Ecological Ethics

I’ve been working through a course on ethics with theology students in AQP, including a section on ecological ethics. Simultaneously working on the next issue of Missio Dei on “watershed discipleship”—a bioregional Christian response to our current ecological situation. I’m a newcomer to the ecological conversation, but my initial response, in the context of a broader view of Christian ethics, is that it looks like it will be analogous in my generation to the American civil rights movement. Except that it’s a global conversation. As I write these words, I know that to some they will seem like the most obvious statement possible and to others they will reek of dramatic overstatement. But that is part of the analogy. The profound change of lifestyle and reordering of relationships that ecological ethics entail will be led (only in part but critically) by some Christians who have the moral imagination necessary to follow Jesus into a reconciled relationship with creation. A great deal of Christianity, however, will spend the next generation little by little making public apologies for moral failure and delayed response. The former is what interests me—not the unlikely attempt to avoid the latter. How do we recognize those with eyes to see a different future? Because what matters ultimately is that the prophetic word be spoken into the present, even by a fragile few. I say this as the farthest thing from an activist. As far as I can tell, repentance is going to be inconvenient, painful, costly, uncertain, dangerous, and discouraging all at the same time. On a personal level, I’m rather repelled by it. But I’m trying to listen to those who are already further along the way. Trying to hear. I confess, it’s disconcerting.

Ecological Ethics

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