Sacred Mountains: A Christian Ethical Approach to Mountaintop Removal

Sacred Mountains: A Christian Ethical Approach to Mountaintop Removal

by Andrew R. H. Thompson


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On a misty morning in eastern Kentucky, cross-bearing Christians gather for a service on a surface-mined mountain. They pray for the health and renewal of the land and for their communities, lamenting the corporate greed of the mining companies. On another day, in southern West Virginia, Andrew Jordon hosts Bible study in a small cabin overlooking a disused 1,400-acre surface mine. He believes his efforts to reclaim sites like these represent responsible environmental stewardship.

In Sacred Mountains, Andrew R. H. Thompson highlights scenes such as these in order to propose a Christian ethical analysis of the controversial mining practice that has increasingly divided the nation and has often led to fierce and even violent confrontations. Thompson draws from the arguments of H. Richard Niebuhr, whose work establishes an ideal foundation for understanding Appalachia. Thompson provides a thorough introduction to the issues surrounding surface mining, including the environmental consequences and the resultant religious debates, and highlights the discussions being carried out in the media and by scholarly works. He also considers five popular perspectives (ecofeminism, liberation theology, environmental justice, environmental pragmatism, and political ecology) and offers his own framework and guidelines for moral engagement with the subject.

Thompson's arguments add to the work of other ethicists and theologians by examining the implications of culture in a variety of social, historical, and religious contexts. A groundbreaking and nuanced study that looks past the traditionally conflicting stereotypes about religion and environmental consciousness in Appalachia, Sacred Mountains offers a new approach that unifies all communities, regardless of their beliefs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813165998
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 12/18/2015
Series: Place Matters: New Directions in Appalachian Studies
Pages: 212
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Andrew R. H. Thompson is assistant director of the Center for Religion and Environment and postdoctoral fellow in environmental ethics at Sewanee's School of Theology. He has contributed chapters to The Changing World Religions Map: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices, and Politics; Life-Widening Mission: Global Anglican Perspectives; and Edinburgh 2010: Mission Today and Tomorrow.

Table of Contents

Preface: Ethics in Its Place ix

Introduction: Overturning Mountains 1

1 Downstream Impacts: Environmental, Economic, and Social Effects of Mountaintop Removal 17

2 Environmental Ethics and the Construction of Values 33

3 Relation, Revelation, and Revolution: A Theocentric Approach to Mountaintop Removal 57

4 The Meanings of the Mountains; Discourses of Power, Identity, and Destruction in the Mountaintop Removal Debate 81

5 All My Holy Mountain: Power, Identity, and Reclamation from a Theocentric Perspective 105

6 Loving the Mountains: Conclusions, Challenges, and Ways Forward 127

Acknowledgments 153

Notes 155

Bibliography 179

Index 189

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