Rewilding Life Together: Bonhoeffer, Spirituality, and Interspecies Community

“Reading Bonhoeffer’s Life Together as an interspecies text opens kinship with forms and faces in every place, fur and scales, bark and fungi and feathers, Christian community animate and wild and inclusive of all. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Lisa E. Dahill California Lutheran University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

My sabbatical project is to write major portions of two volumes delineating an ecological reading of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s vision in his _Ethics_ of God and world as one reality in Jesus Christ. In the first, more scholarly volume (under consideration with Baylor University Press), I trace the roots and implications of this non-dualism through Bonhoeffer’s major writings. In the second volume, geared for a more general audience, I explore how this vision takes shape in a “life together” that expands Bonhoeffer’s anthropocentric theology of Christian community (in his book _Life Together_) into the fully interspecies reality his later non-dualism makes possible. The research I am proposing includes three pieces: 1) a survey of theological and eco-philosophical scholarship to ground a fully interspecies, materially resonant ecclesiology; 2) immersion in my own California bioregion through study of four pairs of creatures and elements (steelhead trout + river water; Ponderosa pines + mycorrhizal networks; brown bears + dung beetles; and fire + rising, warming, acidifying ocean waters) that generate metaphors, liturgies/rituals, images of the divine, and forms of discipleship distinctive to this bioregion; 3) development of a contemplative bio-theological methodology for such place-based experience of "life together." The project ultimately centers in practices of love and sustained attention to place (in all its creaturely and human complexity) from which this contemplative imagination arises, allowing readers to practice this process themselves, in their own locations. Thus my work itself -- across these two volumes -- intends to invite people into Bonhoeffer’s non-dualism, a healing antidote to the fracturing of society, nature, communities, and psyches. I hope this work may participate in the Spirit's dissolving of long-standing alienations, rewilding our sense of who belongs in church and restoring depleted clergy and laity through new forms of presence and love.