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[greenyes] Religion and Change

In response to my postings about growing levels of interests in the
environment among evangelical and other religious organizations, first
Camille responded:

Very interesting, Peter. What will happen next? We are living in a
fascinating time.

It is about time Christians took notice of the atrocities the wealthy
have created for the poor. I also like the part about the evangelicals
having to overcome credibility issues raised by other environmental

Camille Armantrout,

And then Rebecca responded to that with:

Regarding the comment that, "It is about time Christians took notice of
atrocities the wealthy have created for the poor.", I would like to
encourage all of us to be cautious and thoughtful about our broad-brushed
statements - a challenging thing to do!

My experience and education have proven to me that members of Christian
denominations, as well as members of other religious groups (and not all
members, true), have been addressing harmful environmental and social
for a very long time. They have acted against a wide variety of
environmental degradations and atrocities that have been waged over the
millennia against all of creation. It is not just the wealthy that have
created harm, and it has not just been non-religious peoples who have
against the harm. It is good that these issues continue to be addressed
all groups of peoples and hopefully, someday, there will be lifelong
in beliefs and behavior by most people, world-wide, that result in an
increase in the wholesome care-taking of creation.

Rebecca Brown

My personal feeling is that, to follow Rebecca's thread and understand the
forces at root that are going on, requires diving into deeper and more
fundamental structures of modern society, with credit to Ivan Ilych who
first showed how the fact of industrial organization itself was a far more
dominant influence in our lives than the surface question of capitalism vs.

In one sense, once civilization left the self-contained village, and the
world of specialization arose along with medium of exchange, transportation,
etc., etc., it became possible to receive the benefits of goods, while
leaving any negative consequences of its production to the place it was
made. This was not too debilitating at the time, though, until the
industrial revolution multiplied our ability to inflict significant negative
impacts on people and the environment to the point where, today, global
warming may prove be the ultimate environmental collapse (Mayans nothing)
and our final undoing.

Just like the original tribes would either overfarm or overhunt an area
before moving on, just like our founding fathers from the plantations in the
South whose tobacco and cotton depleted the soil requiring them to always
move on, and animating Jefferson to buy the Louisianna Territory for that
very utilitarian purpose, etc. etc., we relate to the starving baby in front
of our eyes, but, the way our brains our hardwired, we pay scant attention
to the injuries we mindlessly inflict on others which is out of sight.

I referenced Jefferson for a reason. We all puzzle at how the father of the
Declaration of Independence reconciled in his mind the slaves he owned and
subjagated, but we rarely think of the lives of the migrant workers today,
for example, who toil in the most execrable conditions so that we can buy
grapes for less than two bucks a pound. Jefferson's quandary is ours and few
in our daily lives in everything we do, both the rich and not so rich
amongst us as Rebecca points out, but we answer the moral question by never
asking it.

If the growing interest in religious groups to these issues is able to gain
any traction through self-revaluation with their congregations on this
score, it will be a service of untold magnitude that, we must admit,
enviornmentalists have been singularly ineffective at to date. I feel that
the key to change -- substantive and sustainable change in the hearts of men
and women -- will lie in raising these issues lightly and unthreateningly
and unaccusingly on the mind to get in under the defensive radar that we all
erect to enjoy our pleasures with the stain of guilt.

Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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