Sacramental Commons: Christian Ecological Ethics

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The increasing awareness of environmental issues as ultimately moral issues has led to the intersection of religion and environment. Sacramental Commons presents a unique way of looking at this topic by relating the Christian word "sacrament" (signs of divine presence) to the term "commons" (shared place and shared goods, among people and between people and the natural world), suggesting that local natural settings and local communities can be a source for respect and compassion. Sacramental Commons uses Earth-oriented biblical teachings, and ideas from such thinkers as Hildegard, St. Francis, John Muir, and Black Elk, to provide insights about divine immanence in creation, human commitments to creation, and human accountability to the Spirit, Earth, and biotic community. It extends the concept of "natural rights" beyond humans to include all nature, and affirms intrinsic value in ecosystems in whole and in part. Sacramental Commons declares that the Earth commons and its goods should be shared equitably by human communities and individuals living in interdependent relationships with other members of the community of life. It suggests essential values that will stimulate care for the commons, and embodies them in principles of an innovative Christian Ecological Ethics.

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Editorial Reviews

James A. Nash
Sacramental Commons is itself a sacramental occasion. Through John Hart's religiously and morally sensitive reflections, we can discern the natural signs of the Spirit's creative love and, consequently, our responsibilities to sustain the integrity of Earth's sacred habitats and inhabitants. The keynote in Hart's moral vision is a central demand of the Age: the integration of the social and ecological common goods.
William Means
Sacramental Commons reminds people that Indigenous Peoples' struggles for sovereignty and human rights continue today. John Hart honors the life and teachings of Phillip Deere and David Sohappy, spiritual leaders and healers who promoted justice for Indigenous Peoples and respect for Mother Earth. In their spirit, all people should walk with the Creator and care for our sacred Mother Earth. Mitakuye Oyasin . We are all related.
From the Afterword by Thomas Berry
John Hart has taken a leadership role in bringing Western religious traditions to support a more integral human-Earth presence to each other. In Sacramental Commons , John Hart provides a substantial contribution to the Great Work.
From the Foreword by Leonardo Boff
The importance of John Hart's contribution is that he recovers natural sacraments and joins them to social sacraments. Discussing a sacramental vision of the world as John Hart does helps to create a new spirituality, that is, a new experience of the Spirit acting within everything. At the same time, he offers a valuable contribution for a culture to appreciate the sacrality of creation and learn to respect it and care for it as it is in itself and as it is in communion with us.
Holmes Rolston
Sacramental Commons is a comprehensive vision of Earth as a natural sacrament. Hart produces an ecological systematic theology, or, better, an ecosystemic theology integrated into a sacramental social ecology. It is unexcelled as a genuinely Catholic and catholic (universal) vision of who we are, where we are, and what we ought to do.
Elie Wiesel
Sacramental Commons is thoughtful, perceptive and insightful.
Mary Evelyn Tucker
John Hart is a leading theologian in the field of ecological ethics. Sacramental Commons is an indispensable contribution for deepening the Christian commitment to the flourishing of the Earth community. We are all in his debt.
Summer 2008 Environmental Ethics
It comes highly recommended....Hart's apprach is...a fresh update....Hart gives his readers an encounter with process thought unencumbered with obtuse jargon....Hart is to be thanked for providing new, useful, beautifully written exposition of process thought and the ethical outlook that flows from it, blessedly unencumbered by the jargon that is sometimes found among the process thinkers. Hart has written an accessible book for the general reader laying out a framework for understanding our place in the cosmos in harmony with science and a new articulation of a Christian ethical system capable of addressing our accelerating planetary crisis. In a world where one in three human are Christian, such a book is a welcome addition to ongoing ethical reflections.
October 2008 Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
John Hart has written an invaluable contribution to the field of religion and environmental ethics....A work worthy of careful, reflective, and embodied attention.
Lisa Sowle Cahill
Sacramental Commons is a creative new call for all faith traditions to forge a common practice of reverence and care for the earth and its inhabitants. Grounded in a Catholic Christian sense of creation's sacramental disclosure of the sacred, it sings with an ecumenical spirituality of amazement, celebration, and transcendence. Hart does not minimize the conflict and suffering that often arise from competition in the natural world. Yet he shows the way to an engaged and participatory politics of reconciliation and change, favoring the just coexistence of all earth creatures. This book ranges widely in theology and ethics and would be suitable for a university or seminary theology or ethics course, as well as for general readers who seek to link faith traditions with the ecological challenges of globalization.
E. O. Wilson
Sacramental Commons is an important and inspirational contribution to what Thomas Berry has called the Great Work. Working from deep Christian theology and philosophy, it explains the spiritual content not only of our own lives but also of the material world into which we were born, and to which we owe stewardship. This is an important work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742545991
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/27/2006
  • Series: Nature's Meaning Series
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Hart is Professor of Christian Ethics at Boston University, teaching courses in social ethics, environmental ethics, liberation theology, science and Christianity, and social and ecological justice. His other books include What Are They Saying About...Environmental Theology?, Ethics and Technology: Innovation and Transformation in Community Contexts, and The Spirit of the Earth-A Theology of the Land.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Dedication Part 2 Acknowledgements Part 3 Introduction: Sacramental Creation Chapter 4 Part 1. Creation Part 5 1. Sacramental Universe Part 6 2. The Spirit of St. Francis Part 7 3. Native Spirits Chapter 8 Part 2. Commons Part 9 4. Sacramental Commons Part 10 5. Living Water Part 11 6. Species Survival Chapter 12 Part 3. Community Part 13 7. Nature's Natural Rights Part 14 8. Commons Good, Common Good and Common Goods Part 15 9. Job, Injustice and Dynamic Nature Chapter 16 Part 4. Common Ground Part 17 10. Jubilee in the Commons Part 18 11. Commons Commitments: Ecological Ethics Part 19 12. Spirit, Commons and Community Part 20 Selected Bibliography Part 21 Index

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