This post of mine from Sunday (and now in the previous blog post here http://ecoecclesia.org/?ecoecclesia=constantinianism-the-enabler-of-ecological-neglect) , has put me into a train of thought about something. If I were to give it a title* , it would be “Constantine and Climate Change”. It is a good introduction to this line of thought to quote the following :
“It’s hard to make a man understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.” It’s even harder to make people understand something when their whole way of life depends on them not understanding it.” ~ Derrick Jensen
This “whole way of life” thing is the underpinning narrative subject of Constantinianism. If the Church can be beckoned into the service of defending the status quo that serves the interests of the state, then that powerful cultural force has then been enlisted and made to serve Caesar, under the guise of salvation. The Bible is enlisted in that project through careful and strategic manipulation of selected passages, and strung together like some Thompson Chain Reference Bible in the form of an “American Bible” (HT to Jim Wallis for invoking that “American Bible” image back in the 80’s as Reagan-ism and Falwell-ism kicked in) . The theme that glues all those “chain references” together? The “American exceptional-isms”. Maybe a big dose of “Capitalism is the best system ever devised; it’s “lifted so many people out of poverty!”. This is designed to trump the consequences of this system upon “the rest” (aka : those outside of our immediate notice, and the rest of reality , for that matter, such as the global effects of our “exceptional” system “such as the world has never seen”) .
The bigger problem here is that this is more than just a boast of exceptionalism. It’s a sober truth that the effects of modernity upon the earth is unlike anything ever experienced by humanity.
The answer to the question of whether or not the “positives” of capitalism per the Exceptionalism narrative trump the wider effects is , of course, a big NO. You can’t speak of the kind of effects this is having (and HAS already had) and sweep that under the rug of what we prop up as the poster children of Capitalism’s “Salvific properties”. You can’t minimize the existential threat that represents by casting it as an acceptable collateral damage. Because the “collateral” is the whole ball game. Everything that we rely upon to exist is under siege and endangered. We have to be about the work of getting that through our hubristic, determined, “exceptional American” heads.
And it has become a significant part of the job of the church if it hopes to be a servant people in the Anthropocene.
Note: * and I have now that I have created this blog post out of what came out of me as a Facebook post