remember, tuesday is soylent green day
When will we hear religious leaders come out against Soylent Green? Because it's made of people!
A profound new respect, even love, for the natural world can be found in definitive statements by the Pope and institutional commitments by the world's Sikhs, in interpretations of the Koran that forbid dynamite fishing in Tanzania and of the Torah that question whether or not low-mileage cars are kosher, in the way the World Council of Churches challenges the "prevailing economic paradigm" and the way Buddhist monks have organized against Asian deforestation. These and literally thousands of more examples show that the oldest of human institutions can face the demands of the present; and that human beings from around the world can see beyond what divides us to what we share.
Religious environmentalism includes vital new theologies which have reinterpreted scripture and demanded that, as theologian Larry Rasmussen puts it, we think about God "from the standpoint of earth community." Institutional commitment has been expressed in powerful declarations about global warming, pollution, and species extinction from leadership councils of virtually every faith in the world. And environmental action is now considered an essential component of the social justice commitments which are essential to the way people of faith express God's teaching in their everyday lives.
This bold new movement arose for a number of reasons. Like other people, those of faith value clean air, healthy water, and the aesthetic value of oceans and forests. From the 1970s on, therefore, religious environmentalism has grown for the same reasons as secular environmentalism. More particularly, people of faith have seen the use of nature as a sign or symbol of the divine put into serious question. When the heavens, which according the psalm 19 "declare the glory of God," are instead obscured by debilitating smog which makes it necessary for children and the aged not to go outside, a key element of faith is rendered doubtful. Indeed, even the most basic of religious rituals can be called into question by the environmental crisis. How are we to take the communion wafer or bless the Sabbath wine if both may be riddled with cancer causing pesticide residues?
Back when I was an undergrad, every couple of classes, particularly those that were being taught by vets of the enviro movement, we'd hear that one of the - no, the great mistake of American environmentalism was that early leaders made the decision to reject a religious context for their work - Lynn White's essay, "The Historic Roots of Our Ecological Crisis" probably being the last word for many years on the subject.
Anywho, this really made no sense to me at the time, but as research on teh thesis progresses, I'm beginning to realize just how deeply religious thinking penetrates a culture, and how profoundly it frames the way people think, even secular people.
Greener religious thinking doesn't justify environmentalism and ecology, but enriches it.