Somewhere I read in a magazine that the principles of Environmental discourses and its value system is at odds with how the church (the Swedish church to be precise) views human life and its value. My comment to this is of course: Which one of the value systems in environmental discourse? As well as there is more than one way of thinking regarding christianity (social values, ideas regarding life, afterlife, interpretation of the Bible etc), there are also several ways of positioning yourself regarding the view on the environment and humanity's position within it.
My position is simply this: The debate over the importance of environmental issues is a brilliant and pressing way to revisit some power structures that has been in place for a number of years now, which no one seems to be able to think outside.
This clearly is the position of Philip Goodchild in his Theology of Money, which clearly posits economy and ecology at odds with each other. The economy - and money in general - has been an attempt to free ourselves of the bondage of being interdependent, and moving towards being independent. Today, the main reason why ecology is allowed to climb up to the top of national and international agendas is due to the paradigm called Ecological Modernization. Without diving deeply into this concept, it takes on the opposite standpoint to that of Goodchild; that there is no conflict between economic and ecological interests, and that with the right incentives the market can play an important role in turning around this entire mess around.
Disregarding that consumerism and the industrial pollution-revolution caused the entire mess to start with, the same forces now say they are not only part of the sollution, but the most important part of the best sollution. If a warning bell hasn't gone off in your mind yet, maybe this is the apropriate place.
What Ecological Modernization essentially attempts is to claim that economic and material growth can continue endlessly, and that everyone will somehow benefit from this. What it does not do is to take an opportunity to seriously revise the spot we're in. Put differently: proponents of Ecological Modernization sees no problem in walking further down the beaten track of happiness-as-individual-consumption. There is plenty of litterature that address this problematic assumption from a vast array of angles: theological, sensus-based and whatnot.
So let's just get our stupid-bracelets out here for a second and ask: What Would Jesus Do? We don't know a lot about what Jesus would do in the 21st century, but I'm pretty sure that the concept of a rich man having a harder time getting into heaven than a camel getting through the eye of a needle provides a pointer that it is time to re-think our route presumed to lead to happiness.
More thoughts to come. Watch this space.
Sharachchandra M. Lélé "Sustainable Development: A Critical Review", and
Alan Durning "How Much Is Enough?" in:
Conka, Ken & Geoffrey D. Dabelko (ed:s). Green Planet Blues. Westview Press.