From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date sent: Mon, 04 Mar 1996 14:21:11 EST Subject: Impact of Christian attitudes on the environment
Greetings. I 'm Dean Ohlman. I've been a lurker on the list for about three weeks and felt it was about time I stepped out of the shadows for a post or two. I am not a professional historian. My vocation is writer and editor (of our college magazine). My avocation, however, is writing and researching in the area of Christian environmental ethics. What lured me into the open were the recent exchanges on attitudes and private property.
Those are the two areas that I have been concentrating on for quite some time. A close friend here at Cornerstone College (Grand Rapids, MI) is, in fact, doing his dissertation on religious views and attitudes in reference to environmental issues.
As a Christian I am very interested in the role played by others of like faith through the centuries. I am fifty-three and was a college student in the early sixties and a college instructor/administrator in the late sixties -- in a very conservative evangelical Bible college. My first exposure to the belief that Christianity was the culprit in the environmental crisis was the reaction of many Christians to the article by UCLA professor Lynn White Jr. in -Science- magazine of March 10, 1967 titled: "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis."
As has been pointed out many times since, while White was very likely correct in his assessment of the predominant attitudes of Christendom -- institutionalized and adulterated traditions of those who call themselves Christian, he was incorrect in assuming that the Christian scriptures support such attitudes.
In fact, I have personally undergone a sort of "conversion" from the views of Christendom to the truly biblical views of authentic Christianity and am embarrassed to think how wrong I was through much of my youth.
I would appreciate any information this forum can provide me on how the current environmental history community views the impact of Christianity on the environment. I am aware of and have been impressed by the book "Caring for Creation" by environmental ethicist Max Oelschlaeger and some of the astute observations by Jeremy Rifkin.
I personally am trying to change attitudes in the conservative evangelical community by lecturing in conferences and in our college and affiliated seminary (Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary). In particular I have developed materials at about the college freshman level on the biblical foundations of creation stewardship. In addition I have developed two sets of principles for Christians who "own" property and for those who "develop" property that seek to apply biblical principles to these areas. If anyone is interested, I can e-mail these to you for critique. I will be presenting them in a conference in Chattanooga in the spring.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
"Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
T.S. Eliot, 1934
Date sent: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 13:11:03 -0600 From: email@example.com Subject: Re: Impact of Christian attitudes on the environment
On Mar. 4, Dean Ohlman sent a question regarding works on Christianity and the environment. Allow me to refer you to my 1993 dissertation, "Protestantism, Capitalism, and Nature in the United States," University of Texas at Austin. It has been revised for the University of New Mexico Press and should be on their Spring 1997 list. In the meantime, the revised introduction and a newly written final chapter (not in the original dissertation) can be accessed via the World Wide Web at http://www.it.stewards.edu/bss/stoll/pcn.htm.
Austin, Texas 78704
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 14:52:03 -0600 Subject: Re: Impact of Christian attitudes on the environment From: RH4754@cnsvax.albany.edu
Very quickly, you might want
to look at Hall's book, the title of which I can't remember, though it is published by Eerdman's, on environmental stewardship. He is a Professor of Christian Theology at McGill. He attempts to redefine dominion and domination through the prism of stewardship as demanded by Christ, a stewardship defined by agape.
The US Catholic Bishops issued an interesting letter on how Christians should interact with the environment.
By and large I agree with the contention of Nash, in his book *Wilderness and the American Mind*, that Christianity and its traditional interpretations of the relevant passages in the Old and New Testaments, have had a negative impact on western wilderness notions, negative if you believe that they have led to environmental devestation. Donald Worster's essay on John Muir in his book *The Wealth of Nature*, is a more nuanced treatment of the issue. In this essay Worster notes the negative legacy of Christianity, but he goes on to suggest that Muir's upbringing in a dissident protestant sect, manely Campbellitism, was instrumental in making him into an environmentalist.
Worster also raises questions about the romanticisation of nonwestern religions and their logic of human-environmental relations. He uses the story of a young US pacifist freeing dolphins about to be killed in Japan, as exemplary on non-western negative environmental attitudes.
Hope this helps.
Department of History
University at Albany
Albany, NY 12222
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 17:08:54 -0600 Subject: Impact of Christian attitudes on the environment From: "KATHLEEN PAGAN" <KATHLEEN@VIVALDI.emu.edu.tr>
I suggest looking at reports by Bread for the World Institute (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org/ tele. (301)608-2400).
The Sixth Annual Report on the State of World Hunger 'Countries in Crisis' includes information on landmines: "Estimates of the number of landmines scattered in 62 countries range from 65 million to more than 120 million. This works out to one mine for every 50 to 85 people on earth." Also, "The American Red Cross has estimated that mines cause more than 800 deaths and 450 injuries every month. Civilians account for 80 percent of the deaths and maimings due to land mines since 1975."
Bread for the World lobbies for hunger relief.
Paul Theroux has written, 'We are stuck with this mildly poisoned planet and its smoky air. We are in for hunger and hard work, the highest stage of poverty.'
Kathleen Walston Pagan, AICP
Eastern Mediterranean University
*For identification only* 1996
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