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Restored to Earth

Christianity, Environmental Ethics, and Ecological Restoration

Gretel Van Wieren

Publication Year: 2013

Ecological restoration integrates the science and art of repairing ecosystems damaged by human activities. Despite relatively little attention from environmental ethicists, restoration projects continue to gain significance, drawing on citizen volunteers and large amounts of public funds, providing an important model of responding to ecological crisis. Projects range from the massive, multi-billion dollar Kissimmee River project; restoring 25,000 acres of Everglades' wetlands; to the $30 million effort to restore selected wetlands in industrial Brownfield sites in Chicago's south side Lake Calumet area; to the reintroduction of tall grass prairie ecosystems in various communities in the Midwest.

Restored to Earth provides the first comprehensive examination of the religious and ethical dimensions and significance of contemporary restoration practice, an ethical framework that advances the field of environmental ethics in a more positive, action-oriented, experience-based direction. Van Wieren brings together insights and examples from restoration ecology, environmental ethics, religious studies, and conservation and Christian thought, as well as her own personal experiences in ecological restoration, to propose a new restoration ethic grounded in the concrete, hands-on experience of humans working as partners with the land.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

...Recently, over dinner, a colleague and friend of mine expressed frustration about a keynote address that we had both just attended by a prominent ecological theologian. My friend was lamenting what he perceived as an overly negative, crisis-oriented, and dour message that ran through the talk, as well as through contemporary environmental ethics in general. He wondered if mourning the environmental crisis and our bad environmental behavior was...

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Introduction: From Wounded Land and Spirit to Healing Land and Spirit: The Significance of Ecological Restoration for Environmental Ethics

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pp. 1-32

...What we need to do, proposes social ecologist Stephen Kellert, is “address the roots of our predicament—an adversarial relation to the natural world—and find a way to shift our core values and worldviews not just toward the task of sustainability, but toward a society with a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with the creation...


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CHAPTER 1: “Let There Be a Tree”: A Field Guide to Types of Ecological Restoration

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pp. 35-54

...ecosystem and culture to culture. As a vernacular practice, perspectives on restoration shift according to the types of ecosystems (forest, grassland, wetland, river), degradations (deforestation, erosion, toxification, species loss), and repairs (bioreactivation, recontouring of land or waterways, reintroduction of native species, removal of exotics). Additionally, meanings vary depending on understandings of an ecosystem’s original or historic condition, the environmental...

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CHAPTER 2: For the Sake of the Wild Others: Restoration Meanings for Nature

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pp. 55-83

...Religious environmental ethicists too have argued in favor of recognizing a moral status for parts and/or wholes within the nonhuman creation. In this case, however, the natural world and its beings hold intrinsic worth that appeals to moral sensibilities based on nature’s relationship to the sacred. Creatures are endowed with the glory of God (Sallie McFague), for instance, or the whole creation is characterized...

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CHAPTER 3: Restoration of the Personal Heart: Toward a Spirituality of Environmental Action

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pp. 84-112

...of squash soup, tomatoes, and apples, all from Illick’s backyard garden. The LCA is a community-based organization that formed two decades ago in order to organize and educate residents regarding the restoration, protection, and care of the Lewis Creek watershed in central Vermont. Given the LCA’s reputation in Vermont conservation circles for working on watershed restoration from a holistic...

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CHAPTER 4: Regenerating Communities of Place: Public Restoration Values

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pp. 113-142

...Beyond these, however, there are communal and social aspects in restoration practice that need to be explored. Restoration, as we have seen, is a group activity, often involving a cadre of practitioners—restoration ecologists, landscape architects, volunteers, land managers, farmers—working collectively to implement particular goals and objectives. And although restoration efforts today run the risk of technological drift—that is, of becoming a practice dominated...


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CHAPTER 5: Ecological Symbolic Action: Restoration as Sacramental Practice

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pp. 145-169

...values in relation to particular places. Further, we saw how some communities use restoration activities as a way to strengthen social connections between people and ecological connections with natural systems. In this chapter I examine how restoration functions as a form of symbolic action, as well as a type of social and ecological practice, in relation to healing damaged natural lands. Restoration may, in other words, attempt to regenerate healthier ecosystem processes...

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CHAPTER 6: Re-Storying Earth, Re-Storied to Earth

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pp. 170-188

...Beyond simply reducing fuel use, modifying economic controls, or slightly reforming our education, the realization of this vision would require human psychological and cultural transformation on a planetary scale. It is not simply a matter of reducing our fuel use, modifying economic controls, or slightly reforming our education system, wrote Berry. “Our challenge is to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be...


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pp. 189-198


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pp. 199-208

E-ISBN-13: 9781589016835
E-ISBN-10: 1589016831
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589019973

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013