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Sacred MountainsA Christian Ethical Approach to Mountaintop Removal$
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Andrew R. H. Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813165998

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813165998.001.0001

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Relation, Revelation, and Revolution

Relation, Revelation, and Revolution

A Theocentric Approach to Mountaintop Removal

(p.57) 3 Relation, Revelation, and Revolution
Sacred Mountains

Andrew R. H. Thompson

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines the theocentric approach developed in the work of H. Richard Niebuhr and that of two Niebuhrians, James Gustafson and Emilie Townes. The author’s theocentric approach is characterized less by concrete prescriptions for specific situations than by an attitude of humility, careful discernment, and critical self-assessment. Nonetheless, this attitude carries real implications for how we interpret and respond to ethical issues. The work of Gustafson and Townes is particularly useful in exploring these implications. The former helps elucidate how agents might discern the actions and purposes of God in creation; the latter provides an example of the examination and transformation of cultural discourses based on such discernment. The author’s theocentric approach to MTR incorporates aspects of both; it calls for a critical examination of the images and narratives used to understand MTR, with particular attention to how the church both challenges and perpetuates images and narratives that have proved to be destructive and alienating. The goal of this critical self-examination is to recenter the church’s imaginations on the action of God the universal valuer, whose purposes relativize all finite interests.

Keywords:   H. Richard Niebuhr, theocentrism, responsibility ethic, imagination, hegemony, James Gustafson, Emilie Townes

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