Friday, August 19, 2011

Robert Jensen, "Nature Bats Last: Radical Political Theology"

"The phrase 'nature bats last' circulates these days among people who have their eye on the multiple, cascading ecological crises. The metaphor reminds us that nature is the home team and has the final word. We humans may be particularly impressed with our own achievements - all of the spectacular homeruns we have hit with science and technology - but when those achievements are at odds with how nature operates, then nature is going to bring in the ultimate designated hitter and knock the human race out of the ballpark. The point is simple: We are not as powerful as the forces that govern that larger living world. So, we need to see beyond the egotistical rhetoric of our technological fundamentalism - the claims that infinitely clever humans will solve all problems with gadgets - and end the human war on the rest of the living world.

The radical political theology I believe we need for this moment in history would acknowledge, rather than try to mask, our confusion and uncertainty. Facing that takes a new kind of courage. We usually think of courage as rooted in clarity and certainty - we act with courage when we are sure of what we know. Today, the courage we need must be rooted in the limits of what we can know and trust in something beyond human knowledge. In many times and places, that something has gone by the name 'God'. Religious fundamentalism offers a God who will protect us if we follow orders. Technological fundamentalism gives us the illusion that we are God and can arrange the world as we like it. A radical political theology leaves behind fear-based protection rackets and arrogance-driven control fantasies.

The God for our journey is neither above us nor inside us but around us, a reminder of the sacredness of the living world of which we are a part. That God shares the anxiety and anguish of life in a desecrated world. With such a God we can be at peace with our powerlessness and alive in hope. With such a God, we can live in peace."

Essay in its entirety:

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