Day 175: MLwC and the upside of Evangelical Environmentalism

Thanks goes out to Anne Shudy Palmer for directing me to an interesting article in The Grist regarding Christian Environmentalism about which I complained wrote a while back.

Anne directed me to an interview with Cal DeWitt, an evangelical environmentalist who has been working hard at building networks and communities that work to create a healthier, sustainable environment. He currently teaches environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin.

DeWitt has seen a major upsurge in evangelical participation in the environmental movement as the disconnect between individual rights and collective good comes under greater scrutiny. Regarding the potential rift between standard Republican industry bias and green sensibilities:

It is happening, and it’s going to increasingly happen. Maybe the best illustration of that, from a specific case, is Boise Vineyard Church — one of these megachurches in Boise, Idaho. The pastor there, Tri Robinson, is an interesting example of a present-day evangelical. He is, No. 1, strongly Republican. He has said, “The last election was the last in which I will be forced to chose between individual rights and the rights of creation. From now on, both of them have to be together, and the politicians should be listening.” His church’s recycling center is the only one in all of Boise. His people go up high in the mountains and restore trails.

And most encouraging is the growing lines of communication and mutual understanding between environmental groups and evangelicals:

There are meetings being held between Friends of the Earth and evangelical leaders. It’s a bit uneasy, but there’s a welcoming discussion. E.O. Wilson, for example, is interested in talking with evangelicals. There are a lot of these conversations starting now….

…40 percent of the Sierra Club is Christian. Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, is an evangelical. A lot of environmental organizations have evangelicals in them, but they’ve been quiet about it. It’s all opening up now.

And what I like most of all in this interview is the clear appraisal of the standard agenda for most Christian groups: me and my family. As if we’re running out of humans. To paraphrase DeWitt, without a healthy planet, your family is going to be basical SOL:

The focus on the individual, the focus on the family, while it was initially attractive because it addressed regaining an evangelical voice in U.S. government and U.S. policy … if you’re only focusing on the family, to the neglect of your wider community, which is eventually the whole of the biosphere and the whole of creation, you can actually do yourself in by taking too narrow of a focus. We’re moving from a focus on ourselves, which was part of the individualistic lifestyle we had been developing in America, to incorporating the whole household of life, the whole biosphere, the whole creation, without which family and individuals really can’t function at all.

Thanks Anne, for sending this–you made my day. And thanks to connectors like Cal DeWitt who are looking for common ground across all kinds of organizations.

Daily Stats (Thur)
Car: 7 miles (2 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0

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