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A Great Plains land ethic is shaped by an intimate knowledge of and appreciation for the evolution, ecology, and aesthetics of the plains landscape. The landscape evokes a sense of wonder and mystery suggested by the word “sacrament.” The biblical concept of “covenant” points to God as a community-forming power, a creative process that has evolved into the earth community to which we humans belong. In contrast to an anthropocentric ethic which emphasizes human dominion over nature, a Theo-centric land ethic seeks a balance, reflected in Genesis 1–3, between humans who are members of the earth community and moral agents accountable to God for the earth. A land ethic identifies concrete practices of metanoia and healing: agricultural practices to address the loss and degradation of soil; conservation and protection of water sources; utilization of wind and solar energy; and prescribed burning to restore processes vital to the prairie ecosystem. The concept of subsidiarity suggests that practices of metanoia and healing are a combination of wise public policy balanced by personal, family, church, business, and community responsibility.

Keywords: Great Plains; Theo-centric; community; covenant; land ethic; metanoia; restorative justice; sacrament; subsidiarity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Box 31N. Newton, KS 67117316.283.7811, Email: 2: Dyck Arboretum of the Plains177 W. HickoryHesston, KS 67062620.327.8127, Email:

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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