- Series: Melville Manifestos
- Paperback: 150 pages
- Publisher: Melville House (September 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0976658348
- ISBN-13: 978-0976658344
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Divine Destruction: Dominion Theology and American Environmental Policy (Melville Manifestos) Paperback – September 1, 2005
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About the Author
Stephenie Hendricks is an executive news producer for Pacifica Radio. She is also a producer for Free Speech TV and World Link Television. She has been a broadcast journalist for 35 years.
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Top Customer Reviews
But even as most Americans embraced this new way of thinking about Nature, there have always been a much smaller group of Americans who were anxious to exploit it for economic gain. But faced with the overwhelming resistance to the economic exploitation of wilderness areas, logging and mineral and recreational interests have had to resort to new and more subtle ways of manipulating public interests. One way has been to make "environmentalist" a dirty word, despite the fact that perhaps 75% of the American populace strongly support environmental causes. "Wise Use" is another such instance. Little of what I have mentioned here appears in Hendricks book. My complaint with the book is that it is completely fails to provide a historical context for the problems it addresses. I think this severely limits the usefulness of the book.
The book is much better at showing how the "Wise Use" advocates (which are nearly 100% business interests with little popular backing) have linked with Right Wing Christian Dominionist movements. On the actual discussion of the Dominionist or Christian Recontructionist movements, however, the book is once again somewhat lacking in depth. The various right wing religious movements were simply not discussed with the kind of precision and accuracy that they could have been. While the variations among Dominionists and Reconstructionists are analyzed with sharp distinctions by writers like Sara Diamond, Frederick Clarkson, Kevin Phillips, and Michelle Goldberg, Hendricks muddles some of the differences between them. For instance, especially on environmental issues whether one is premillenialist or postmillennialist has enormous consequences. But she makes very little distinction between the two.
Nonetheless, despite the overall lack of background and lack of specificity in writing about Christian right wing movements, this is a very important little book. It calls attention to the unnatural link between business groups that want to have free rein to use natural areas for whatever purposes they would like and religious groups who believe that consuming all of nature's resources will spark the return of Jesus. The strongest part of the book by far is in discussing the link between these groups and politicians in Washington with very strong links with either the business "Wise Use" factions or the right-wing religionists. This part of the book is extremely disturbing and really brings home the fact that too many of our political leaders really are in thrall to special interests that do not benefit the nation as a whole. The irony is that so many of these people talk of environmentalists as if they represented "special interests," whereas environmentalists unquestionably represent the general interests.
So I recommend this book, but with hesitation. Is this a good book if you have done no prior reading in environmental history or the Christian Recontructionist movement? I'm simply not sure. But if someone has read, say, Roderick Nash's WILDERNESS AND THE AMERICAN MIND and Michelle Goldberg's KINGDOM COMING: THE RISE OF CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM or Kevin Phillip's AMERICAN THEOCRACY, it is likely to be useful in fleshing out the larger story. I view it largely as a niche book, most likely helpful only to those who are already familiar with most of the broader topics discussed.
I will say that I was grateful for the section dealing with Pope John Paul II's thinking about George W. Bush. I was, of course, aware that John Paul II did not care for Bush and was passionately opposed to many of his policies. He and Bush clashed frequently on a host of issues from capital punishment to social justice to almost everything touching foreign policy. But in reading that John Paul II regretted that his failing health left him incapable of fighting effectively Bush's influence and in fact thought that Bush might be the Anti-Christ or at least preached an anti-Gospel, I was struck by the irony that while Bush demonized his enemies the world's most famous Christian religious leader demonized Bush. This is especially delicious given the fact that John Paul II seems to be on the fast track towards being canonized.
Ms. Hendricks explains that Reconstructionists care little for preventing environmental destruction; rather, they seek to gain dominion over government in the belief that Biblical prophecy must be fulfilled in order to herald the end of time and the return of Jesus. The author profiles many of the prominent Republicans who belong to and/or support such extremist Christian organizations including some of the most powerful members of congress, the Supreme Court and of course, President George W. Bush. In that light, we learn that many of the anti-environmental policy decisions made by the current administration might be explained in part by the irrational religious ideologies adhered to by its leaders.
However, Ms. Hendricks' investigative reporting reveals that Christianity is also used to mask an agenda of greed. Recalling that the cry of Manifest Destiny cloaked the imperial ambitions of 1840s America with the sanctity of a religious calling, the author explains that timber, mining, off-road vehicle manufacturing, theme park tourism and other corporate interests are benefiting immensely from the roll back of environmental protections called for by self-identified Christian politicians. Nevertheless, she is hopeful that progressive Christians such as Fred Kreuger and Peter Ilyn might succeed in helping the faithful understand that stewardship of the planet is a core Christian value and that the skewing of the Bible to support short-sighted and unsustainable policies is inherently immoral.
I recommend this book to everyone but assign it only 4 stars due to its brevity.