I apologize for part 3‘s long delay. Life has a weird way of detouring the best laid plans.
by Bo Sanders
I left off in part 2 by imagining what might be on the other side of the ‘bridge’ after we get past the two trolls of colonial christianity and environmental dualism. My hope is that there is a different way to be in the world.
I admit that we can’t go back. We can’t undo Colonization. We aren’t going back to family farms. We can’t refreeze the polar ice caps or re-create the Glaciers in Glacier National Park. As they say ‘we shall not pass this way again’.
My hope is not to reclaim some previous ideal of human community. My desire is to explore a realistic assessment of what is possible (and preferable) given the past developments and as-is structures of existence.
Here are three groups/conversations that give me a little hope:
The Environmental-Philosophical crowd. People like Bill McKibben have been sounding the alarm for quite a while and have since moved to talking about a radically different planet termed “Eaarth” in which we will need to go small and local.
On a larger scale, our whole civilization stands on the edge of collapse because the data inputted into our risk management models come from the last couple of hundred years, a very atypical time. A giddy time, high on oil… Our time, on every front, has been marked by the dizzying Alice-on-her-first-pill explosion in the size of the human enterprise. For almost all of human history, our society was small and nature was large; in a few brief decades that key ratio has reversed. – p. 105
Native Communities: Three years ago I got to take part in two conferences that altered the way I see the world and think about the future. The first was the Theology of the Land conference at George Fox Seminary. The second was a NAIITS gathering at the George Fox undergrad campus. Randy Woodley continues to be a voice of reason and reconciliation in an increasingly complex environment. I am anxiously anticipating the release of his newest book this year that deals with the concept of Shalom and Creation.
Process and Eco-Feminist Theology: Last month I helped organize an event that brought together the Emergent church and Process theology. One of the key folks in that conversation is John Cobb, author of Spiritual Bankruptcy. Cobb’s and others in the conversation are deeply involved in both ecology and economy from a theological perspective. I was greatly encouraged to hear about projects from around the country of communities taking seriously the reality we find ourselves in. From small neo-monastic communities to universities to political & civil engagements, there is a growing awareness that something has got to change.
- The way that we have lived
- the rate at which we have used resources
- the expectations for perpetual growth
- and economic prosperity
have exhausted creation and bankrupted modern human civilization.
This is not a ‘the sky is falling’ mentality. This is a ‘new reality’ perspective that the damage is done and we can not go back or turn back the clock. This just is the way it is now. But if global capitalism, and its mutant offspring – consumerism, continue to go unchecked … let me say it a different way: the church has a message and a historic practice that can engage voices of health and community. Unfortunately, the church herself has been seduced and gone into the business of supply and demand. Those days need to come to an end. It betrays her calling and compromises her message.
The first step is to repent of the Cartesian dualism and the second is to resign from the colonial impulse. After that we can embrace the truth that we are both a product of and a participant in nature and that mutually edifying, inter-connected, trans-national, multi-racial community is our hope for the future.
The expectation of one big global community is ruining us. The future is small, diverse, multiple, and interdependent.