Responding to a Weeping Planet: Practical Theology as a Discipline Called by Crisis
By Mary Elizabeth Moore
Religions 13, no. 3
Abstract: Practical theology is by nature a discipline of crisis, standing on the edge of reality and potential, what is and what can be. Crises can be gentle turning points, opportunities for radical transformation, or catastrophic moments in time. In the geological age of the Anthropocene, people face devastating planetary effects of human agency, which have created and escalated a climate crisis beyond the boundaries of imagination. Practical theology belongs at the epicenter of ecological crises, which have already produced harsh results, ecological despair, and a time-dated urgency for daring decisions and actions. Change is knocking at global doors—the necessity, foreboding, and hope for change. This article probes practical theology’s role in change, giving primary attention to changes in practical wisdom (phronesis) and life practices. Methodologically, the article draws from ecological scholars and activists, philosophers and theologians, indigenous communities, and the earth itself, presenting descriptions and analyses of their shared wisdom across time, culture, and areas of expertise. From these sources, the study identifies challenges, practices, and alternate worldviews that can potentially reshape practical wisdom and climate action. In conclusion, this paper proposes life practices for climate justice: practices of attending, searching, imagining, and communal living and acting.