cover image Plundered: The Tangled Roots of Racial and Environmental Justice

Plundered: The Tangled Roots of Racial and Environmental Justice

David W. Swanson. IVP, $18 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-51400-774-7

Systemic racism and environmental degradation “share the same tangled origins: greed and its ravenous manifestation, theft,” according to this enlightening treatise from pastor Swanson (Rediscipling the White Church). In the author’s view, a “theology of extraction”—the notion that “everything from microbes to metals,” in the words of theologian Willie Jennings, exists in terms of its “value for us”—underpins Western attitudes toward the earth and its inhabitants. The result is relentless fracking, mining, and drilling, along with “exploitation of people” via capitalistic systems that leverage the labor of poorer people, often minorities, for gain. Calling on Christians to reclaim “our unique vocation as caretakers,” Swanson recommends cultivating community spaces (such as neighborhood gardens) that bring people together; keeping the sabbath to “relearn... harmony with creation”; and founding Christian communities “committed to becom[ing] naturalized to their places.” While the author acknowledges such solutions might feel flimsy in the face of such far-ranging crises, his insight that small, committed communities are the starting point for systemic change is trenchant, and his theological and historical grounding (including discussions of the Great Migration and the theft of Native American–owned land) provides plenty of thought-provoking material to inspire further research. The result is a nuanced and ambitious take on the links between two pressing societal issues. (Oct.)