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turn is also increased in the process. The revelation may be marked by an exclamation of “this place is sacred”, or it may be just a moment of breathtaking wonder and gratitude, but such experiences are key to building the committed relationships we need. Most children are born with such capacity for wonder. It takes misdirected core convictions to kill it.
Think, then, what the implications are for a society plagued by “nature deficit disorder” if you believe hu- mans to be inextricably linked to the natural processes, systems, and communities of life as responsible participants. Instead of the intersubjectivity we should be seeking, we get the objectification that is inevitably
myopic, and leads to exploitation and manipulation rather than solidarity.
One source of hope for deep ecologists, in the struggle to effect radical reform, is similar to the hope held by those of various faiths: that it is still possible to experi- ence the wonder and grace of a world that, despite all the hurt, is still marvelous and full of possibility. We cannot always orchestrate epiphanies to achieve the revelation that is needed, but we can try – and the good news is that, after all, it is not up to us to accomplish it fully; grace comes to us freely – it just needs our open- ness and ability to recognize it. What we can offer to the world is our service as responsible participants.
The church has a vital role to play still. What better place than the one that is trained to reflect on questions of ultimate significance? What better perspective than one
that affirms the underlying structure of the universe as being radically inclusive love, and that calls us to support the poor and disenfranchised, the voiceless, and the injured? We must know the world through the lens of love – only then can we attain the subject-to-subject understanding that deepens itself. We must all love the places where we live – not only do the distant large wilderness areas depend on it, but so do we all, no matter where we are or of what species.
David Siegenthaler is an eco-justice minister in San Francisco Presbytery. He is a program officer for several state and local assistance programs for the western region of the National Park Service. His previous work included rangering, public interest work, community organizing, natural resource man- agement, and interpretive planning and design. His educational background includes a B.A. in sociology, M.S. in environmental resource administration/interpretation, M.Div., and a Ph.D. in systematic and philosophical theology.
1. For information on Earthwalks, as well as their educational philosophy, and the deep ecology perspective they represent, see Steve Van Matre, Earth Education... A New Beginning (1990), Interpretive Design and The Dance of Experience (2008), published by The Institute for Earth Education, Greenville, West Virginia.
2. Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
3. Olive R.W. Pergams and Patricia A. Zaradic, “Is Love of Nature in the U.S. Becoming Love of Electronic Media? 16- year Downtrend in National Park Visits Explained by Watching Movies, Playing Video Games, Internet Use, and Oil Prices.” Journal of Environmental Management 80 (2006): 387-393. See also their website at http://; accssed 9/2/2012.
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