Wednesday, June 13, 2012
What environmentalists can learn from faith traditions
Many within the environmental movement are weary and skeptical of religion, whom they see being represented in the Bible waving Tea Party movement. Former presidential candidate and global climate change skeptic Rick Santorum noted "The Earth is not the objective; man is the objective."
The loud voices to the far right however do not fairly represent all within faith traditions. Martin Palmer is an Anglican minister who is seeking to help the conservation movement learn from religion. His article "Conservationists can learn a lot from religion" was printed in the StarTribune on 5/19/2012.
Palmer noted that there are many rigid thinkers on both sides, but perhaps even more within the conservation movement. They are always trying to "stop things", yet one of the oldest religious texts in the world, the Chinese book of I Ching, is a book about change. Jesus noted how for seeds to grow they must be firmly rooted. Seeds enthusiastically scattered on hard or shallow soil will die after a short time.
For the environmental movement to sustain itself over time Palmer suggests it might learn much from religion, which has been one of the most sustainable institutions on the planet. Religious organizations are also large land holders, owning five percent of the commercial forests. They also run half the world's schools and produce more weekly newspapers and magazines than does the European Union.
Many within the faith traditions have become actively involved within the environmental movement. The Sikhs have planted 25 million trees in Punjab in the last 11 years. The Daoists have 26,000 temples in China that will all be solar powered by 2016. Lutherans of northern Tanzania have pledged to plant 8.5 million trees around Mount Kilimanjaro, and are well on their way to meeting this goal.
Interfaith Power and Light is an organization that seeks to harness the power of faith communities to combat global warming. The Pachamama Alliance is also working with faith groups to develop conservation awareness and change. They will be holding their workshop "Awakening the Dreamer Within" on June 16th at Edina Community Lutheran.