So far I’ve questioned whether we regard Land in Australia in terms of an object or a relationship, how we conceptualise Land, the myth of policy neutrality, values that shape environmental policy, the impact of ‘experiencing’ Land, and what responsibilities we have towards Land.
With all these inter-related questions tumbling around inside my head, I decided to give them some structure by putting pen to paper. The result is my book ‘From Terra Nullius to Beloved Companion: Reimagining Land in Australia’. Writing the book helped me ‘connect the dots’ between the many complex issues I had come across in my research.
The picture that emerged for me, however, was one of needing to break away from what I had begun to see as conventional insights and approaches to environmental protection. I also recognised the risks attached to publishing. Would what I wrote be regarded as too influenced by personal experience, too shaped by a faith outlook, too orientated towards a specialised readership niche, and too conceptual to gain substantive attention in the public square?
A litmus test for me was how the book was regarded by others. I drew much encouragement from comments I received. The book was received positively by opinion leaders not only in theological thinking on environmental matters, but also in scientific and legal spheres. For example:
This is an excellent book. It is beautifully designed, crafted, and written. It was a pleasure to read, and gripped my interest and maintained it from start to finish. Chris Dalton’s understanding and insight into the science and engineering of CSG production is of a high order. The tensions around CSG are well understood and provide a robust foundation for the theological, social sciences examined to build the case and contest of ideas developed in the book.
The fascinating way Chris Dalton examines Australian art and literature to bring to the fore insights as to the nature of the strong links between the land and Australians is an important and novel contribution. The book makes an original contribution to framing our conversation as to who we are as Australians and teaches us new insights at depths from art, culture, and religion. It is and will be a new player on the block. I believe it will make a difference in powerful new ways. It is needed. It is urgent.
[Dr John Williams, Founding Member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists]
Chris Dalton’s work is a unique and important contribution to the ongoing debates about environmental decision-making in Australian society. He sets out a range of persuasive theological arguments to support a change in how we see and treat Land, Country – our Earth. Chris also articulates how public theology can be a catalyst for enriching public policy considerations. He offers a rich analysis – and some instructive approaches – for ensuring theology, and matters of the human spirit, are woven together with other public policy considerations (economics, science) to help us create a more effective and meaningful process for public decision-making.
[Dr Michelle Maloney, Convenor, Australian Earth Laws Alliance]
Cooper Creek in flood by Pam Goldie
When I set out on my journey of discovery, to explore the issues surrounding the mining of CSG, I did not know what my destination would look like. One issue that emerged out of the mists enveloping science, economics, theology, law, art, poetry and experience was that of justice and the rights of Land.
This took me completely by surprise. My book provides some insights into how I reached this destination; the next few posts provide some snapshots of places I visited along the way. Like art, they are non-prescriptive, personal, open to different interpretations, and non-coercive. You, dear reader, will have your own opinions about the rights of Land, but my hope is that the book will help you, as it did me, to think through how you relate to the world around you and whether current environmental practices meet your aspirations.