Peace with Nature and the Liberation of Man

Earth Day Flag ,created by John McConnell
Earth Day Flag, created by John McConnell
In the final chapter of The Crucified God (“Ways towards the Political Liberation of Man”), Jürgen Moltmann explores liberation from what he calls “vicious circles of death” in five interrelated dimensions: 1) the vicious circle of poverty, 2) the vicious circle of force, 3) the vicious circle of racial and political alienation, 4) the vicious circle of the industrial pollution of nature, and 5) the vicious circle of senselessness and godforsakenness. 

Concern for the rights of the humiliated peoples in our world is not made complete without concern for the rights of the earth We must stop seeing nature as something which we should either control (which we tend to do economically) or be liberated from (which we tend to do in our largely escapist spirituality). Instead, we must see ourselves as part of creation and enter into a peaceful cooperation with it. Moltmann describes the path toward our liberation together with nature this way:

In the relationship of society to nature, liberation from the vicious circle of the industrial pollution of nature means peace with nature. No liberation of men from economic distress, political oppression and human alienation will succeed which does not free nature from inhuman exploitation and which does not satisfy nature. As far as we can see today, only a radical change of the relationship of man to nature will get us out of the ecological crisis. The models of self-liberation from nature and domination of it by exploitation lead to the ecological death of nature and humanity. They must therefore be replaced by new models of co-operation with nature. The relationship of working man to nature is not a master-servant relationship but a relationship of intercomminication which pays respect to the circumstances. Nature is not an object of man’s environment, and in this has its own rights and equilibria. Therefore men must exchange their apathetic and often hostile domination over nature for a sympathetic relationship of partnership with the natural world. The hominization of nature in the sphere of human control only leads to the humanization of man when the latter are also ‘naturalized’. Therefore the long phase of the liberation of man from nature in his ‘struggle for existence’ must be replaced by a phase of the liberation of nature from inhumanity for the sake of ‘peace in existence’. To the degree that the transition from an orientation on economic and ecological values and from an increase in the quantity of life to an appreciation of the quality of life, and thus from the possession of nature to the joy of existing in it can overcome the ecological crisis, peace with nature is the symbol of the liberation of man from this vicious circle.
(The Crucified God, 334)

 

Jürgen Moltmann on Theology’s Undiscovered Territories

Image source: Wikipedia

In the process of researching for his doctoral dissertation (later developed into his new book, which I highly recommend), Patrick Oden conducted three interviews with Jürgen Moltmann (One, Two, Three). At the beginning of the third interview he broke from his topic and asked Moltmann a great question about the future of theology: I’m curious what your thoughts are on the direction of theology in the future. What are the open fields and undiscovered territories that theology has to pursue still? What should we look in to that you feel theology has not explored?

Below is Moltmann’s response! Continue reading Jürgen Moltmann on Theology’s Undiscovered Territories