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Enlisting religion in environmental discussions has proved to be a two-edged sword. Some environmentalists point to the Bible as the source of an unholy exploitation of nature. Others employ biblical principles to reform - or even destroy - current science, technology, economics, and social structures that have been beneficial. In this timely volume Robert Royal examines how religious values are sometimes misused in current environmental debates and explores how they may be more faithfully used both to restrain excesses in the environmental movement and to inspire sound ecological practices.
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That Royal takes Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as his Augustine interpreter of choice locates him politically if not theologically. He writes as an apologist for conservative reaction to environmentalism. He seeks first to separate the motivations of a range of activists from religious insight, then to discredit the cosmological underpinnings of environmentalism, and, finally, to dismiss a number of influential environmentalists, from Thomas Berry and Arne Naess to Rosemary Radford Ruether and Carol Christ to Al Gore and Leonardo Boff. In the process, Royal introduces quite a variety of contemporary thinkers by name, even as he fails to engage them. He does provide some insight into a "religious" dimension of much contemporary environmental discussion; saliently, that it is often a clash of dogmas, marked more by slogans and incomprehension than by dialogue. Those looking for dialogue won't find it here, though, and those looking for a conservative voice of contemporary environmental polemics won't be disappointed. Steven Schroeder
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