This book considers the challenges and opportunities of the Anthropocene Age from the perspective of pastoral theology/care. The fundamental question and concern with regard to the Anthropocene Age for human beings and other species is, how are we to dwell together on this one earth. Care, LaMothe argues, is the central concept in answering this question. Effective care requires pastoral theologians to make use of multiple interpretive frameworks (e.g., theology, philosophy, human sciences, etc.) in the analytic pursuit of understanding and responding effectively to the realities of climate change. At the same time, it is also important for pastoral theologians to examine critically the theologies and philosophies that give rise to and impede pastoral interventions and, in the case of the Anthropocene Age, to be clear about how theologies and philosophies have contributed to ideologies that undergird both exploitation of the earth and other-than-human beings, while also contributing to climate change and obstructing climate action. These are necessary steps in developing pastoral responses aimed at caring for persons, communities, and other-than-human beings in need of a viable dwelling.
Ryan LaMothe is professor of pastoral care and counseling at Stain Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
Chapter One: The Anthropocene Age: Its Sources, Attributes, and Challenges
Chapter Two: The Problems of Scripture: Developing a Theology of Care for the Anthropocene Age
Chapter Three: A Pastoral Theology of Dwelling
Chapter Four: Radical Care in a Climate Emergency
Chapter Five: Facilitating Radical Communities of Inclusive Dwelling
Chapter Six: Contexts of Care in the Anthropocene Age
About the Author
The ecological crisis brings many challenges to pastoral care—but also profound opportunities for service. With a rare depth and width, Ryan LaMothe addresses both psychological, ethical, and theological concerns in this special book. He is one of the few theologians explicitly addressing eco-anxiety, climate grief, and several other existential challenges of our time. LaMothe calls for courage and care, despite the odds.
In this treatise on the climate crisis, Ryan LaMothe stands firmly on the interdisciplinary dialogues among theology, philosophy, psychology, and many other theories to unearth the layers of our rationality and emotions that sustained the anthropocentric paradigm that resulted in our current emergency. Exemplifying the self-differentiation needed for the drastic paradigm shift that Anthropocene calls for, LaMothe reposefully walks us through the layers under our anthropocentric way of life to construct a pastoral theology for the Anthropocene. Such calmness may be a typical Ryan LaMothe, who already repeatedly led us to the very frontiers of our field. Here, he did it again.
Ryan LaMothe has written an important book, focusing on the Anthropocene Age and its "defining existential event": climate change, or, more accurately, the current climate emergency. At a moment when the stakes are exceedingly high for all of life on earth, including human life, he puts forward a timely pastoral theology of radical and inclusive care that challenges our anthropocentric values, which are so embedded in Western culture and religion. The book provides an invaluable framework for responding to the complex and even daunting realities of climate change, on this amazingly beautiful, fragile, and, for all we know, unique planet.
The first of its kind, this book is a must-read for all those concerned about the climate crisis and who seek new ways for imagining life together upon the earth. What does the human vocation of care look like in the context of the Anthropocene? How can we re-imagine paradigms of care that serve life even as the Sixth Extinction looms? LaMothe skillfully grapples with these and other related questions through an integrated theological, philosophical, political, and practical approach. He proposes new frameworks for thought and practice, inviting communities of faith and concerned others everywhere into an urgent conversation for our time.
LaMothe confronts the Anthropocene Age by challenging hierarchical narratives of creation, oft-grounded in the Christian scriptures, that privilege human superiority and sovereignty. Through exceptional interdisciplinary research, LaMothe describes the climate emergency and leads the reader to question how we—human beings, other species, and the earth—can dwell together. LaMothe’s answer is a robust pastoral theology of dwelling that manifests in communities of radical care, practiced without condition, even when confronted by the hopelessness of existential threat. This text is a pastoral intervention for Christians experiencing eco-anxiety and eco-despair as well as an essential resource for all faith leaders.