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ECOnomy and ECOlogy and Occupy

January 23, 2015 By: Theoblogical Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

Since reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate,  I have been captured by the gravity of the issue of the Climate Crisis.  Just as with the beginnings of the Occupy Wall Street movement (and for some time before that,  about when the “Arab Spring” happenings were being broadcast around the world and on the Internet),  I was struck with the somewhat embarrassing realization that the fate of the earth itself was at stake (at the very least,  as an inhabitable place for the human race),  and that the Church in America (and elsewhere)  was not offering up much for us to truly enter in to the gravity of this moment.  As it did with the Occupy movement,  there were scant few visible conversations in new and traditional church media re: the climate crisis, just as there had been equally scant conversations re: income inequality,  the issue which had been thrust onto the national stage by the movement and the media coverage of it.

The Climate crisis has been building for years,  but it has really come to roost in American politics since global warming hit the big top of the national spotlight in 1989 when James Hansen of NASA published a widely circulated and reported paper on the topic,  and what it could mean.  Since then,  we’ve seen predictions and forecasts come true years or decades early,  as some of these warnings about trends and their consequences have already started manifesting themselves.  I had read Gore’s “Earth in the Balance: Ecology and The Human Spirit” (1992) and seen his presentation, “An Inconvenient Truth”, in movie form.  I have always considered myself,  especially since those days,  an “environmentalist” (although not much of an activist).  That was largely due to the fact that the science and the dire consequences of ignoring what that science has been telling us,  had not sunk in.  It hadn’t HIT ME.  That changed with Naomi’s book.

I immediately launched into a consideration of how it had happened,  once again,  that the church was not where it should have been: on the “forefront” of the public awareness of this “mother of all justice issues.”  Of course,  as usual,  the church was too busy being careful and politically correct,  and culturally accommodated to the prevailing winds of politics and American philosophy (which is dominated by neo-liberal capitalism).

For America, this goes back to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.  And for the church,  it goes back to the beginning;  where the initial narratives of the Good News began with Creation and culminated in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God;  a “Kingdom” that Jesus taught us to pray would come “on Earth,  as it is in heaven”.  In other words,  the Biblical narrative is quintessentially EARTHY and ECO-centered.  The most popular literary form in the Bible (and many other theological and religious texts and Holy Writings)  is that of apocalypse,  and that form is dominated by earth-bound imagery.  Seems the very foundation and location of all of Salvation History is THIS EARTH.  And there’s something ARCHETYPAL and deeply rooted in us about that message.  Which makes it probable that this is one way in which the Biblical message is so powerful,  and why Biblical writers (and Jesus) made use of earth-bound stories and dramas about the trevails and groanings of the earth.  Paul wrote of how “In Christ everything is bound together” (did he have some archetypal sense of what we know know scientifically as genetics and DNA and how not only creatures like ourselves but also the very universe is “hung together” by those strands?)

Larry Rasmussen’s “Earth Honoring Faith” is a wonderful theology book that painstakingly and eloquently expresses this.  I found it at Vanderbilt Divinity School Library,  and ended up buying the Kindle version.  It ought to be a basic book of theology for EcoTheology 101,  and the ideas included in every THEOLOGY 101 book (which not only Seminaries need to teach but also churches and pastors and Sunday School teachers).  It is , in itself,  a revolutionary idea because it would immediately pose a threat to any civilization which sees itself as dependent on the very energies which ravage the ecosystem and the neighborhoods of OTHERS detached from and invisible to our way of life.  As usual,  the powerful appropriate for themselves whatever resources they deem crucial and leave the “waste” and by-product to be borne by people who generally had nothing to so with their acquisition and plunder,  not to mention,  their “benefits”.  But “benefits” which are,  even for us who “enjoy” them,  limited and very much NON-infinite,  whatever our cultural modus-operandi might tell us.

I just saw , over Christmas holiday,  the movie musical “Into the Woods”,  and one line (or in this case, lyric)  really stuck with me.  “Careful the tale you tell;  That is the spell”.  The movie featured a witch who cast a spell on various people,  and it became the predominate occupation of their lives to deal with that spell.  The same goes for our cultural narratives,  which often skew us away from and obscure the Biblical narratives.  The stories which obscure are “spells” which distort;  which separate us from the realities of the Kingdom of God.  In our Western dominated , “Gnostic/Greek” dualisms,  we have become estranged from nature and from the real cosmos,  which is the ecosystem.   The church needs to help our culture and its people recover our connections to and dependence on that ecosystem.  It is then when we recover that proper groundedness (there’s that “earth”-y theme again);   that we are in an ECOsystem that encourages ECOnomy*;  that word we have always associated with money and commerce,  becomes something much more encompassing and whole;  something that suggests (no, REVEALS)  that everything is connected.

* an insight also found in Larry’ Rasmussen’s “Earth Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key”


“More devoted to ‘order’ than to justice”

December 09, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Ferguson, Occupy Theology, OWS, Theoblogical

Walter Brueggemann @FaithInFerguson On Study and “Being on the streets”

November 25, 2014 By: dlatureFB Category: Ferguson, Occupy Theology, OWS

There is also work to be done in study. Every revolutionary movement needs people who think and study and write and analyze. A revolution is not sustainable if there are only people on the street.

via Models and Authorizations: An Interview with Walter Brueggemann. — Theology of Ferguson — Medium.

Somewhere in this mention I find myself,  or wish to locate myself.  I went to Ferguson in mid-August on a day after I had made a business trip to the St. Lois area.  I took my video stuff,  and went to see what I could,  and hoped to talk to some people.

I arrived home to discover that there had been a delegation of ministers there,  meeting at a local church very involved in helping the protesters and hosting ministers from around the country who came to show their solidarity with the black community of Ferguson.  I had been disappointed with what I had not gotten.  I had hope to find some theological conversation about this tragedy,  and the ongoing reactions of the authorities in the coverup and handling of the protests.  And when I found that I had missed out on being with all those ministers,  including Brian Merritt who is a friend of mine and also had been tweeting his trip to Ferguson,  I fell into a state of discouragement about my failure to be attentive enough to my own Twitter stream that could have hooked me up to that group.  I had even heard of the church at which they were meeting because of a police raid that confiscated the church’s supply of aids for victims of tear gas.

So out of my sense of disappointment over what I did NOT get,  I posted none of the video I did get.  I told myself I’d regroup and return again.  I have yet to do so.  With the news of “no indictment” on any of the charges,  and reading a bit this morning from reactions,  I ran across this interview with Walter Brueggemann,  where he mentioned how movements need people who “think and study and write and analyze.”  I thought about how I want to help in this effort,  and do some video story telling.  I’m still not at all over how I missed out on a gold mine of people showing up to offer their presence and their encouragement and bring the good news of the gospel to bear on this situation.  Now it seems we have only the beginning of a longer effort.  In other words,  a movement that elicits many actions and protests and conversations in multiple channels of media.


The ultimate “free-riders” in global ECOnomics : The Global oligrachy #PeoplesClimate #OWS

November 16, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

A devastating neglect of nature and its requirements, matched to unprecedented wealth , are the “strongest” marks of modernity as the triumph of free-market magic. Here an irony surfaces: “Free riders” are scorned by capitalist industrial orders, yet these same orders are saddled with a free-rider problem they barely recognize. “Free riders” are those who consume more than their share of a public resource, or who shoulder less than their fair share of its costs. Because market logic treats nature as essentially worthless apart from human interest, human labor, human demand, and human use, citizens living the industrial-technological paradigm all freeload off the ecosphere. They do not pay the full costs of either its goods or its services.
–Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 174). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

But the obvious problem here is that these global elite do not consider the ecosystem as a finite resource.  For them,  it is INFINITE;  and therefore belongs to them,  the captors; the “victors” in this global economy.

This really is a great ECOtheology book.  I recommend it as a worthy textbook for seminaries to start (if they haven’t already),  an ecotheology curriculum as a way of raising our prophetic voice.  We are already at least 30 years behind on this,  since the global eco-scientists have been warning of this for at least that long.

“Creation justice is not bereft of antecedents” Larry Rasmussen #PeoplesClimate #EcoTheology

November 15, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

Creation justice is not bereft of antecedents. Indigenous peoples across the globe have tried their best since the onset of colonization, conquest, and the Industrial Revolution to say that the community of life’s own integral functioning was being violated by foreign notions of justice and human organization that did not recognize that peoples and their lands were inextricably linked together. Mother Earth and Father Sky were under assault by forces alien to their ways, but in the end Mother Earth and Father Sky would prevail. They would “bat last,” so to speak. Yet had the creation justice of these communities been acknowledged, and had their own Earth-honoring faiths been given their due, damage of apocalyptic proportion to both peoples and their lands might have been avoided.
-Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 156). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

The indigenous populations worldwide tend to know what we have lost due to blindness visited upon us by our economic paradigm.  The utilitarian, extractive habits of “civilized” people who reason that these poor ignorant and under-developed folks aren’t using so we might as well show them (and either enslave them physically or economically, employing them to help us to do so, thus creating a dependence upon us for their livelihood which helps us destroy theirs.)