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 human-nature relations be thought of, and practised, as both rich and satisfying and yet as working within certain constraints? The interpretative issue is no longer the dependence of the human on the non-human. Instead, what is at stake is how to interpret that dependence.
Second, the matter of scaling cannot be addressed without attention to how it is that the human emerges from the non-human. What is the relation between what Bookchin calls 'first nature' and 'second nature'? Bookchin defines 'first nature' like this: 'Biological nature is above all the cumulative evolution of ever-differentiating and increasingly complex life-forms with a vibrant and interactive inorganic world.' Bookchin defines 'second nature' as a 'cultural, social and political "nature" that today has all but absorbed first nature'.1 What is the relation between these two? That the human is an emergent creature is not contested; the interpretation of that emergence is.
1. Murray Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology:Essays on Dialectical Naturalism (Montreal, New York and London: BlackRose Books, 2nd edn 1996), pp. 29,31.
Third, because the notion of nature is dangerous, and has been used to reinforce nationalisms and fascisms, the political outworking of nature is here important: how is the human creature a participant in nature.? How is non-human nature a participant in the human sphere? How is the zoon politikon also a citizen of nature, and how is nature also a 'political agent'.?
How these issues impinge upon a Christian, political theology of nature is the central concern of this chapter. Is social ecology helpful in addressing these principles theologically? Christianity, of course, is not without its own resources: it needs no help with the grammar, but the vocabulary and the syntax ... these are different matters. Or, to put the issue in terms I used in chapter 1, Christianity knows of the relations which govern the world of creatures in its contingency and dependence on God. The matter, however, is to develop further this rich Trinitarian ontology: social creatures in a common realm, oriented towards the triune God.
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