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Archive for the ‘Occupy Theology’

“eco-nomics: cultivating the material conditions for the continuation of life”

November 15, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

the very purpose of eco-nomics in the biblical world carries new force on this side of modern economics; namely, to cultivate the material conditions for the continuation of life.
Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 150). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Amen! It seems obvious, but not when you look at our present economy and the forces determined to maintain it. There is a humongous task ahead. And it will obviously take a mass movement the likes of which the world has yet  to see   (unless you consider it another in a long line of movements taken up by Christians and people of faith on behalf of the upholding of life over the history of faith movements.).

a political economy that operates with a different metabolism from that of the rest of nature

November 15, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

From Earth -Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (which would make a great textbook for a class in EcoTheology 101)

The chief obstacles will be the political-economic and sociocultural dimensions of ways of life that remain addicted to fossil fuels, that have not yet come to terms with the limits of planetary systems, that assume happiness and fulfillment are based on unending material consumption of goods and services, and that think and invest for short-term rather than long-term ends in a political economy that operates with a different metabolism from that of the rest of nature. All of these, too, belong to a moral vision, that of the industrial-technological era.
–Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 149). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

The addiction characteristics  can be seen in our present system in the way that the key substance , fossil-fuels,  is not seen as the toxin to be sharply curbed.  The constant refrain is “energy independence”  which means finding our own oil, drilling everywhere,  Keystone,  etc.  An old high school friend who works in geology told me that the Tar Sands oil “is for export and trade”,  in reply to my question about how dirty and pollutant this oil is.  The answer reveals another problem:  that we can simply “ship it elsewhere”,  ignoring a) the role the extraction itself plays in the “dirty” category,  Tar Sands being a pollutant of much higher toxicity ,  and b) the “shipping it off” for sale elsewhere merely relocates it,  but it is still going to be burned somewhere else.  No problem solved (only in the minds of the ones who want to justify this regardless of its effects).

This “different metabolism” from the rest of nature is the age-old problem, present from the very beginnings of techno-extraction and emissions.  Not only has the technology become increasingly overloading to the ecology of the planet,  the assumptions of the resulting economies have become increasingly ingrained and ideologies surrounding them, “ordained” and “natural” to that way of thinking.  It’s a truly intimidating challenge we face,  especially given the level of “entrenchment” we are seeing with this Republican Party being conduits for money/oil interests’ “education” efforts via think tanks who devise “arguments” against the scientific findings.

Given this,  Rasmussen communicates the sense of urgency we need:

Ours is an industrial and postindustrial planet that is human-dominated, resource-stressed, environmentally degraded, and on the move. That said, the oikos conception of Earth , with creation’s integrity at its core, is perhaps more timely than ever. Certainly a spirituality and ethic for the long haul is needed, one that receives life as a gift and knows our place in creation.
Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 150). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.


Obama has some catching up to do on ACTIONS and POLICIES re: Climate Change

November 13, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

Bill McKibben published his thoughts on what the deal with China means and doesn’t mean. One stood out forme.

It is not remotely enough to keep us out of climate trouble

via The Big Climate Deal: What It Is, and What It Isn’t | Bill McKibben

We need to rid ourselves and our leaders from the notion that “finally” we’re actually doing something significant.  Indeed,  SOMETHING is very obviously better than nothing,  but the question we now have to heed is “What is enough?” and the answer is NOTHING.  All we can do is do EVERYTHING possible to avoid the worst.  The real “heresy” to our system is that we have to “leave trillions of fossil fuels IN THE GROUND”,  and that means forfeiting dollars.  But fortunately (hopefully “fortunately”)  those aren’t the ONLY dollars.  There are dollars in alternatives,  meaning JOBS, and REAL measures to produce and develop RETOOLING to turn this around.  We won’t be able to avoid what has already been done to the ecosphere.  And some of what we have done over the years is still pending as to its more visible consequences (visible at least to the public pysche,  unlike to that of the people who study this and see far more than we have been passed by the majority of the media.)

Hopefully,  this is another sign that more and more of the facts we need will be allowed through to be pondered and thus “allowed to sink in”,  so that this will become a larger and larger movement.

McKibben puts it most appropriately:

It isn’t, in other words, a reason to slack off a bit in the ongoing fight for a livable climate, a fight our civilizations are in great danger of losing.If we want this to be a start, and not a finish, we’ve got to build even bigger and more powerful movements that push the successors of these gentlemen to meet what science demands. Today’s an achievement for everyone who’s held a banner, signed a petition, and gone to jail — and a call for many more to join us going forward!

Sam Harris vs Karen Armstrong

November 12, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: Islam, Occupy Theology, Theoblogical

Karen Armstong wrote this:   to which Harris has posted a rather rude, incomplete,  shallow retort in the style of his usual blanket assertions about the inanities of religion and the superiority of his New Atheism.

I am hopeful that Armstrong’s winsome depiction of Islam will shame and enlighten them, as it has me. They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom, while we are ignorant bigots who know nothing of theology (of course), politics (Christopher, are you listening?), human nature (what’s to know?), or the proper limits of science (um … narrower?).

via The God Fraud : : Sam Harris.

Nice, Sam.  You say : “They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom”   ,  also something Armstrong doesn’t come anywhere close to saying.  So who’s being hyperbolic , here?

And then ,  it’s right back into the straw man arguments Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens are and were fond of:

I can’t quite remember how we got it into our heads that jihad was linked to violence. – Harris

And since Armstrong also spends a great deal of time and text exploring the ACTUAL history of “jihad” ,  INCLUDING the occurrences AND THE HISTORY OF THE VIOLENT STRANDS,  that is a particularly OBTUSE way of scrapping her entire argument in favor of the ones you intend to perpetrate in the first place.

Then Harris launches in to his usual diatribe,  cataloguing the instances of human sacrifice.

I hope that Armstrong will soon apply her capacious understanding of human nature to these phenomena.

But she did and has, Sam.  But you stay with your winning narrative; ‘Winning” in it’s capacity to draw the applause of gleeful New Atheists worldwide.  You seem adverse to ACTUAL socio-historical analysis.

Basically,  Harris is here,  as he often is,  a sarcastic jerk.  He detracts from any balanced philosophical, socratic approach he may well be capable of employing.

Armstrong need only reply with one answer,  as she does:

Like many religious people, I do not believe in demons. I abhor violence of any kind, be it verbal or physical, religious or secular.

But Harris proceeds on as if he’s never been confronted with such obviously challenging and confronting claims.  He sticks with the same , tired, applause lines.

More from Armstrong:

To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.

In the past, theologians such as Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Rahner, and Paul Tillich enjoyed fruitful conversations with atheists and found their theology enriched by the encounters. We desperately need such interchange today. A truly Socratic dialogue with atheists could help to counter many of the abuses of faith that Harris so rightly deplores.

Harris is also seemingly oblivious (or conveniently obtuse) about Armstrong’s main point (yea, even in the subtitle does she point it out):

why secularism is almost as much of a threat to the world as fundamentalism

Harris simply ignores this.  I also suspect that his obtuseness here is not necessarily intentional.  It is a matter of simply not getting it (because he seems not to have read her at all….except that his habit of returning right back to his straw man arguments about religion could well be the culprit….but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he DID read her at length,  in which case he simply reduced her to the same narrow confines that he has set out in the first place.





The staggering irresponsibility of Imhofe’s Climate -denying “God is up there” #PeoplesClimate #EcoTheology

November 12, 2014 By: Dale Lature G+ Category: ecotheology, Occupy Theology, OWS, People's Climate

Senator Inhofe (set to become the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee)   quoted the Bible (Genesis 8:22) to support his thesis. “My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” he said.

Genesis 8:22  
22 As long as the earth endures,

    seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
    shall not cease.”
– New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 Oh , my word.  The literalist strikes again.  Reminds me of the old argument that the Sun revolved around the earth,  based on a similar passage,  taken cluelessly literal.

Imhofe has it exactly BACKWARDS.  “To think that we, human beings,  would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous”.  No,  what is outrageous is MISSING the message throughout ALL of Scripture that life is interdependent and interwoven,  and that we have responsibility as STEWARDS.  “To have dominion” is in the sense of a responsible, just King over his subjects.  To take the LITERAL here (“domination”) is to ignore WHY the word “dominion” came to be used to describe the “kingdoms” of “rulers”.  That very question is embedded in the quarrels between God and the Israelites over the desire to have a “king”.  God was against it.  The message is clear:  God intended the People of God to be of a different order than what the world knows as “Kingdom” or “Nation”.  The “dominion” God desires is one where “the kingdoms of this earth have become the Kingdom of our Lord”;  one where the “Sacrifice that God desires” is “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

But like the saying goes,   “One will have a difficulty understanding something when his livelihood depends on his not understanding it”.  This can apply to the entire project of the selective literalist interpretative schools.  The most “convenient” Biblical interpretation to disseminate to the masses is one which communicates a congruence with the earth resources as “product” to be taken as booty to feed the machines of progress.  The earth as ecosystem is made subservient to the economic system.

The outrage  is to turn the Biblical message on its head and insist that the earth is OURS as owners,  as exploiters in an “I-It” relation rather than an “I-Thou” and an “I-as-participant-with-Thou”.  To suggest that the earth is LIMITLESS in its ecosystem is to suggest that the Biblical writers had ANY INKLING of what technological reach humankind was to have in the centuries and millinea to come.  (Which is one reason why “An omniscient all-knowing God”  who dictates word for word the content of the Bible — and therefore it is to be taken as “science clues” about the nature of creation — has taken such hold.  Reminds me of the movie “The Book of Eli” where the Bible was sought out by the malevolent, greedy forces that ruled part of the post-Apocalyptic planet,  as a means of population control.  The “message” was to be cast in a light which “proves” the right to rule of the interpreters.  And so Western powers REALLY LIKE the dualisms of the Greeks,  where spirit and matter are put at odds in the great battle between good and evil.

To deny the challenge to human hubris that should be plain with even a traditional “Read Through the Bible” (ie Babel, Noah,  etc.)  is to write yet another tale of the capacity of human societies to let greed and hubris take over the driver’s seat and proceed with reckless abandon.  We could add the likes of Imhofe as one of those stories that continue the history of humankind’s insistence that “success” = “might” – “right”.   But we have science that now brings home the message that we have again trespassed beyond the bounds of responsibility (and have been for AT LEAST the 80’s – which is only when we began to see clear indications of what was happening to the ecosystem).

Again,  a clear and present danger;  A call to re-examine “First Works” (as Larry Rasmussen says in his wonderful ecotheological work, “Earth-Honoring Faith”, where Rasmussen draws from James Baldwin’s The Price of the Ticket:

In the church I come from— which is not at all the same church to which white Americans belong— we were counseled, from time to time, to do our first works over. Go back to where you started, or as far back as you can, examine all of it, travel your road again and tell the truth about it. Sing or shout or testify or keep it to yourself but know whence you came. 6
Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 44). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Rasmussen goes on to elaborate:

our first works construct the mindsets and sensibilities with which we attend to the world in the first place. If we benefit from that world, our first works also flatter us with biases that favor us and turn our good luck and advantages into achievements we’re certain we’ve earned. Our motherboard is hardwired to favor the results we desire.
Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 45). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

(the notation – number 6 above in the first quotation which is from Baldwin –  is also very instructive:

James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948– 1985 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985), xix. Baldwin was not sanguine about white Americans’ ability to do their first works over. In a dialogue with Reinhold Niebuhr at the time of the civil rights movement, he had this to say: “The only people in this country at the moment who believe either in Christianity or in the country are the most despised minority in it …. It is ironical … the people who were slaves here, the most beaten and despised people here … should be at this moment … the only hope this country has …. None of the descendants of Europe seem to be able to do, or have taken it on themselves to do, what Negroes are now trying to do. And this is not a chauvinistic or racial outlook. It probably has something to do with the nature of life itself. It forces you, in any extremity, any extreme, to discover what you really live by, whereas most Americans have been for so long, so safe and so sleepy, that they don’t any longer have any real sense of what they live by. I think they really think it may be Coca-Cola.” From the audiotape of the dialogue, n.d., as reported by James H. Cone in The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011), 54.
Rasmussen, Larry L. (2012-10-02). Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (p. 375). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

If it is true that “Our motherboard is hardwired to favor the results we desire.” ,  we have some hacking to do.