Ecological theology: has the Internet replaced faith in God?

Like many of his fellow Jesus of Nazareth devotees, David Whitwell has never read the gospel. He claims, therefore, to be a non-believer (“I don’t believe in any God”), but is nonetheless nonetheless, as he puts it, a “Jesus Ecologist”, a faith in transformation, where God becomes the messenger of our well-being – even if the outcome is unknown.

Like Elmer Gantry, Whitwell’s persona is constructed through much of the material presentation that would, in more cynical times, have come to be expected of a living, breathing communicator of his side of the moral universe. His lectures reach across borders, economy, politics and morality to hammer home a message of human salvation.

Whitwell has an undeniable ability to spin his own narrative. Having been round the world, having come to terms with himself and his life, he is now hepherding an Ecologist Who Loves God – a series of monthly offerings designed to provide a place for similar seekers to gather and be congregated around a shared vision. “It’s about healing,” he says, noting that the start of Lent is “a time when we make decisions about how to get by and how to live, our mortality and our meaning”.

Whitwell’s initial journey to spirituality began when he (unlike many of his US counterparts) confronted his skin colour in a white patriarchal society. He worked for the ACLU and was working at the Maryland university when he confronted racial injustice on a college campus: “I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to let this go,’ so I went around to my college friends and asked for their stories, and one story led to another, which led to … well, it kind of snowballed from there.”

Leave a Comment