Feminist theologian Sallie McFague argues that we must give the earth the attention it is due and recognize its subjectivity rather than having an arrogant viewpoint that assumes we have the right to control the planet. She states that by refusing to accept our place on earth we are sinning. I think it is fair to say that the Dave Matthews Band has a perspective that is similar to McFague’s. Song after song offers lyrics that acknowledge the earth as our holy Mother and demands that we recognize our place in the ecosystem and our personal responsibility for its continuation. For instance, “One Sweet World” calls us to be cognizant of the fact that without the wonders of nature we would be unable to sustain ourselves. We have taken the earth for granted and yet our very survival is dependent on the wellbeing of our planet. In this song, DMB ponders the question “if the green should slip to gray, would our hearts still bloody beat?”
“Dive In” from DMB’s recent album Big Whiskey not only acknowledges the seriousness of global warming and the devastation the earth has incurred, but also calls for us to “wake up” and recognize our own responsibility to heal the earth. We cannot simply hope that all will be okay if we “stay on our knees and keep praying” or assume that “everything is taken care of by those qualified to take care of it all.”
When listening to its music, it is nearly impossible to miss the purposeful eco-focus. DMB has multiple songs that focus on an eco-theological message and is also involved in environmental justice movements. Through music and action, DMB has demonstrated an eco-theology that demands recognizing the earth’s subjectivity and our place and responsibility in the ecosystem.
Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D. is a Feminist theologian, ethicist, and activist. She was recently appointed Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Ursuline College and is Co-founder of Feminism and Religion. In addition, Gina has taught at multiple universities including Claremont Graduate University, Loyola Marymount University, John Carroll University and Notre Dame College. Gina has authored multiple articles and the forthcoming book Rape Culture and Spiritual Violence, and is co-editor (with Rosemary Radford Ruether) of the forthcoming anthology, Feminism and Religion in the 21st Century. Her research interests are theologically and ethically driven, involve a feminist and interdisciplinary approach, and are influenced by her activist roots and experience working with survivors of rape and domestic violence. Gina can be followed on Twitter @FemTheologian and her website can be accessed at http://ginamessinadysert.com.