Re: [asa] Wilson's "The Creation"

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Sep 05 2006 - 18:12:34 EDT

On 9/5/06, George Murphy <> wrote:
> I've only read Wilson's article briefly & there might be problems I
> don't
> see but I think that the appeal he makes is reasonable. (Of course
> I have
> serious problems with Wilson's own worldview but that's another
> matter.) As
> he notes, a number of Christian leaders, church bodies & para-church
> groups
> have already taken positions in favor of environmental protection
> or, in
> more theological language, stewardship of creation. He could have
> mentioned
> other churches as well - e.g., ELCA & PCUSA.
> But as Wilson notes, the opposition to sound environmental policy from
> some
> on the religious right continues to be a problem - & that's
> especially the
> case since some people with those views are in positions to
> influence or
> make policy in the current administration. I dealt briefly with these
> matters in an article written for the online _Journal of Lutheran
> Ethics_
> for the 10th anniversary of the ELCA's social statment "Caring for
> Creation:
> Vision, Hope and Justice." It can be found at
> .
> Shalom
> George

This brings to mind an essay by Walter Russell Mead in this month's
Affairs* that was recommended as follows by conservative political
Michael Barone:

> He makes an important distinction by dividing religious American
> Protestants into three groups: liberals, fundamentalists, and
> evangelicals.
> Then he focuses on the evangelicals, who are growing in numbers and
> in their
> interest in foreign policy. Walter is the son of an Episcopalian
> minister
> who was assigned to South Carolina during the days of desegregation
> and
> later worked at the National Cathedral in Washington; his parents
> now live
> across the street from me. Walter is an appreciator and a
> describer, not an
> advocate and a decrier. His splendid book *Special
> Providence*<
> Foreign-Policy-How-It-Changed-World/dp/0415935369/sr=8-1/
> qid=1157047611/ref=sr_1_1/002-0335770-0224801?ie=UTF8>has brilliant
> sections on the role of religion in American foreign policy
> over the years. Read the whole thing: the article and then the
> whole book.

The title of the essay is *God's Country?* In it, Mead explores the
of liberals, fundamentalists, and evangelicals on foreign policy. He
the ascendancy of the evangelicals along with a magisterial and more
importantly impeccably fair history of the relationship between the
groups of Protestants. I will quote the conclusion that contradicts
Janice's predictions with respect to whether evangelicals would accept
Wilson's offer. That being said read the whole essay. It is no
mistake that
Barone recommends this.

> U.S. evangelicals generally seek to hold on to their strong personal
> faith and Protestant Christian identity while engaging with people
> across
> confessional lines. Evangelicals have worked with Catholics against
> abortion
> and with both religious and secular Jews to support Israel; they
> could now
> reach out to Muslims as well. After all, missionary hospitals and
> schools
> were the primary contact that most Middle Easterners had with the
> United
> States up until the end of World War II; evangelicals managed more
> than a
> century of close and generally cooperative relations with Muslims
> throughout
> the Arab world. Muslims and evangelicals are both concerned about
> global
> poverty and Africa. Both groups oppose the domination of public and
> international discourse by secular ideas. Both believe that religious
> figures and values should be treated with respect in the media;
> neither like
> the glorification of casual sex in popular entertainment. Both
> Islam and
> evangelicalism are democratic religions without a priesthood or
> hierarchy.
> Muslims and evangelicals will never agree about everything, and
> secular
> people may not like some of the agreements they reach. But fostering
> Muslim-evangelical dialogue may be one of the best ways to
> forestall the
> threat of civilizational warfare.
> Nervous observers, moreover, should remember that evangelical theology
> does not automatically produce Jacksonian or populist foreign
> policy. A
> process of discussion and mutual accommodation can in many cases
> narrow the
> gap between evangelicals and others on a wide range of issues.
> Worrying that
> evangelical politics will help lock the United States into
> inflexible and
> extreme positions is a waste of time; working with thoughtful
> evangelical
> leaders to develop a theologically grounded approach to Palestinian
> rights,
> for example, will broaden the base for thoughtful -- though never
> anti-Israel -- U.S. policies.
> Similarly, engaging evangelicals in broader foreign policy
> discussions can
> lead to surprising and (for some) heartening developments. A group of
> leading conservative evangelicals recently signed a statement on
> climate
> change that stated that the problem is real, that human activity is an
> important contributing cause, that the costs of inaction will be
> high and
> disproportionately affect the poor, and that Christians have a
> moral duty to
> help deal with it. Meanwhile, evangelicals who began by opposing
> Sudanese
> violence and slave raids against Christians in southern Sudan have
> gone on
> to broaden the coalition working to protect Muslims in Darfur.
> Evangelicals are likely to focus more on U.S. exceptionalism than
> liberals
> would like, and they are likely to care more about the morality of
> U.S.
> foreign policy than most realists prefer. But evangelical power is
> here to
> stay for the foreseeable future, and those concerned about U.S.
> foreign
> policy would do well to reach out. As more evangelical leaders acquire
> firsthand experience in foreign policy, they are likely to provide
> something
> now sadly lacking in the world of U.S. foreign policy: a trusted
> group of
> experts, well versed in the nuances and dilemmas of the international
> situation, who are able to persuade large numbers of Americans to
> support
> the complex and counterintuitive policies that are sometimes
> necessary in
> this wicked and frustrating -- or, dare one say it, fallen -- world.

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Received on Sat Sep 9 13:42:58 2006

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