Two Books about Grassroots Alternatives for Building a New World

God’s Reign and the End of Empires
Antonio González
Convivium Press, 2012

Courage to Think Differently
Edited by George S. Johnson
Adventure Publications, 2013

Environmentalists in the United States have often avoided linking their ecological concerns to a critique of the competitive marketplace and the way that capitalism requires a constant growth in consumption in order to persuade the wealthy and the corporations to invest and create jobs for the working class. This error is increasingly being challenged by liberation theologians and spiritually sensitive social change activists, who will welcome Antonio González’s God’s Reign and the End of Empires, George S. Johnson’s collection of essays Courage To Think Differently, and Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda’s Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (reviewed in this issue on page 45).

González emphasizes that the environmental and ethical/spiritual crisis engulfing the world is the result neither of human perversity and stupidity, nor of conscious decisions of the 1 percent elite. Rather, he argues, the crisis is rooted in the essential characteristics of the capitalist system and has emerged from centuries of development of a capitalist empire that “is forced to expand by its very nature” and “possesses within itself no mechanism to palliate the environmental consequences of growth.” Yet González draws hope from a biblical vision of an alternative society whose highest allegiance is to a God whose message is an assault on the logic of empire. Though framed primarily as a Christian project, the building of a new world from the grassroots up can be an important element in the strategy of any spiritual progressive.

That project will be aided by the cultural, spiritual, ecological, and political wisdom of the thirty-five essayists George Johnson has included in this remarkable collection, including John B. Cobb, Walter Brueggemann, Frances Moore Lappé, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Vandana Shiva, David Korten, James Cone, Leonardo Boff, Brian McLaren, and Tikkun editor Rabbi Michael Lerner.


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