Dave Grace, junior
There are ample resources for criticism of christianity as anti-ecological based on the development of the historical form of the Church, implicitly and explicitly espousing a message of Earth domination with the disembodied belief in an otherworldly future, in as much as it has been aligned with industrial forces. This brand of chrisitian ideology finds roots in the scientific-technological current embodied in western society. The end result of these disembodied beliefs aided with technological means is devastation to the land base upon which we rely. However, the real question is where this disembodied belief comes from: This is where a point of distinction must be made between the church and christianity. Radical Christians are seeking to reclaim the origins of christian faith, seeking to renew original intentions through embodied practice in living communities of faith. At the fore of these projects, in terms of ecology, is the discussion between anarcho-primitivism and christianity.
Andy Lewis has been deeply involved with drawing out the connections between anarcho-primitivism and christianity. He currently edits the journal In the Land of the Living, which catalogues the ongoing points of contact between these ideas, and has been helping with the organization of conferences on the topic. Additionally, he is living in Michigan working on native habitat renewal. For Andy, christianity is resistance not religion, as religion is “quite simply a conciliation for the breakdown or loss of a whole, healthy community” (Lewis). Religion, like the church, is tied up in institutional form, already domesticated, while faith “is rooted in wildness, the original undomesticated origins of life” (Lewis).
Anarcho-primitivism offers a critique of ecological crisis centered on the development of agriculture and civilization, characterized by domestication and symbolic culture. Genesis provides a similar commentary with the story of the Garden of Eden, suggesting an original preference of band society for humanity, and the subsequent fall from grace, banishment from the garden, suggesting the imposition and undesirability of agricultural society. Anarcho-primitivism suggests that it is such a society which allows for the myriad of forms of domination and control to exist. It is through this lens that judeo-christian narratives can be seen to counter the prevailing political climate, as the writings of the time are contextually based in the same problem of today, civilization.
Anarcho-primitivism and christianity offer a way forward that does not sacrifice our past and provides prospects of a future worth living, instead of advancing the current notion of increasing separation from the land, and ultimately ourselves, in hopes of technological salvation. There can be “reciprocity with origins” when we acknowledge our place in creation and respect the perennial source of our species by celebrating our role in the ecological cycles that frame our lives (Paul Shepard, Post-Historic Primitivism).
Andy Lewis will be on campus April 22-25 to discuss anarcho-primitivism and christianity with those interested. Funding provided by Lyceum and the Faulds Endowment.