The Contribution of Eco-feminism and Indigenous Religions to a Theology of the Environment

Author: Janet Parsons, MA student in Global Issues in Contemporary Mission, Redcliffe College

Abstract:

In the mid-Twentieth Century in the West, the first warnings of an impending environmental
crisis went unheeded. Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, and I remember finding the
title so chilling that I avoided reading the book. Denial was rife, and denial increased as the
Information Age [1] provided us with all that we did not want to know.
In this article, I will begin with another writer’s bid to sound a warning, Lynn White’s essay on
the origins of environmental destruction, a thought-provoking indictment of Christian theology
in relation to the natural world. I will discuss the ideas of two Christian thinkers who
previously tried and failed to change the human-centeredness of Western Christianity and
consider possible reasons that developed, showing that a male-centred, anti-God and anticulture
theology existed for many of the same reasons. I will describe the views of feminist
environmentalists and their critical deconstruction of classical theology and examine their
search for an alternative cosmology of creation and theology of justice.
Primal/indigenous creation traditions will be considered and I will attempt to relate them to
eco-feminism, firstly to demonstrate that both seek justice, and secondly to show that ecotheology
is liberationist. Finally, I will make the case for the potential of radical, holistic and
populist movements to revitalise worldviews and create bridges where theology as a
discipline has failed both in its premises and its capacity to respond to the environment and
the marginalised.

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