Monday, 28 September 2009

Gaia and Climate Change

Book Review:

Gaia and Climate Change: a Theology of Gift Events, by Anne Primavesi

Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group 2009, 154 pp., £16.99, p/b.

A remarkable theological response to the crisis of climate change, following on from her earlier books on Gaia and theology. Anne's thesis is that Gaia theory has revolutionised our understanding of the relationship between humans and the environment and that we need a radical change of perception away from violent imperialist images of God and corresponding capitalist exploitation of nature. Specifically, she argues that 'we must confront the role that Christian violence-of-God traditions have played in causing the problems raised by climate change and justifying our part in them. Awareness of, and attention to, this state of affairs is a prerequisite for remedying it.'

Her new perspective opens up ' a non-violent, non-consumerist, generous, compassionate and inclusive theological vision that can be seen as emergent in the life of Jesus.' She analyses three key historic events suggested by Hannah Arendt: the discovery of America, the Reformation and the invention of the telescope. Theologically, this involves seeing the life and teachings of Jesus as a gift, and emphasising not so much what he did for us ('dying for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures'), but rather what he said in terms of forgiveness and loving our enemies. This power of forgiveness must be mobilised by us individually and collectively as we reach towards a new understanding of our embeddedness within natural processes and evolve a new form of economic system beyond short-term monetary profit driving consumption and waste. Essential reading for those seeking a new and sustainable theology of nature.