Restoring nature to culture...

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To reform a society that is fast overwhelming the natural environment, Austin proposes constitutional rights for species and living systems, land reform to assure access to the earth, revitalized agriculture to support more people on the land while conserving ecosystems, and a Christian communion that embraces all creatures loved by our Lord.

"The greatest value of this book is its capacity to give hope. After years of devastating news for the farming and environmental community, Austin's commitment to demonstrate the power of biblical justice gives those in the thick of the fight the energy to answer the bell." - Sojourners

Reclaiming America: Restoring Nature to Culture. Richard Cartwright Austin. Creekside Press. ISBN 0-9625831-0-3. 243 pages, softbound.

 

The following chapter from Reclaiming America has since been published in Vitek & Jackson, Home Territory: Essays on Community and the Land. 1990 Richard Cartwright Austin

The following story is not yet true:

It is now fifteen years since 1995, when the Rev. Anne Stem, pastor of two small Lutheran churches in rural Redemption County, fashioned the plan during winter evening conversations with Wally Boggs, who taught agronomy at Central College, and Father John McKay, who chaired the Economics Department at Mercy College, to buy the whole county, or as much as was for sale, and redistribute lands, homes, and workplaces to people willing to covenant together for a just society that respected the earth. They would show to America an alternative to the harsh exploitation and rapid depopulation of landscapes that prevailed elsewhere. They believed the plan could double the county's population in twenty-five years and create a vital, self-sufficient community with a diverse culture that would inspire people elsewhere to work for similar changes.

Reverend Stem could see that the Lutheran community had been in steady decline for forty years. Her two congregations were both aging, and although a lot of land was now on the market, only a few young men and women considered buying a farm or taking up another trade in the community. Dr. Boggs saw his agronomy classes dwindle year by year while Central College, a Presbyterian liberal arts school that had once made an important contribution to regional culture, turned to students from the East who had been refused by colleges of their first choice. Father John was disappointed that Mercy College, principally a technical school, had so little impact upon the community other than providing the training that helped young men and women to move away. The Catholic population had dwindled to less than half of what it had been when he was ordained in this diocese; indeed, the future of the college was now under official review.

Baptized into Wilderness | Hope for the Land | Beauty of the Lord
Reclaiming America

 

From the book...

"The innovative skills that distinguish human culture and that have covered the earth with many constructive artifacts of human civilization are the very skills which can assure good and satisfying lives for most people if we resolve to fashion life-sustaining relationships with the other creatures and natural forces that share this planet with us. Life in communion with God, in harmony with nature, and in fellowship with one another is still possible upon the earth."

"Agriculture disturbs more land than any other human enterprise. The Bible, however, is not pessimistic about agriculture. Within God's covenant agriculture became a moral relationship between humanity and nature which might add to the beauty of the earth."

"During the first century of our republic, the frontier served adequately to substitute for periodic redistribution of land, which justice would otherwise require. Now after a century without a frontier, most Americans are separated from their land while the landscape itself is dying. Much of our countryside is bereft of human life as well as of the vital ecosystems of plants and animals. We need land reform to reopen the frontier not upon some distant territory but within the familiar and beloved lands of our common heritage."

"I propose a constitutional amendment to confer civil rights upon all the species, systems of life, and distinctive natural features that - along with humanity - comprise America. Now is the time to expand our republic to enfold our lands and waters - the life upon, above, and within them - and the natural forces that sustain life, within the institutions of society. It is time to confer upon each of these the rights that are appropriate to their sustenance."

"When Christians resist the extinction of species, the oppression of peoples, the disruption of both cultures and ecosystems, and all that pollutes human and natural life, we will suffer with the afflicted and have occasion to lament the many unnecessary deaths around us. In this we share the sufferings of Christ for the world. Yet the gospel gives hope to the earth and can inspire our striving for both social justice and natural abundance. Although the spread of pollution may create anxiety and sow confusion within the human community, Christian hope points toward a wholesome future for life on earth."

 


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