Seeds Of The Kingdom: Utopian Communities In The Americas

Hardcover | May 17, 2006

byAnna L. Peterson

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In these skeptical and disillusioned times, there are still groups of people scattered throughout the world who are trying to live out utopian dreams. These communities challenge the inevitability and morality of dominant political and economic models. By putting utopian religious ethics intopractice, they attest to the real possibility of social alternatives. In Seeds of the Kingdom, Anna L. Peterson reflects on the experiences of two very different communities, one inhabited by impoverished former refugees in the mountains of El Salvador and the other by Amish farmers in theMidwestern U.S. What makes these groups stand out among advocates of environmental protection, political justice, and sustainable development is their religious orientation. They aim, without apology, to embody the reign of God on earth. The Salvadoran community is grounded in Roman Catholic socialthought, while the Amish adhere to Anabaptist tradition. Peterson offers a detailed portrait of these communities' history, social organization, religious life, environmental values, and agricultural practices. She discovers both practical and ideological commonalities in these two comparativelysuccessful and sustainable communities, including a strong collective identity, deep attachment to local landscapes, a desire to preserve non-human as well as human lives, and, perhaps unexpectedly, a utopian horizon that provides both goals and the hope of reaching them. By examining the process bywhich people struggle to live according to a transcendent value system, she sheds light on both the actual and the potential place of religion in public life. Peterson argues that the Amish and Salvadoran communities, geographically and culturally removed from the industrialized West, have relevancefor the political and environmental problems of the developed world. These communities have succeeded in the face of significant internal and external challenges, offering important practical and theoretical lessons on how to achieve ecological sustainability and social justice in the widerworld.

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In these skeptical and disillusioned times, there are still groups of people scattered throughout the world who are trying to live out utopian dreams. These communities challenge the inevitability and morality of dominant political and economic models. By putting utopian religious ethics intopractice, they attest to the real possibili...

Anna L. Peterson is Professor of Religion and affiliate Professor in the Center for Latin American Studies and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Florida. She is the author of Being Human: Ethics, Environment, and Our Place in the World and Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Cath...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:198 pages, 6.18 × 9.29 × 0.79 inPublished:May 17, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195183339

ISBN - 13:9780195183337

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"Environmentalists have relied heavily on the idea of community in the half-century since Aldo Leopold urged us to regard ourselves as members of the land community, but have generally dealt with it in abstract terms, as a good, while paying little attention to what community actually entails,or what it might cost to join a community or to extend the prerogatives of community beyond traditional boundaries. The great strength of Prof. Peterson's book is that she deals with actual communities, and deals with them concretely, going beyond the abstractions of philosophy to the concrete dataof anthropology, history and religious experience as she considers what it might actually mean to fashion---and to inhabit---a land community." --William R. Jordan III, author of The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature