that denies the extra nos of nature.10 Given that, at first...

Knowledge from the underside33

The issue of standpoint epistemologies emerges in debates in feminist theories of science. As Sandra Harding explains, such standpoint theorising 'originates in Hegel's thinking about the relationship between the 29. Plumwood, 'The Ecopolitics Debate and the Politics of Nature', p. 79. 30. See Salleh, Ecofeminism as Politics, ch. 10 Karen J. Warren and Jim Cheney, 'Ecological Feminism and Ecosystem Ecology', Hypatia 6 1 (1991), 179-97. For a critique of Warren and Cheney, see Catherine...

A dynamic common realm

The theology of the common realm of God, nature and humanity considers God's action towards non-human nature and un natural humanity, and specifies the difference in God which such action presupposes. To this end, in the previous chapter a Christological reading of human-nature relations was offered. That is, if any account of nature's economy is to be persuasive for theology, it must be interpreted in relation to the Logos as agent of creation. In such fashion is both the dependence on the...

Fellowship with nature democracy of the commons67

How is the openness of the Holy Spirit as gift and presence to be understood in a political theology. If stewardship and valuing nature are not theologically well-supported ways of speaking of fellowship in the common realm, which way is preferable Attending to the logic of fellowship, how might the sociality of creaturely life in its dependence and contingency be grasped in the dynamic of movement towards fellowship In the matter of human-nature relations, how shall fellowship be thought I...

The disgracing of nature

'We shall continue to have a worsening ecological crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.' Thus Lynn White concludes on the contribution of Christianity to the ecological crisis.11 Briefly summarised, White's thesis is that modern science and technology, although now international, have their origins in the West. To this development, Christianity makes no small contribution particularly through its creation story which, according to...

The politics of deep ecology

The third level of identification is 'cosmological'. Fox treats this as the most important level (while granting that those influenced by Heidegger will find the ontological level to have priority). What is cosmological identification Coming to a 'realisation of the fact sic that we and all other entities are aspects of a single unfolding reality' acquiring 'a sense of commonality with all other creatures' developing an 'impartial identification 56. John Macquarrie, Studies in...

The mastery of nature and the concept oflimits

Raymond Williams has commented on the ideological employment -'mystique', he calls it - of the concept of the 'mastery of nature'.21 Developing Williams's argument, in what senses should the mastery ofnature be 20. Benton, 'Marxism and Natural Limits', p. 161. 21. Raymond Williams, Resources of Hope (London Verso, 1989), p. 214. regarded as ideological. First, mastery suggests that humanity is not part of nature in a triumph of alienation, humanity is against nature rather than being both in...

The politics of theology politicalideological interpretation of nature

A political theology specifies the liberation of the concept of nature towards the affirmation of un natural humanity. To close this chapter, I offer more detail on the theological style of interpretation that I am calling political-ideological interpretation of nature. Such a theological style departs from the style most commonly found in the area of ecological theology which, in its focus on the significance of Christian symbols in the framing of a vision towards consciousness raising (which...

Limits and scarcity

For Marx and Engels, the issue of scarcity was always associated with the 'Malthusian problem' the attempt to trace scarcity back to some abstract account of the relation between food production and the 'human population' rather than the dynamics of a particular society. Hence reference to natural limits tends to be rejected in their thinking. Benton takes a different view as we have already seen, the attempt to theorise the matter of the natural conditions of the process of production...

Word made fleshly the realm of naturesociety

To invoke the name of Jesus Christ is, in my account, to propose a differentiated and complex holism. Interpreted by reference to sociality, the ecological situatedness of un natural humanity must be grasped dialecti-cally by reference to human societies, natural societies and their relations in the pro nobis, sacrificial structure of creation. The description of humanity as un natural is dialectical humanity cannot be grasped by reference to itself (anti-natural) nor can it be subsumed in...

Unnatural relations

Ariel Salleh writes 'What ecofeminism demands is a fully amplified critique of capital's degradation of the conditions of production, based on a recognition of the nature-women-labor nexus as a fundamental contradiction.'19 We may note, first, that such a nexus is not the only contradiction. But central to the ecofeminist case I am drawing on here is the insistence that attention must be paid to the interrelation between social relations of production and material relations of production. That...

The cosmic heights of deep ecology

Despite all these difficulties, deep ecology remains an important force in green politics. Why Where lies the attraction of deep ecology At the end of The CosmologicalSelf, Freya Mathews offers an important clue deep ecology is also concerned with meaning. That is, in this formulation deep ecology has profound 'religious' commitments. For the correct interpretation of the human self as related to the cosmic self bestows meaning. In one sense, Mathews's position permits the theoretical...

Socialising ecology

Although it has other adherents in, for example, John Clark and Janet Biehl, social ecology is associated primarily with the work of Murray Bookchin. Suspicious of the academy, none the less Bookchin's uvre includes at least ten books neither holding nor seeking an academic position, he co-founded in 1974 the Institute of Social Ecology in Rochester, Vermont. With a history of political activism going back to the late 30s, Bookchin has moved through several phases communist, Trotskyite and now...

The crucifixion of nature and the realism of the cross

The political theology proposed here addresses the matter of the shape of creatureliness in the perspective of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Attempts to reconfigure un natural humanity will always encounter the cross of Christ all utopian attempts are, indeed, 'crossed'. Put differently, Christian hope is founded upon a cross thereby, it is intensely realistic. For a political theology of nature, what does this mean. According to Peter Hodgson, the cross has a certain meaning the...

Creation and incarnation

How is the creaturely to be understood Trinitarianly - that is, by reference to Jesus Christ - to include both ecological society and ecological nature. At issue here, I shall argue, is the matter of creaturely difference and the origin of that difference in the creative act of the triune God in incarnation. From the matter of creaturely difference, the issues of both the common origin and destiny of ecological society and ecological nature and the contingency of creation come into theological...

Space place and environment

Marginality, in turn, requires a further step towards concretion. For marginality, the practical interpretation of scarcity and natural limits, occurs only within concrete processes of space and time. 'Implied in the concepts of external physical conditions, laborpower, and communal conditions', writes O'Connor, 'are the concepts of space and social environment.'46 Only through temporal-spatial practices are problems of scarcity and limit to be grasped. The theme of scarcity cannot be divorced...

Contemporary dilemmas personalism and naturalism

In the previous chapter I argued that the political-ideological interpretation of nature requires a theological conceptuality to promote a direct inquiry into the theology of nature, humanity and God. The origin, methodological status and key words of this conceptuality are the subject of the final sections of this chapter. What dilemmas will such a direct inquiry encounter, however. Difficulties in the interpretation of nature emerge in two general tendencies. Both theological and...

Incarnation as pedagogy

The further reconstruction of a political theology of nature will need to consider the implications of the inquiry in philosophical theology undertaken in part II. Given the theological critique of the previous chapters, which ways forward are to be affirmed And which denied. In the theologico-political analyses presented through chapters 3 to 6, the problem of nature as 'whole' was raised. We have found ecocentric approaches to be, at the least, problematic. The ascription of good, worth and...

How deep is deep ecology

What, then, are deep ecology's basic philosophical commitments. Deep ecology holds to the 'universal' aspect of nature. To amend Margaret Thatcher's dictum a little, nature cannot be bucked. However, this is nature not in its particularity and variety but in its 'universal' aspect. One of its leading exponents, George Sessions, summarises deep ecology thus 'The crucial paradigm shift the Deep Ecology movement envisions . . . involves the move from an anthropocentric to a spiritual ecocentric...

Christological placing spatiality

The enlisting of Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross of Jesus, as reported in the Synoptic Gospels Matt. 37.32 Mark 15.21 Luke 23.26 , is an interesting literary device this carrying of the killing instrument by a passer-by functions to delay Jesus' encounter with its unyielding wood. However, it is against this worked-over tree that the body ofJesus is eventually smashed. Nor is this Jesus' only encounter with non-human nature during his postbaptismal testing, Jesus lives with the wild animals...

Bibliography

Anderson, Perry, English Questions Cambridge Polity Press, 1992 . Barth, Karl, Church Dogmatics 11 1 Edinburgh T. amp T. Clark, 1957 . Church Dogmatics Iii 1 Edinburgh T. amp T. Clark, 1958 . 'The Barmen Declaration', in Clifford Green ed. , Karl Barth Theologian of Freedom London Collins, 1989 , pp. 148-51. Bauman, Zygmunt, Modernity and theHolocaust Cambridge Polity Press, 1989 1991 pbk. . Benton, Ted, 'Ecology, Socialism and the Mastery of Nature A Reply to Reiner Grundmann', NewLeftReview...

An ecological pneumatology

A much-cited and early Christian benediction interprets the Holy Spirit in terms of fellowship 'and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all' 2 Cor. 13.13 New Jerusalem Bible NRSV has 'communion'. Cf. 1 Cor. 12.13 . In the Nicene Creed, the Spirit is described as 'the Lord, the giver of Life'. How shall these commitments be understood to develop the theology of the common realm of God, nature and humanity. The first point is to note that fellowship is not to be restricted only to human...

Introduction ecocentric and anthropocentric approaches in political ecology

The issue for a political theology of nature is how to give an account of the content of the ecological relations operative in this world of creatures. The opening narratives in Genesis offer us, at a minimum, an account of the creation as a sequence of forms which culminates in a world of creatures. These are narratives of creation the world of creatures emerges as a 'consequence' of divine action. However, holding to creation is not the same as articulating in theological form how the human...

Into the depths philosophies of deep ecology

To answer these questions, I turn to the writings of Fox and Mathews, drawing on other sources where appropriate.37 I wish also to stress that both these writers are concerned - directly or indirectly - to move deep ecology away from discussions of value and towards metaphysics and thereby to rescue deep ecology from an identification with value theories in ethics. There is a sense in which the matter of the value of nature has never been Naess's primary concern. This clue is developed...

Dialectical naturalism

'A social ecology, as a holistic vision', writes John Clark, 'seeks to relate all phenomena to the larger direction ofevolution and emergence in the universe as a whole.'34 In his 'dialectical naturalism', Bookchin proposes to think together nature and society. 'Social ecology, in effect, stands at odds with the notion that culture has no roots whatever in natural evolution.'35 We cannot then be freed from nature if capitalism seeks to do so, it is false. Bookchin thereby opposes attempts to...

From natural theology to philosophical theology

At this point it will be objected that the common realm of God, nature and humanity is an exercise in neat natural theology and as such has no place in the theology of nature. Here we need to make some careful distinctions. Natural theology is not a single theological approach, as Wolfhart Pannenberg has conclusively shown.17 A form of natural theology that is worth defending takes its cue from core theological interpretations of the nature of God and the world. It is dedicated to that...

Confederal municipalism

Social ecologist John Clark writes 'If social ecology is an attempt to understand the dialectical movement of society within the context of a larger dialectic of society and nature, ecocommunitarianism is the project of creating a way of life consonant with that understanding.'47 Although 'confederal municipalism' is Bookchin's preferred term for his programme of anarchist politics, Clark's summary captures well the trajectory of Bookchin's political theory. Bookchin proposes a politics, a...

Ecological reconstruction of Marxism

'In almost every period since the Renaissance', writes Murray Bookchin, 'the development of revolutionary thought has been heavily influenced by abranch ofscience, often in conjunction with aschool of philosophy'.1 Can the development of the revolutionary thought of Christianity be advanced by a combination of ecological science and Marxist philosophy of praxis. 2 That is the question for this chapter. In what ways might the task of a political theology of nature be advanced through dynamic yet...

Ecomaterialism

From such a reading, it is not hard to see why James O'Connor might characterise historical materialism as neither sufficiently historical nor material.14 To overcome this lack, two moves are required. First, environmental history must be grasped as the culmination of historical inquiry the history of nature is now to be included alongside the history of humanity. Second, ecology not restricted to the discipline of the life sciences must be understood as the telos of materialism in which the...

Sexedgendered relations unnatural identities

As a mode of inquiry, ecofeminism is beset by two difficulties first, to persuade feminists that their position requires them to embrace ecofeminism and, second, to persuade ecologists, especially deep ecolo-gists, that gender-blind analyses are insufficiently radical. In philosophical ecofeminism, several essays by Karen J. Warren are treated as of central importance. With these I shall begin. Although Warren notes that there is little agreement on the 'important connections 6. In making this...

Common realm

According to Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, there is an important relationship between what he calls the natural sciences and the spiritual sciences both have a tendency to work with a reified notion of the natural.1 Both sciences, Rossi-Landi continues, are non-dialectical one privileges space over time, the second interior space over the public realm. Both are 'static'. Here lies the difficulty and challenge for a theology ofnature. For a connection, restrictive and damaging, may be noted between the...