Environmental Justice and the Religious Imagination

By Tyler Mark Nelson
Yale Reflections
Fall 2022

We humans have forgotten how to be creatures who inhabit and share the Earth. Like the protagonists in the Edenic narrative, we greedily pursue power over the community of creation. Now every life on Earth faces the greatest threat in human history. In this time, we need a new moral vision compelling enough to achieve terminal escape velocity past the gravitational forces of enduring white colonialist imaginaries.

I believe that such a vision is already being carried out by many who prophetically challenge the powers, principalities, and structural evils which desecrate peoples and places. These scholars and ministers and youths and scientists and activists (and more) recognize the intertwining of the present climate emergency with abusive power structures. In their roles as prophetic earthkeepers, they seek “to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to [that] of the dominant culture around us.” This alternative imaginary criticizes the oppressive imaginaries of today while energizing persons and communities towards a future of social, economic, and ecological liberation.

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