Ethics for a Small Planet: New Horizons on Population, Consumption, and Ecology

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This book offers an original assessment of the crisis caused by the combined impact of overpopulation, overconsumption, and economic and political injustice. It summons religious scholarship into urgent dialogue with the other disciplines and with the world’s policymakers. The authors seek a new understanding of religion and its power since, for good or for ill, the world’s religions will be players in the crises relating to population and the threat of ecocide. Two-thirds of the world’s people affiliate with these religions and the other third cannot escape the influence of these symbol-filled cultural powerhouses.

Ethics for a Small Planet offers complementary studies by two major social ethicists on these issues. Daniel C. Maguire indicts our male-dominated religions for the problems they have caused for our ecology and reproductive ethics. He raises the controversial questions of whether the very concept of God is a problem and whether Christianity’s notions of afterlife and a divinized male have done more harm than good. Larry L. Rasmussen also recognizes that the problems of our planet are largely male-made and rich-dominated. He writes that Europeans packaged a form of earth-unfriendly capitalism and shipped it all over the world with missionary zeal. He ably scans the long history that led to the current manic rush to push the earth beyond its limits, and goes on to suggest moral norms and policy guidelines for sustainable communities and genuinely shared power.

Both authors argue that there are positive and renewable moral energies in the world’s religions and that unless religion, understood as a response to the sanctity of life, animates our ethical debates, the prospects for the world are grim. The sense of the sacred is presented here as the nucleus of the good and the only force that can bring about the lifestyle changes and power reallocations that are necessary to prevent terracide.
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About the author

Daniel C. Maguire is Professor of Social Ethics at Marquette University. He has written several books, including most recently, On Moral Grounds: The Art/Science of Ethics and The Moral Code of Judaism and Christianity.

Larry L. Rasmussen is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books, including most recently, Earth Community, Earth Ethics and Moral Fragments & Moral Community: A Proposal for Church in Society.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
151
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ISBN
9781438411682
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Grand Winner of the 2014 Nautilus Book Awards 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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