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Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Keyby Larry L. Rasmussen
Synopses & Reviews
Grand Winner of the 2014 Nautilus Book Awards
Thoughtful observers agree that the planetary crisis we now face-climate change; species extinction; the destruction of entire ecosystems; the urgent need for a more just economic-political order-is pushing human civilization to a radical turning point: change or perish. But precisely how to change remains an open question.
In Earth-honoring Faith, Larry Rasmussen answers that question with a dramatically new way of thinking about human society, ethics, and the ongoing health of our planet. Rejecting the modern assumption that morality applies to human society alone, Rasmussen insists that we must derive a spiritual and ecological ethic that accounts for the well-being of all creation, as well as the primal elements upon which it depends: earth, air, fire, water, and sunlight. He argues that good science, necessary as it is, will not be enough to inspire fundamental change. We must draw on religious resources as well to make the difficult transition from an industrial-technological age obsessed with consumption to an ecological age that restores wise stewardship of all life. Earth-honoring Faith advocates an alliance of spirituality and ecology, in which the material requirements for planetary life are reconciled with deep traditions of spirituality across religions, traditions that include mysticism, sacramentalism, prophetic practices, asceticism, and the cultivation of wisdom. It is these shared spiritual practices that can produce a chorus of world faiths to counter the consumerism, utilitarianism, alienation, oppression, and folly that have pushed us to the brink.
Written with passionate commitment and deep insight, Earth-honoring Faith reminds us that we must live in the present with the knowledge that the eyes of future generations will look back at us.
Larry L. Rasmussen offers a dramatic new way of thinking about human society, ethics, and the health of our planet. Rejecting the modern ethical assumption that morality applies to human society alone, Earth-honoring Faith argues that we must derive a system of ethics and morality that accounts for the wellbeing of all creation on Earth, as well as the primal elements upon which it depends: earth, air, fire, water, and sunlight.
Rasmussen shows that religious resources are essential in the difficult transition from an industrial-technological age to an ecological one. He advocates an alliance of spirituality and ecology, in which the requirements for planetary life are reconciled with the deep traditions of spirituality across religions — mysticism, sacramentalism, asceticism, prophetic/liberative practices, and wisdom. These millennial, cross-cultural traditions are in need of their own conversion, however, if they are to be Earth-healing. Rasmussen poses critical questions: Are moral-spiritual traditions as we know them Earth-honoring or not? If not, how might they be? How might religious imagination expand the measure of the mind and heart in the service of planetary health? Who is leading the way?
Rasmussen shows that by seeking to answer these questions, we can cease confining our moral views and daily habits to human society, instead placing them in the full community of earthly life. Joined to science and technology, religious ethics can find a new key for a new geological age: the Anthropocene. As Rasmussen demonstrates, fidelity to God can be lived more fully as fidelity to God and Earth.
About the Author
Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary; winner of the 1997 Grawemeyer Award in Religion
Table of Contents
1 The Creature We Are
2 The World We Have
3 The Faith We Seek
4 The Ethic We Need: Change and Imagination
5 The Ethic We Need: Good Theory
6 The Ethic We Need: Community Matrix
7 The Ethic We Need: Tilling and Keeping
8 Asceticism and Consumerism
9 The Sacred and the Commodified
10 Mysticism and Alienation
11 Prophetic/Liberative Practices and Oppression
12 Wisdom and Folly
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