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Mark I. Wallace is Associate Professor and Co-Chair in the Department of Religion and member of the Environmental Studies Committee at Swarthmore College. He is the author of Fragments of the Spirit: Nature, Violence, and the Renewal of Creation and The Second Naiveté: Barth, Ricoeur, and the New Yale Theology. He is editor of Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination, and co-editor of Curing Violence: Religion and the Thought of Rene Girard.

 

Abstract of paper given at Christianity and Ecology conference:
Recovering the Spirit in an Age of Radical Ecology

The paper proposes an earth-centered model of the Spirit vis-a-vis the current environmental crisis. The orienting thesis is that the Spirit is the power of life-giving breath (ruah) within the cosmos who continually works to transform and renew all forms of life-both human and nonhuman. The Nicene Creed in 325 C.E. named the Spirit as "the Lord, the Giver of Life." The purpose of the paper will be to contemporize this ancient appellation by reenvisioning the Holy Spirit as God's vivifying presence within the society of all living beings. This life-centered model of the Spirit-the green face of God-expands the understanding of the Spirit in terms of its intratrinitarian role (traditionally expressed as the bond of unity between the Father and the Son) to include the Spirit's biotic role as the power of healing and renewal within all creation. The Spirit is best understood not as a metaphysical entity but as a healing life-force who engenders human flourishing as well as the welfare of the planet. This approach is called "ecological pneumatology" in order to distinguish it from metaphysically-based notions of the Spirit characteristic of normative Western philosophical questions of being and squarely within a nature-based desire for the integrity and health of all life-forms.

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