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Ecospirit:Religions and Philosophies for the Earth

Religions and Philosophies for the Earth

Laurel Kearns

Publication Year: 2007

We hope-even as we doubt-that the environmental crisis can be controlled. Public awareness of our species' self-destructiveness as material beings in a material world is growing-but so is the destructiveness. The practical interventions needed for saving and restoring the earth will require a collective shift of such magnitude as to take on a spiritual and religious intensity.This transformation has in part already begun. Traditions of ecological theology and ecologically aware religious practice have been preparing the way for decades. Yet these traditions still remain marginal to society, academy, and church. With a fresh, transdisciplinary approach, Ecospirit probes the possibility of a green shift radical enough to permeate the ancient roots of our sensibility and the social sources of our practice. From new language for imagining the earth as a living ground to current constructions of nature in theology, science, and philosophy; from environmentalism's questioning of postmodern thought to a garden of green doctrines, rituals, and liturgies for contemporary religion, these original essays explore and expand our sense of how to proceed in the face of an ecological crisis that demands new thinking and acting. In the midst of planetary crisis, they activateimagination, humor, ritual, and hope.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ii-vii


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pp. viii-xi

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pp. xii-xix

We earthlings may be approaching our ecological ‘‘tipping point.’’ That phrase indicates the transitional moment when small changes make huge differences, when predictable processes give way to nonlinear and irreversible amplification.1 This rhetoric of climate...

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Introduction: Grounding Theory—Earth in Religion and Philosophy

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pp. 1-18

A New Yorker magazine cartoon displays a sporty little flying saucer flitting away from the earth. One extraterrestrial is commenting to the other: ‘‘The food’s OK, but the atmosphere is terrible.’’ Of course a lot of us terrestrials (not only New Yorkers) zip about tasting the aesthetic variety of our gifted planet. We relish our global

Ecogrounds: Language, Matrix, Practice

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pp. 19-20

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Ecotheology and World Religions

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pp. 21-44

My aim in this essay is to discuss a social and spiritual movement called ‘‘ecotheology.’’ I want to provide an example of how it can be practiced among Christians and discuss its relevance to the many world religions. In addition, I will briefly introduce aspects...

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Talking the Walk: A Practice-Based Environmental Ethicas Grounds for Hope

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pp. 45-62

Environmental issues consistently rank near the top of people’s concerns. Surveys indicate that as many as four out of five Americans consider themselves to be environmentalists. Environmental values have become mainstream, permeating politics, education, religion, and...

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Talking Dirty: Ground Is Not Foundation

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pp. 63-76

Common ground has become uncommonly hard to find. Even those of us who don’t think much about our common ecology have been worrying about a base for democratic politics: without shareable ground, we have failed to make common cause, even...

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Ecofeminist Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics: A Comparative View

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pp. 77-94

Ecofeminism has emerged in the late twentieth century as a major school of philosophical and theological thought and social analysis. The word ‘‘ecofeminism’’ was coined in 1972 by Francoise d’Eaubonne, who developed the ‘‘Ecologie-Fe´minisme’’ group, arguing...

Econatures: Science, Faith, Philosophy

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pp. 95-96

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Cooking the Truth: Faith,Science, the Market,and Global Warming

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pp. 97-124

‘‘Have you heard the one about the rabbi, the priest, the pastor and the Toyota Prius? No, it’s not a joke. And neither is global warming.’’
So reads the introduction to an action-alert email on Faith and Fuel Economy from the Interfaith Climate Change Network (ICCN). Only I might change it to a rabbi, pastor, priest, and preacher to more accurately imply the four constituent groups of the National...

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Ecospirituality and the Blurred Boundaries of Humans, Animals,and Machines

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pp. 125-155

When the call to an ‘‘ecospirituality’’ has been raised in the recent past in the West, it has usually been as a result of a critique of the overindustrialization of the landscape and its attendant damage to the earth. Ecospirituality has been associated with...

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Getting Over ‘‘Nature’’: Modern Bifurcations, Postmodern Possibilities

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pp. 156-177

In Politics of Nature, Bruno Latour questions the value of the term ‘‘nature’’ in advancing the ecological agenda, commenting that ‘‘under the pretext of protecting nature, the ecology movements have also retained the conception of nature that makes their...

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Toward an Ethics of Biodiversity: Science and Theology in Environmentalist Dialogue

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pp. 1178-195

In an often told and possibly apocryphal story, a member of the Christian clergy anxious to engage in dialogue asked the Marxist physiologist John Haldane what his study of the natural world had taught him about its Creator. Haldane replied that if there...

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Indigenous Knowing and Responsible Life in the World

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pp. 196-214

The term ‘‘indigenous’’ refers to that which is native, original, and resident to a place. By introducing perspectives on time, however, ‘‘indigenous’’ becomes somewhat ambiguous. That is, evolutionary history presents a story of change over time among...

Econstructions: Theory and Theology

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pp. 215-216

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The Preoriginal Gift—and Our Response to It

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pp. 217-232

In Sacred Gaia (2000) and again in Gaia’s Gift (2003), I explored the concept of ‘‘gift’’ while taking for granted that it involves more than simply an exchange of goods between two people. It is now time to spell out, as precisely as possible, what this...

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Prometheus Redeemed? From Autoconstruction to Ecopoetics

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pp. 233-251

Over the past decade or so, a lively and fruitful conversation with postmodernist and poststructuralist strains of thought has been taking place among theologians and biblical scholars. As indicated by the recent work of Catherine Keller and Mark Wallace, among...

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Toward a Deleuze-Guattarian Micropneumatology of Spirit-Dust

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pp. 252-263

Christian ecotheologians of the last four decades have been pointed in their critiques of the metaphysical hierarchies lying at the foundations of Christian thought. Traditional cosmological mappings place God at the top of a metaphysical ladder that...

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Specters of Derrida: On the Way to Econstruction

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pp. 264-288

I do not claim that Derrida explicitly saw environmentalism as the next step for deconstruction. It could be argued, indeed, that the direction he took cuts against environmental concerns.1 In an extension of our broad responsibility for the human other, he...

Ecodoctrines: Spirit, Creation,Atonement, Eschaton

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pp. 289-290

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Sacred-Land Theology: Green Spirit, Deconstruction, and the Question of Idolatry in Contemporary Earthen Christianity

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pp. 291-314

Christianity often acts like a ‘‘discarnate’’ religion—that is, a religion that sees no relationship between the spiritual and the physical orders of being. Historically, it has devalued the flesh and the world as inferior to the concerns of the soul. In the history...

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Grounding the Spirit: An Ecofeminist Pneumatology

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pp. 315-336

Her legs tap dance under the sheets as her ten-year-old mind reels from her first contemplation of googolplex. Wanting something to keep her from flying loose in the centrifugal forces that tug at bone and body and brain, she begs: ‘‘Make me...

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Hearing the Outcry of Mute Things: Toward a Jewish Creation Theology

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pp. 337-352

Up until recently, modern Jewish theology has not emphasized creation theology. Arthur Green has written that Jews have largely discarded creation as a theological issue because they became convinced that the origin of species or the origin of the universe...

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Creatio ex Nihilo, Terra Nullius, and the Erasure of Presence

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pp. 353-372

Justified by a transcendent and omnipotent Creator ex nihilo, imperial Christianity has been re-creating the world—as if ex nihilo—for the past 1500 years. The theology of an all-powerful Creator and Preserver has arguably served as the justification for a theoanthropology...

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Surrogate Suffering: Paradigms of Sin, Salvation, and Sacrifice Within the Vivisection Movement

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pp. 373-391

At the end of the nineteenth century, philanthropist Frances Power Cobbe bemoaned the nearly religious reverence bestowed upon the scientific community by the general...

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The Hope of the Earth: A Process Ecoeschatology for South Korea

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pp. 392-412

On June 2, 2006, the Supreme Court of South Korea gave final clearance for the South Korean government to continue tunneling through Mount Cheonseong for a new high-speed rail line; it did so without asking for or obtaining an Environmental Impact...

Ecospaces: Desecration, Sacrality, Place

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pp. 413-414

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Restoring Earth, Restored to Earth: Toward an Ethic for Reinhabiting Place

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pp. 415-432

The sun strikes the rust-orange tailings of the now-abandoned copper mine as the group of worshippers breaks into song at the Easter sunrise service, celebrating the renewal of their faith and of their commitment to restoring the toxic landfill beneath...

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Caribou and Carbon Colonialism: Toward a Theology of Arctic Place

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pp. 433-453

The time has come, the kairos is here. The Arctic places of the world, the regions of glaciers, permafrost, snow, wind, and ice are changing. The people of those lands have said so for decades, before Western scientists were able and willing to acknowledge...

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Divining New Orleans:Invoking Wisdom for the Redemption of Place

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pp. 454-467

This essay may be read more as an invocation, even as a prayer, than an argument. It is meant both to invoke and evoke, to summon the spirit of hope and to instigate incarnations of wisdom in the ‘‘City that Care Forgot.’’1 It ponders the fate of...

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Constructing Nature at a Chapel in the Woods

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pp. 468-482

The worlds in which we live are ripe with images of nature: as our mother, as a wilderness to be tamed, as a divine gift to be stewarded, or as a pure and idyllic garden. Nonhumans appear to us as ‘‘nature’’ largely (or perhaps entirely) through...

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Felling Sacred Groves:Appropriation of a Christian Tradition for Antienvironmentalism

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pp. 483-492

This story from Butler’s Lives of the Saints initiates The Cross and the Rainforest by Robert Whelan. This latter, more recent book builds its polemic against contemporary environmentalism on the historical Christian precedent of cutting down trees in order...

Ecohopes: Enactments, Poetics, Liturgics

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pp. 493-494

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Ethics and Ecology: A Primary Challenge of the Dialogue of Civilizations

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pp. 495-503

This is a powerful statement from one of the leading historians of world history. Yet we might expand Toynbee’s statement to suggest that the twenty-first century will be remembered by this extension of our moral concerns not only to humans, but...

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Religion and the Earth on the Ground: The Experience of GreenFaith in New Jersey

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pp. 504-516

Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the grassroots religious-environmental movement in the United States has grown noticeably. More houses of worship engage ecological issues than ever before. A small but growing number of religiously...

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Cries of Creation, Ground for Hope: Faith, Justice, and the Earth Interfaith Worship Service

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pp. 517-518

This service took place during the Ground for Hope conference at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, on September 30, 2005, and was designed by a Methodist minister and a Conservative rabbi so as to reflect the various faith groups who were represented...

Cries of Creation

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pp. 519-530

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The Firm Ground for Hope: A Ritual for Planting Humans and Trees

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pp. 531-535

This is a story about a community’s ritual life as it relates to organic and architectural structures. This particular narrative of tree blessings begins the year before the Ground of Hope conference is held at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. After...

Musings from White Rock Lake: Poems

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pp. 536-542


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pp. 543-636


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pp. 637-638

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247035
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823227457
Print-ISBN-10: 0823227456

Page Count: 544
Publication Year: 2007