The Great Work of Ecological Civilization

Someone just tweeted a link to Bill McKibben’s first Climate book, “The End of Nature”, which was published/released Jan. 1, 1989. Their tweet said “Should have listened to you in 1989”.

It got me thinking about how that was just a couple of months prior to the birth of our first child. And it was prior to the Internet becoming what it is today (actually , 1989 was the year that HTML became the spec language for the Internet). The Internet was to become the structure on which I built my upcoming career in Church Communications, which began professionally when I moved to Nashville in 1997 to become the first fulltime Web person at the United Methodist Publishing House.

So, I wonder what it would have been like, had I read THEN (instead of many years later as I began gorging on everything Ecological, especially things Ecological and Theological) , in 1989, 8 years prior, and having spent 8 years doing all the reading and reflecting and internalizing the Ecological Crisis. If I had internalized then, what I ended up NOT doing until 2014 —sometime either during and or right after reading Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate”— would I have been considered coming off as “too toxic” with my alarm and concern regarding the “coming Crisis”?

Since I seem to be so even now; even 25+ years , later, knowing all the additional things we know NOW after the passing of those 25 years, I suppose I would have. There would certainly be far fewer theological types drawing the connections (even though I know now that there was John Cobb, who had already written, 25 years BEFORE that —in 1972— a book called “Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology”). The question presents itself now much like it did then: How much is it going to take to evoke the key amount of alarm and recognition of the crisis we face which will FINALLY be the “tipping point” for a significant groundswell of activity that finally does open up the floodgates of action to hearken in the new age of “The Great Work” which Thomas Berry spoke of.

Sadly, and maddeningly, we are still asking “When will we get over this hump that keeps us enslaved to the ways of our civilization that have brought us here?” When will we truly begin to build that “Ecological Civilization”? (I picked up my copy of that “Is It Too Late?” book by John Cobb when I attended a 4 day conference in Claremont CA that was funded largely by John Cobb himself, in 2015, and entitled:
“Seizing An Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization”)
I have since made an intimate connection between “The Kingdom of God” and this vision of “Ecological Civilization”.

Also, alternatively, to “The Beloved Community”, where this is a term/vision considered a preferential title* to the vision Jesus taught and preached. The Church needs a theological Reformation around bringing to bear on ALL of our theologizing and preaching and teaching and writing and striving for implementing justice in this world, this calling to direct serious attention and priority to Ecological Civilization as a REQUIRED centerpiece to ALL of our appeals to repentance and building a better world.

*”Preferential” because of the negative connotations of “Kingdom” as oppressive (which Jesus very likely had in mind, which is why he took that concept and turned it on it’s head, in revolutionary jest, much like also when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a warrior/stallion).
But the objection to “Kingdom” is also not lost on me, and “Beloved Community” does present , up front, a healthier image, especially for those either not immediately cognizant of the irony/intentional contrast, or simply preferring the more descriptive and the immediate emphasis upon positive/fulfilling/ideal for human relationships.

About dlature

Developer and researcher of all things social tech, with particular focus on helping church orgs leverage all the best tools and think about Social Graph data

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