Fetishism Revisited: In the Animistic Lens of Eco-pneumatology

In: Journal of Reformed Theology
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  • 1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway

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In the context of ecological destruction and the emergence of numerous eco-spiritualities the challenge for Christian theology is to address the question: Where does the Spirit, who liberates nature, take place today? This is addressed in three sections: In a first section pneumatology is revisioned as ecological soteriology while the Spirit is portrayed as a giver and liberator of life. In a second section it is suggested that the doctrine of the Spirit may be reinterpreted in the context of the spatial turn of theology in terms of faith in the Spirit’s inhabitation. The third and concluding section offers an argument for an ecological pneumatology in synergy with animism, an approach which investigates the critical potentials of resisting and overcoming the fetishism of late modern capitalism.

  • 2

    Cf. Sturla J. Stålsett (ed.), Spirits of Globalization: The growth of Pentecostalism and experiential spiritualities in a global age (London: SCM, 2006).

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  • 8

    Cf. Sigurd Bergmann, “Der Geist unserer Zeit: Zur Verwandlung von Schöpfung, Wissenschaft und Religion im Klimawandel”, Salzburger Theologische Zeitschrift 12:1 (2008), 27-47.

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  • 10

    Denis Edwards, Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004), 110-112.

  • 11

    Barney Warf and Santa Arias (eds.), The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (London and New York: Routledge, 2008). Cf. Sigurd Bergmann, “Theology in its Spatial Turn: Space, Place and Built Environments Challenging and Changing the Images of God”, Religion Compass 1:3 (2007), 353-379.

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  • 13

    Cf. Edward W. Soja, Seeking Spatial Justice (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).

  • 16

    Cf. Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, “Rückkehr zur Erde”, Evangelische Theologie 53:5 (1993), 406-420.

  • 21

    Sallie McFague, Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001); Jürgen Moltmann Science and Wisdom (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).

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  • 24

    J. V. Taylor, The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission (London: SCM, 1972).

  • 26

    See more in Graham Harvey, “Animism—A Contemporary Perspective”, Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Vol. 1, 81-83; Graham Harvey, Animism: Respecting the Living World (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

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  • 28

    Nurit Bird-David, “ ‘Animism’ Revisited: Personhood, environment and relational epistemology”, Current Anthropology 40:1 (1999), 67-91; Alf Hornborg, “Submitting to Objects: Fetishism, Dissociation, and the Cultural Foundations of Capitalism”, in: Graham Harvey (ed.), Handbook of Animism (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).

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  • 30

    Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, On Religion (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1982), 22.

  • 33

    Bird-David, “‘Animism’ Revisited”, 76.

  • 34

    Alf Hornborg, “Comment on Bird-David”, Current Anthropology 40:1 (1999), 80-81.

  • 35

    Cf. Alf Hornborg, The Power of the Machine: Global inequalities of Economy, Technology, and Environment (Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2001); “Symbolic technologies: Machines and the Marxian notion of fetishism”, Anthropological Theory 1:4 (2001), 473-496; “Machine fetishism, value, and the image of unlimited good: Towards a thermodynamics of imperialism”, Man 27 (1992), 1-18.

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  • 37

    Eckhard Lessing, “Entry ‘Geist’ V”, Dogmatisch und ethisch’, in: TRE 12, (Berlin/New York, 1984), 218-237.

  • 41

    Quoted in Mark I. Wallace, Fragments of the Spirit: Nature, Violence, and the Renewal of Christianity (New York: Continuum, 1996), 10.

  • 43

    Wallace, Fragments of the Spirit, 10, 40.

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