Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key


Thoughtful observers agree that the planetary crisis we now face-climate change; species extinction; the destruction of entire ecosystems; the urgent need for a more just economic-political order-is pushing human civilization to a radical turning point: change or perish. But precisely how to change remains an open question.

In Earth-honoring Faith, Larry Rasmussen answers that question with a dramatically new way of thinking about human society, ethics, and the ongoing health ...

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Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key

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Thoughtful observers agree that the planetary crisis we now face-climate change; species extinction; the destruction of entire ecosystems; the urgent need for a more just economic-political order-is pushing human civilization to a radical turning point: change or perish. But precisely how to change remains an open question.

In Earth-honoring Faith, Larry Rasmussen answers that question with a dramatically new way of thinking about human society, ethics, and the ongoing health of our planet. Rejecting the modern assumption that morality applies to human society alone, Rasmussen insists that we must derive a spiritual and ecological ethic that accounts for the well-being of all creation, as well as the primal elements upon which it depends: earth, air, fire, water, and sunlight. He argues that good science, necessary as it is, will not be enough to inspire fundamental change. We must draw on religious resources as well to make the difficult transition from an industrial-technological age obsessed with consumption to an ecological age that restores wise stewardship of all life. Earth-honoring Faith advocates an alliance of spirituality and ecology, in which the material requirements for planetary life are reconciled with deep traditions of spirituality across religions, traditions that include mysticism, sacramentalism, prophetic practices, asceticism, and the cultivation of wisdom. It is these shared spiritual practices that can produce a chorus of world faiths to counter the consumerism, utilitarianism, alienation, oppression, and folly that have pushed us to the brink.

Written with passionate commitment and deep insight, Earth-honoring Faith reminds us that we must live in the present with the knowledge that the eyes of future generations will look back at us.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In many ways Earth-Honoring Faith resembles an intricate, colorful song played by a vast collection of deft instrumentalists. Rasmussen is a master at tying together a large number of resources and perspectives, each carefully tuned to play the right notes. Persuasively, even lyrically, he has assembled a grand orchestra to inspire deep reflection and animate meaningful practice." —The Christian Century

"This book is important, timely, sorely needed and deeply prophetic- delivering a hard, truthful indictment of the world as it is, but also suggesting visionary, hopeful Earth-honoring ways forward... yes, you should, you need , to read this." —Journal of Lutheran Ethics

"Larry Rasmussen has once again penned a masterwork uniting ecological ethics and religious practices broadly envisioned. If the Earth is to survive, ethical theory and spiritual praxis are equally vital. Science informs. Religions motivat. A transformation combining these concepts is urgently needed at this moment in time on our planet." —Catholic Books Review

"He [Rasmussen] writes extremely well, with elegance and eloquence, and weaves poetry, narrative, and personal stories into a tapestry informed by keen ethical insight and analysis. His treatment of power relations in the economy and of consumerism is masterful. This book is a must for anyone interested in the environment who is not willing to settle for lazy aphorisms and superficial panaceas." —CHOICE

"This book is a tour-de-force, bringing together theological reflection and ethical persuasion to argue for the transformation of religions into their ecological phase. Larry Rasmussen is eloquent, comprehensive, and compelling in his articulation of a vision that is sorely needed for our emerging Earth Community."—Mary Evelyn Tucker, Co-Director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University

"Larry Rasmussen's new work on religious ethics moves from a lyrical homage to the sacred web of life to a searing indictment of the utilitarian use of nature by both capitalist and socialist industrialization. Drawing on mystical, prophetic, and wisdom traditions, Rasmussen shows that a paradigm shift to an ecologically conscious civilization is possible. Inspired by local communities, an earth-honoring faith becomes a song of songs."—Aruna Gnanadason, author of Listen to the Women, Listen to the Earth

"Rasmussen argues persuasively that religion needs to stop perceiving nature as the stage for the human salvation drama and view it instead as the locus for experience of the divine. His scholarship is impeccable and his ability to weave together insights from various fields and scholars is exemplary. Earth-honoring Faith is a grand intellectual endeavor that reflects interdisciplinary thinking at its best."—Jim Martin-Schramm, Professor of Religion, Luther College

"By writing so lyrically and in open conversation with so many others struggling to create language for this civilizational transition, Larry Rasmussen shows the awkwardness of inherited language and ideas for discussing the new moral world that humanity needs to learn to inhabit. He demonstrates how to make sense of ancient moral traditions in a new context, and how to bend them into a new imagination of the world. This book is a serious contribution to religious ethics. It will be appreciated not only by scholars in the field but by many thinking readers worried about sustainability crises and looking for cultural resources to reshape our shared moral imagination."—Willis Jenkins, author of Ecologies of Grace

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199917006
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/2/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 458,962
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 3.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry L. Rasmussen is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary and winner of the 1997 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. He is the author of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Reality and Resistance and the co-editor of Earth Habitat: New Dimensions of Church and Community in Creation.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Prelude

1 The Creature We Are
2 The World We Have
3 The Faith We Seek
4 The Ethic We Need: Change and Imagination
5 The Ethic We Need: Good Theory
6 The Ethic We Need: Community Matrix
7 The Ethic We Need: Tilling and Keeping Interlude

8 Asceticism and Consumerism
9 The Sacred and the Commodified
10 Mysticism and Alienation
11 Prophetic/Liberative Practices and Oppression
12 Wisdom and Folly
13 Closing Postlude

Notes Bibliography Index

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