Homogenizing Violence, Isa 40:4 (and Luke 3:5) and MTR (Mountaintop Removal Mining)

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
Anne Elvey Monash University and University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia

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With the metaphor of leveling hills and filling valleys, Isa 40:4 presents an image of homogenizing violence toward Earth. This biblical text has been adopted by proponents of Mountaintop Removal Mining (hereafter, MTR). Justification of MTR by explicit reference to Isa 40:4 has occurred principally in response to Christian protests against MTR. The same text has been used by those resisting MTR. This article begins with ecophilosopher Val Plumwood’s critique of homogenization and draws on Paul Ricoeur’s reading of Aristotle on metaphor, to ask if, other than as a crass use as a proof-text for MTR, the application of Isa 40:4 to this destructive practice points to a deeper problem with homogenizing metaphors whose content is other-than-human. While the Isaian metaphor is problematic, it is grounded in the underlying liveliness of its subject. Attention to the liveliness of these biblical mountains and valleys allows that the text, and its metaphors, can also empower resistance to MTR. The liveliness underlying the mountains and hills of the Isaian metaphor can prompt a renewed focus on, and solidarity with, the Appalachian mountains and their communities.

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