Can “Sustainability” Be Sustained?

by Max L. Stackhouse

At the time this article was written, Max L. Stackhouse taught at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Massachusetts. He subsequently taught at Princeton Theological Seminary.

This article first appeared in the Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XV, No. 2, New Series (1994), pp. 143 – 155. Used by permission of the author.


Stackhouse reviews John Cobb, Sustainability: Economics, Ecology, and Justice, and challenges Cobb’s activist pro-ecological stance as overly naturalistic, pessimistic, nostalgic and anti-development. He proposes instead that the central demand of our time is to use the technology that is now on the horizon to transform nature in ways that enhance the global structures of a "graceful, cosmopolitan civilization able to serve the whole of humanity."

A Review Essay of John B. Cobb, Jr., Sustainability: Economics, Ecology and Justice (Maryknowl: Orbis Books, 1992).

There is little doubt about it: ecological/environmental awareness is one the three great entrees into cross-cultural thinking today. Along with human rights and the emergence of a pervasive matrix of global economic interdependence, the issue of the future of the biophysical planet in relationship to the future of civilization poses a basic theological-ethical question as to whether there are common problems that demand concerted human attention beyond the particularities of culture, class, ethnicity, nationality, and gender.

Contemporary humanity faces, in such issues, the question of whether we, as a species, have enough access to universalistic principles not only to confront and constrain recalcitrant abusers of the cosmos and the neighbor, but to guide and shape the whole of what appears to be an emerging, single cosmopolitan civilization—although it is likely to be the most diverse and culturally pluralistic civilization that ever existed. All who hold that the whole of reality is rooted in, guided by, and accountable to a God who alone is truly universal and fully just will be interested in how theological ethics treats these issues.

To be sure, these are not the only issues that press us toward global thinking. Other pervasive motifs intrude into our local preoccupations in spite of the recent fascination with contextual differences and the often dogmatic suspicion that we are all so trapped in our own social or cultural, linguistic or sexual identities that we cannot understand each other, let alone make any sort of "objective" claims about morality or the human condition.

For example, issues of "international law" have been under debate since at least the Council of Constance in 1415 and have taken on more and more importance with the emergence of the World Court, the United Nations, and enormous webs of contract, patent, criminal, and multilateral trade agreements; the "new world order," a phrase coined by Cicero as I recall, has been revived episodically in political debates since the fall of feudalism

and has received fresh attention in the last decade as we move beyond a bipolar world of superpowers; and while no one doubts the culturally embedded origins of modern science, questions as to whether science is too "Western" to be universal are only (debated by those who ignore how rapidly and eagerly computer technology is adopted and adapted into every culture given access to it. Indeed, even the worldwide demand for movies, tapes, and videos suggests at least the high permeability and at most the pervasive character of some levels of human sensibilities in what some want to see as radically (distinct and encapsulated. [1] These areas too raise the question of whether there are, and whether modern humanity can reliably know whether there are, general norms and principles that do, or should, or could guide the common life.

However, for many, the commonalities exemplified in law, politics, science, technology, and culture seem artificial and subject to distortion by greed and imperial impulse. Ecology, on the other hand, seems to have a prima facie priority, even a kind of moral purity about it, for it is to "nature" that many appeal if they want to show that some aspect of life is "really real" or truly normative. Indeed, if it turns out that if this or that philosophy (or theology) evokes, promotes, or reinforces a human tendency to violate what is natural, many suspect that the matter is settled. To call something "natural" is, for many today, to enter the court of final appeal. It is striking that "earth day" is the chief contribution of our generation to the liturgical calendar.

Among contemporary theologians, John B. Cobb, Jr., Professor Emeritus at the School of Theology at Claremont and the founding director of the Center for Process Studies, has contemplated the place of nature in theology as much as any other major thinker. As is widely recognized, he is a philosophical theologian willing to ask basic metaphysical and moral questions and to engage in a close dialogue with the natural and social sciences just as many seem to be retreating from these conversations.

He established himself with a flurry of publications in the 1960s celebrating process theology—Varieties of Protestantism (1960), Living Options in Protestant Theology (1962), A Christian Natural Theology (1965), The Structure oJ Christian Existence (1967), and God and the World (1969), all from Westmminster Press.

But near the end of the 1960s Cobb underwent a conversion. [3] It is not that he departed from process thought, but that he seemed to confront a crisis in the world that challenged at least his previous understanding of it, a crisis that he could not easily digest without altering his trajectory of theory. Process thought, as he has helped me to understand it, is centered in the effort to think through all the basic metaphysical, moral, epistemological, and theological issues from the standpoint of evolutionary developmentalism. With Aristotle’s opposition to Plato standing in the distant background, and deeply influenced by Hegel and Darwin as well as by the bustling energy of earlier American optimism, all is conceived of in terms of a dynamic flow as interacting parts rise into existence and dissolve by their inevitable organic and aesthetic responsiveness to one another and to the emerging and progressive whole that they constitute. Ultimately, it is the becoming of God.

But, as Cobb recounts on the first page of Sustainability, he was prompted by his son, Cliff, to read Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, and was shaken by it. he admits that it is "a potboiler," filled with "exaggerations and errors," yet it appears to have prompted a doubt that the whole historical, organic, interactive, aesthetic dynamic of progress was benign, that it would survive, or even that it could lead to a wider human flourishing. Indeed, Ehrlich predicts catastrophe. The dynamic, emerging process was leading to death and destruction.

What Cobb confronted seems to be more than another American jeremiad and more than another Mailthusian meditation. It was at least the reality of sin, traditionally a weak point of process optimism—a defect under continued discussion by, for example, Marjorie Suchocki, in many ways Cobb’s heir as a leader of process thought. [3] Closely related, it is also possible that he also began to suspect that apocalyptic thought had some validity, a suspicion that process thought was designed to overcome, for apocalyptic thought held to a dualism—although civilizations shall be shattered and the earth shall fall to pieces and life shall come to an end, another, truer, more real reality remains.

We leave to one side, for this review, extended reflections on the relationship of apocalyptic thinking to modern liberal theology generally, but it is an issue worthy of some attention. Certainly the United States has been well supplied with catastrophic texts, many of which are couched in scientific language, yet seem to attract the attention of major theologians. Any decent list would surely have to include Rachel L. Carson’s Silent Spring, Meadows and Meadows’ Limits to Growth, Robert Heilbroner’s An Inquiry into the Human Prospect, Jeremy Rifkin’s Entropy, Jonathan Shell’s Nuclear Winter, and perhaps Gibson Winter’s Nuclearism. It is at least intriguing that theologians and pastors who would not be caught dead referring to The Late, Great Planet Earth seem impelled to believe that the more (Dramatically we portray the gaping jaws of hell environmentally the more likely a return to the righteousness of yesterday.

And how fascinating that so many see the source of the ills in those social, economic, legal, and technological developments that have roots in the transcendental, even dualist, thought that God is other than the world, and that in our obedience to God we may be called upon to change the world. It is indeed a crisis if those theologians who press toward monism discover that they have no place to go when the material world begins to look unreliable.

The little book under review here contains an account of Cobb’s encounter with the limits of nature and history, and of his pilgrimage into a new activist, pro-ecological stance. The argument is, in outline, simple: Nature and history and divinity are bound together in one seamless web, they are under threat, they must be saved, we must save them, and we can do so by returning to a premodern world! The fuller argument is subtle, careful, and complex.

He presents in Sustainability a narrative version of the argument that is more systematically developed in his joint work with Herman E. Daly and his son Cliff: For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future.[4] It now appears that this work is his masterwork, the main message that he wants to leave to the church, the public, and the next generation of scholars. And it is more than intriguing that he wrote it with Daly, the long-term ecologist-economist who is known for a quarter century of intense criticism of mainstream economic theory. Sustainability, based on various lectures and talks, is the short, popular version of this massive effort.

What is theologically interesting is that, in spite of a number of nods to other issues, the governing motif of these works is the structural threat to the biosphere, and thus about how to re-integrate humanity into the "natural" order. Although not fully sympathetic with everything that some of the "deep ecologists" or "Gaia theorists" advocate, these works stand, more than any other works I know, as theological manifestos for an American Green Movement—one book is in a more academic form for the university and seminary, the other in a more confessional mode for the church and community study group. Various parts or implications of this position are also finding their way into a variety of pastor-oriented journals, as can be seen in Cobb’s arguments against free trade in Theology and Public Policy, [5] his exchanges with Dennis P. McCann in The Christian Century over NAFTA, [6] and his debates with Robin Klay in Perspectives over GATT. [7]

Of central concern throughout are problems of resource depletion, of the disappearing ozone layer, and of the greenhouse effect; but these broaden to include agriculture, population, and tax and land-use policies. As these are presently structured, they are all seen as obviously threatening to the human future in the long run and to the quality of life in the short run. And the chief cause of this evil is the pressure for economic growth, an evil fomented by mainline economics, the dominant political parties, the multinational corporations, and international trade agreements, all of which are dominated by false philosophies.

Cobb is a true intellectual. Indeed, it is refreshing to find a social critic who takes ideas seriously. He thinks they make a difference and are not simply the by-products of social location. Thus, failures in economic, political, and ecological life are due to failures of a philosophical, ethical, and theological sort. Especially culpable here are abstract modes of thought (accusations of the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness" appear frequently) that are rooted in dualistic metaphysics that separate history from nature, self from society, God from the world, or theory from practice. In these arguments, Cobb’s views overlap with the democratic-socialist views that have dominated most religious interpretations of contemporary economic life for a generation. [8]

Other preoccupations of the church over the last couple of decades have focused on development policies, poverty, the changing roles of women, and the merits of socialism. Most attempt to include the neglected and impoverished peoples of the world and to find a just pattern for life in the midst of growing international interdependence. Whether one bends toward the liberationist options of mainline Protestant leaders such as Walter L. Owensby or Audrey R. Chapman, with their contempt for contemporary directions, [9] or toward the democratic-capitalist options of Catholic Michael Novak or evangelical Amy Sherman, who suggest that ecumenical Protestantism has abandoned (or failed to ground deeply enough) its own best legacies in economic thought, [10] most economists and theological commentators seek wider economic development for the sake of justice, inclusiveness, and human well-being. These imply growth. Certainly no politician can argue against these today and hope to be elected in any democratic procedure.

Cobb focuses the discussion elsewhere and, without being overtly confrontive about it, challenges them all. The question, thus, is whether he or they are on the right track. He clearly opposes the present steps toward the globalization of the economy, for he believes that it will damage the poor in developing countries, reduce the political will to upgrade welfare in the United States, make it more and more difficult for political power to control the corporations, and most particularly exacerbate those pressures for growth that will degrade the environment. [11] His views are shared among some social activists who are close to the North American unions, in spite of the fact that many economists, by far the majority, have argued that the analyses to which Cobb and the unions appeal are questionable. Indeed, that is the substance of a very carefully documented critique of Daly and Cobb’s work by the noted ethicist-economist, Daniel Finn, delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics in January of 1994. [12]

The core issues, however, are not only those of getting the data straight or about the best ways to calculate the probable consequences of this or that development or policy. These are important, but they are not ordinarily the dimensions of economic or ecological analysis in which theologians or pastors make their greatest contributions. In fact, the bulk of that debate is often best left to the professional economists, from whom clergy can learn a good deal if they pay close enough attention to learn the difference between sound and shaky arguments.

The core issues that properly concern theologians and pastors, as Cobb knows, have to do with the kind of theological-ethical glasses one wears as one attempts to discern the moral and spiritual meanings of the data, to see in what respects they comport with our deepest understanding of how God wants us to live in the world. And Cobb has been in the process of regrinding his glasses for some time. If he is to be challenged in theological-ethical circles, this is the area that will have to be taken into consideration.

He has obviously been influenced much by Lynn White’s "The Historical Roots of the Environmental Crisis." This often-reprinted essay attributed the greater part of the environmental crisis to the triumph of technology in the "Christian West." This development was itself generated by a culture infused with the notion of a transcendent, sovereign God who commands humanity to till the garden and to name the beasts. In other words, "having dominion" is the source of the crises we face. Against this tradition, White advocates a recovery of the ethic of St. Francis, a new communion with the birds and beasts (although the idea that Francis preaches to the animals in part because he wants to convert them is lost on White).

Such writings brought Cobb to reject ever the more firmly the "dualism of history and nature, of mind and matter" that, he believes, led to "the most fundamental distortion contributed by Christianity"—anthropocentrism, the idea that God was and we should be primarily concerned with humanity’s salvation. And it allowed him to see more clearly the implications of ecological thinking that had been present in his teachers, Alfred North Whitehead and Bernard Meland, but that he had not previously seen.

Still more, he found a number of conversation companions, themselves also widely recognized scholars who have played a continuing role in his thought. Of special importance has been David Griffin who has attempted to join process thought to contemporary liberation and postmodernist critiques of enlightenment rationality; Paulo Solieri, the "archologist" or philosophical visionary of architectural design who has attempted in both theoretical and practical terms to use contemporary technology to construct human habitats friendly to ecology; and the Australian biologist Charles Birch, with whom he wrote The Liberation of Life From the Cell to the Community. [13] Charles Birch became one of the leading figures in framing and gui(ling the World Council of Churches Conference on Faith, Science and the Future that was held at MIT in 1979, which focused on the quest for a "just peace and sustainable" society—one now replaced by the title "justice, peace and the integrity of creation." Cobb’s renewed accent on "sustainability," rather than on the highly ambiguous "integrity of creation," is significant. (Is the integrity actual, ideal, eschatological, or what?)

It is under the influence of these conversations that Cobb has come to believe that we stand on the brink of disaster.

We now see that in much of the world efforts to improve the quality of life have done as much harm as good. Improved medical care, new agricultural methods, and humanitarian aid in times of crisis have greatly increased population without enabling the masses of people to rise above the subsistence level. Education has raised expectations and heightened dissatisfaction without improving the capacity of people to deal with their real problems. Technology combined with increased population has speeded up the processes of environmental deterioration so that the capacity of the land to support people in the long run has diminished. Global trade has made survival dependent on increasingly precarious arrangements.

Thus, he speaks of an urgent need for a drastic change in how we live. We need to face the fact, he says, that we live in a world of limits; we need to form a society that is both "in balance with other species and [based] primarily on the renewable resources of the planet." Therefore, we need to undertake a "disengagement from the system of acquiring and maintaining property and from all the values and involvements associated with it." We also need to exercise a new rigorous frugality. This means, among other things, the designation of local "bio-regions," areas where self-sufficient eco-economic systems can develop on their own, in harmony with their natural environment. This notion itself, however, is very difficult, for it is not at all clear what a self-sufficient bio-region would look like in a day of complex communications and technology, or in a day when Europe, Southeast Asia, southern Africa and the Americas are moving toward greater eco-economic interdependence.

Cobb’s purpose is to evoke a commitment to a new lifestyle and a new society. He wants the church to become a part of a new communitarianism, a kind of localism that is willing to drop out of, even resist, the wider global developments that are today widely evident but that in his judgment are provoking disaster. At the same time, he wants to abandon the supernaturalist dimensions of Christianity so that we can more easily resonate to the naturalist impulses present in our material life and engage in a closer dialogue with the world religions such as Buddhism that do not have a focus on a transcendent God.

One can almost hear him say, "Come home, come home to the simple life, to the gentler days of villages, farming, and front porch swings." One hears echoes of Ruskin’s nostalgia for the harmony of the medieval manor in contrast to the din of modern factories, or of James’ preference for the Virgin over the dynamo as the central symbol of power in society, or of Schumacher’s "small is beautiful" against the "great industrial city." At its best, Cobb has made a powerful case for the "Prairie Home Companion"; at its most frightening worse, he touches on themes that led Pol Pot to his violent deconstruction of every tendency toward modernization. Throughout, one feels the mandate: "Forward to the nineteenth century!"

How fascinating that, on many points, Cobb joins a number of leading thinkers who have pressed for what can only be called an increased disengagement from the dominant institutions of contemporary life, as if we live already in a new "dark ages." Yet, he and many others simultaneously if disjunctively call for a new drive to control people by political means. Should we seek a post-communist command economy to control technological development, to make the corporations subject to the nation-state, to prevent globalization from disrupting local cultures, to stop, even to deconstruct all that presses toward cosmopolitan growth?

One can agree that new levels of stewardship are required in regard to the biophysical universe. Our increased capacity to alter our environment demands a corresponding level of accountability. Surely it is true that we need at least as many specialized farms and controlled environments to protect endangered species as we need facilities to develop new species through bioengineering. There is, no longer, any way of ducking the responsibility for taking care of our world. And one can appreciate the massive effort that Cobb has made, with his colleagues and companions, to grasp a sense of the whole. They are thoughtful and without a discernible trace of malicious intent.

It is also possible to see how those who thought, over the last generation, that something like liberation economics would be the wave of the future and who remain hostile to or puzzled by current developments, would be attracted to a vision such as this one. Few have tried anything like this in regard to theology, economy, and ecology. He deserves to be read and studied. As one student remarked in a class discussing his work, "this is worth a whole semester."

But in the final analysis, I think we should not follow this direction. And I do not think we should follow it for two related reasons. One is theological, the other is social-ethical. I think that Cobb, like many today, is confused theologically about the nature of nature. It is not necessary to reject everything that comes from the Enlightenment to point out that it conflated the terms "creation" and "nature." Since then, when we speak of nature, we ordinarily mean the biophysical universe, with the implicit understanding that its patterns and dynamics are the ultimate frame of reference, the way God wants things to be. In the attempt to avoid a transcendence that becomes dualistic, Cobb is tempted to a naturalistic, geocentric monism that loses theological and thus also human amplitude. Both the height and the depth are obscured.

In contrast, when one speaks of "creation," one signals that the biophysical universe is not the whole or the norm, but a temporal artifact that is subject to norms and ends that are beyond it. Indeed, the notion of "fallen nature" suggests that, while traces of God’s law and purposes are inevitably scripted into the deep character of all that is, the natural things of the world are out of order or confused of direction in one or another respect. It is not that finitude is by itself evil but, rather, that finite reality has betrayed its original design and goal. To gear ourselves only into nature, thus, is to degenerate further. This is how we know that the status quo is not as it should be, and why reverting to the status quo ante is no solution. Nature, including human nature, can only be rightly ordered and fulfilled by being transformed through a conversion, a sanctification, marked by crucifixion and resurrection, a "creative destruction" that brings a new kind and quality of existence.

This classic theological insight has been obscured or rejected by many current developments in theology, but the costs may be extremely high, for its implications may well be true not only of personal moral and spiritual life, but of the entire biophysical cosmos as well. The scriptural tradition states this in revealing images. There is no return to the simpler garden. That path is cut off by unassailable powers of destruction. Instead, the future is toward the universal city for all peoples, to which and for which the creatures, plants, and even the river of life are to be redesigned. Nature, in other words, has to be transformed to be what God intended it to be, to accord with standards that are not complete in nature itself.

Cobb wants to overcome all unnecessary tensions between culture and nature, and to see both theologically. With this, I am in full accord. But his theological program tends to make economy into local culture, press culture toward nature, and identify nature’s becoming with the divine. It simply is not clear how this immanentalization of God could prove to be capable of facing the central demand of our time—to use the technology that is now on the horizon to transform nature in ways that enhance the global structures of a graceful, cosmopolitan civilization able to serve the whole of humanity. This would demand a loving, just, and stewardly dominion of nature, for the sake of humanity and in service of God. It is doubtful that the tendency to a monistic naturalism implicit in process thought or in biospheric thinking, or in them in combination, can prompt us to accept this vocation or to discern how that ought to be done.

This theological point would, to be heard in our world, have to defend itself against the charge that it is the source of all our ills. But that case becomes easier to make on simply empirical grounds as data about the ecologically devastating conditions in both traditional, pretechnological societies and in the antitheological socialist societies of the former Eastern European countries becomes available. It is still not quite acceptable to say so, but the accusation that transcendental and conversionary theism generally and Christianity particularly are the primary source of our environmental ills (as well as of colonialism, imperialism, militarism, poverty, and the oppression of minorities and women), as many are saying today, is an argument of escalating rhetorical influence, but of declining credibility. The damage to ecology anti to populations wreaked by the most anti— Christian regimes of Eastern Europe and the non—Christian regions is inestimable. [14] Indeed, the European press has more widely reported than the U.S. press the World Health Organization’s finding that "nowhere in the history of humanity have the air, the land, the water and the people been more systematically poisoned" than in Eastern Europe, and the deepest ecological/economic crisis areas of Africa, Latin America, and Asia—or for that matter, of Europe and America—can hardly be said to be those most influenced by a pervasive commitment to a transcendent God. It appears to be the case, indeed, that monistic, naturalist, and humanistic worldviews are the ones that most dramatically degrade both the biosphere and humanity.

Finally, let me draw attention to a frightening although unintended social—ethical implication of this work. It is doubtful whether Cobb has yet tried to imagine what it would take to actualize his vision. Most conscientious, committed, concerned, thoughtful people do not believe his and Daly’s analysis of how things are or how they ought to be. But, for the moment, let us presume that it is, say, 6o percent correct—too high in my judgment, but not a bad percentage for a theological ethic trying to work with vast themes and complex data and adequate to our thought experiment. How will people be persuaded to live in the ways he suggests? One can imagine anabaptist-like subcultures or kibbutzim, perhaps neo-monastic experiments, or a new burst of 1960s-like communes as experimental efforts. And these perhaps ought to be tried. They certainly have had an effect in the past, and perhaps over several generations, these could shape some new directions.

But one would expect that for the most part they would be grandly ignored. Yet, if the situation is as dire as Cobb says it is, action must be taken now. And this is the problem: the measures he proposes would and could only be enforced at the cost of massive violations of human rights, and by dismantling the fragile but promising structures of technological know-how, international law, trade, and communication by which we are building up a still-feeble sense of what it means to be a single humanity on a single globe, under God and responsible for a common world. The ethical task of our generation may well be to engage in the formation of a cosmopolitan civilization on a more genuinely reformed and genuinely catholic basis. It may be true that our religious traditions are part of the problem, but the problem may lie less in an overweening zeal for transcendence than in the localistic immanentalism of American religion, the fissiparous sectarian impulses in much of Protestantism, and the anti-institutional instincts of today’s residual romanticism.

Suppose at the very least that people do not want to become communitarians or return to the farm or trade only in their assigned bioregions. Suppose some become convinced of their obligation to advocate free trade, and to nurture the formation of corporations that reach around the globe in order to supply goods and services in the quantity and quality that they believe best serve others and generate capital to meet future challenges. Suppose people do not want to stay in their valleys or in their villages, and think that it is their calling to find a place in the global city. What would it take to stop this, as Cobb wishes? It is only a slight exaggeration to say that, as some would have put Quakers in charge of the Pentagon to solve the arms race a generation ago, Cobb’s proposals prompt us to try to imagine the Amish in charge of the globe’s economic future—although he wants less to arrest the development of technology than to use technology to arrest development.

Nevertheless, we at least face a big problem if people do not believe that this analysis of the situation is correct, and do not think that the conceptual framework on which the analysis is based is faithful religiously, accurate socioeconomically correct ecologically, or justifiable ethically. A key problein in the latter regard is that to enforce these provisions would lead us in the direction of a massive exercise of coercive authority. Other scholars who have similar views to Cobb’s have begun to speak quite openly about the necessity of a new tyranny, even to speak favorably of the issue of the Chinese cultural revolution. [15] The failure to face this prospect is one of the most critical failures of the volume, a fatal exercise of misplaced concreteness if there ever was one.

In the final analysis, the processes of this world must be seen in the context of a wider and deeper ecology, for ethical, practical, and especially soteriological reasons. Transformation is required. Sustainability in this model is not likely to be sustainable.



1. See the skeptical treatment of these developments by Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanaush, Global Dreams: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order (New York; Simon & Shuster, 1994).

2. See a parallel account in Cobb's "Intellectual Autobiography," Religious Studies Review 19 (1993):9-11; and the reviews of his contributions by Delwin Brown and Linell Cady in Religious Studies Review 19 (1993):11-17.

3. See Marjorie Suchocki, The End of Evilo: Process Eschatalogy in Historical Perspective (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988).

4. Herman E Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr., with Clifford W. Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economhy toward Community the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989)

5. John B. Cobb, , "Against Free Trade," Theology and Public Policy 4, no. 2 (Fall 1992): 4-16..

6. Dennis P. McCann and John B. Cobb, Jr., "Serenity, Courage and Wisdom in the Global Market: An Exchange on NAFTA," The Christian Century 110 (November 10, 1993): 1129-1141.

7. John B. Cobb, Jr. "Ethics, Economics and Free Trade," Perspectives 6 no. 2 (February 1991).

8. See Mark Ellingsen, The Cutting Edge: How churches Speak on Social and Ethical Issues (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., (1993); Ronald H. Preston, Religion and the Ambiguities of Capitalism (London: SCM Press, 1991) and Robert L. Stivers, ed., Reformed Faith and Economics (Lanhain: University Press of America, by arrangement with the Advisory Council on Church and Society of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. 1989).

9. See Walter L. Owenshy, Economics for Prophets: A Primer on concepts, Realities, and Values in Our Economic System (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988); and Audrey R. Chapman, Faith, Power and Politics: Political Ministry in Mainline churches (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1991).

 10. See Michael Novak, The Catholic Ethic and the New Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Free Press, 1993; and Amy Sherman, Preferential Options A Christiain and Neoliheral Strategyfor Latin America’s Poor (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., (1992).

11. See the summary of these arguments in Cobb, "Against Free Trade," 4-16.

12. Daniel Finn, "International Trade and Sustainable Community: On the Bioregional Critique of Mainstream Economics," Journal of Religious Ethics (forthcoming).

13. Charles Birch and John B. Cobb, Jr., The Liberation of Life: From the Cell to the Community (London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

14. See, e.g., Paul Kennedy, Preparing for the Twenty-First century (New York: Random House, 1993).

15. See, e.g., Garrett Hardin, Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994 and Donald Worster, The Wealth of Nature: Enviromnental History and the Ecological Imagination (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). Worster argues, incidentally, that the causes of our modern crisis are not transcendental religion or dualism, but "secularism" with its peculiar definitions of and relation to "progress and reason."