To Till It and Keep It: Ecological Theologies Rooted in Praxis

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John Grim
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This essay examines the ecotheologies of ecologically committed Christian communities and projects as an ethnographic approach to the study of Christianity and ecology. The ecologically-oriented beliefs underlying praxis at these communities and projects are presented thematically in terms of each site. Using the Retrieval-Reevaluation-Reconstruction methodology of religion and ecology, beliefs and practices are investigated and compared with aspects of Christian tradition, locating influence and innovation with respect to community structure, eco-spirituality, and ecological discipleship. This essay identifies nonviolence towards the nonhuman, organic cultivation, sacred bioregionalism, and witness to the land as characteristics of ecological discipleship practice. Permeating ecological aspects of faith at these sites is a rejection of the nature/culture dichotomy, and a turn towards recognizing the human as embedded within the context of the Earth. This represents a major new ecological dimension to Christianity that can expand faith towards eco-justice.