Spirituality and the Environment: Ecological Problems and What a Way to Go (790 words)

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Question

Watch “Welcome to the Anthropocene”
Read Lynn White Jr.’s “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”. It is one of the most influential papers on religion and ecology.
Read Steven Rockefeller’s “Faith and Community in an Ecological Age” pp 139- 171 of Spirit and Nature.
Read Thomas Berry’s “The World of Wonder” pp 15-22 of Spiritual Ecology.
Read John Stanley and David Loy’s “At the Edge of the Roof: The Evolutionary Crisis of the Human Spirit” pp 37-46 of Spiritual Ecology.

Rockefeller writes that “the environmental crisis cannot be addressed without coming to terms with the spiritual dimensions of the problem, and the spiritual problems of humanity cannot be worked out apart from a transformation of humanity’s relations with nature” and White writes that “more science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until we find a new religion or rethink our old one.”
Do you agree with their assessment that spirituality is playing a major role in our current environmental problems?
Why do they believe that Western religious traditions are exploitative of the natural environment?
Are they right?
Why or why not?
Respond to these questions in a well-organized essay backing up your position with examples from the readings.

Watch the film “What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire”.
In relationship to the film, what are the ‘stories’ that you live by?
Why?
How?
What myths inform the dominant worldview at the present?
Write up your thoughts on this grappling with the film and these questions.

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The assessment of White, Rockefeller, and Berry that spirituality is playing a major role in our current environmental problems is contentious. All three authors claim egoism is a problem, and in several ways, argue for a kind of altruistic call to action to confront ecological problems. White argues that it is the development of democracy that contributes to ecological harm. The democratic turn is corroborated, White thinks, by Christianity’s message in the specialness of humankind over and against nature. White argues that Christianity emphasizes the relationship between man and nature as special, and thus privileges mankind’s authority over the natural world. Rockefeller continues this line of thinking by arguing that man’s egoism will be his undoing, and if the fragile ecological system we live in is to be preserved, we must form communities rather than depend on our narcissistic desires....

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