Christians didn’t baptize Aldo Leopold’s land ethic after the fact. They got there years before his work.
Our beliefs inform how we live, how we order our priorities, how we spend our time and money, and how we vote. The recent papal encyclical takes this as given.
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.
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. Good 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?