In Chattanooga, I walk with steady steps over a pedestrian bridge that stretches over the Tennessee River, listening to the soft souls of my shoes keeping a rhythm against the worn wood. As my Instagram account can attest, almost every day, as long as my travel schedule allows, I’m drawn to river’s rich beauty and horrifying history.
The anticipated publication on Thursday of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, has American conservative Protestants up in arms. Firmly grounded in Catholic teachings on social justice, the encyclical is the culmination of half a century of Catholic thinking on the environment. Why then do American conservative evangelicals so adamantly oppose environmentalism?
Since the environmental movement’s peak in the 1970s, evangelicals have pilloried environmentalists and cast doubt on problems like global warming.
Last year as part of a faculty group book-read I encountered Larry Rasmussen’s Earth Honoring Faith. In Rasmussen’s view, sabbath is one of the resources that could be deployed to apply brakes to a society that is over-consuming the resources of the planet and the lives of its own members. The suggestion of the healing possibilities of sabbath resonated with me not only because of my environmental commitments, but also on a more human level.
The new Century editorial
offers that if the Republicans nominate Rick Santorum for president,
his regular rhetoric about poverty might challenge President Obama to
engage him on it--giving voters a chance to hear two different analyses
of the problem instead of, you know, not hearing about it all.
Somewhat more quixotically, I've found myself wondering whether there's an opportunity as well in Santorum's recent claim that environmentalism amounts to a "phony theology." Stephen Prothero's reaction is to challenge Santorum's desire to draw who's-a-real-Christian lines; Rachel Tabachnick's is to trace the "phony theology" line to the influence of the Cornwall Alliance.
points both, but what interests me here is that Santorum's comments
point to one of the basic theological questions for Christian
eco-engagement: Is the emphasis on human membership in the wider
creation or on human responsibility for it?
The only possible dialog is the kind between people who remain what they are and speak their minds. This is tantamount to saying that the world of today needs Christians who remain Christians. —Albert Camus
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