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13.7.04

Wilderness And Charity

From time to time I've written about my uneasiness with the focus on wilderness as a means to environmental protection. Now, I'm personally a fan of wild areas. But I'm uncomfortable with the idea that the essence of saving nature is to exclude humans from it. Part of it is the fact that the existence of real wilderness is largely a myth. A big part of it is also the separation it creates between untouched natural landscapes and degraded human landscapes. It distracts us from the need to practice environmentally sustainable living everywhere, in downtown Worcester just as much as in the Adirondacks. I was reminded of this by a recent post by Hugo Schwyzer. In discussing the need to have a Christian ethic of economic activity, he says:

Indeed, I find that the more I give to church and charity, the more I begin to feel that what remains is mine to spend entirely as I will.


The alternative -- which Schwyzer understandably finds difficult to put into practice -- is to infuse all his spending decisions with a consideration of ethics. It seems that the postmodernists are onto something in pointing out the pernicious effects of creating binary categories.

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