Sustainability and Spirituality

SUNY Press
Free sample

Argues that true sustainability must be based in spirituality and looks at religious communities dedicated to the environment.

This groundbreaking book explores the inherent interconnectedness of sustainability and spirituality, acknowledging the dependency of one upon the other. John E. Carroll contends that true ecological sustainability, in contrast to the cosmetic attempts at sustainability we see around us, questions our society's fundamental values and is so countercultural that it is resisted by anyone without a spiritual belief in something deeper than efficiency, technology, or economics. Carroll draws on the work of cultural historian and "geologian" Thomas Berry, whose eco-spiritual thought underlies many of the sustainability efforts of communities described in this book, including particular branches of Catholic religious orders and the loosely organized Sisters of the Earth. The writings of Native Americans on spirituality and ecology are also highlighted. These models for sustainability not only represent the tangible link between ecology and spirituality, but also, more importantly, a vision of what could be.

“…a useful documentation of some contemporary and truly radical counter-cultural models.” — Missiology

“John Carroll has written a thought-provoking and important book. Carroll … shows that individuals and groups who have a strong spiritual connection to the earth often have a very high level of commitment to ecology … he explores specific principles and practices of sustainability within religious communities, which can serve as useful models for broader application within our society.” — Academia

"Carroll begins his journey looking for examples of environmental sustainability, and I think he has found them—more convincing examples than people who have looked in more obvious and secular places. But along the way he has found something related, and just as important: examples of human sustainability, hints about ways that we might reshape our attitudes as compellingly as our kitchens and gardens and boilers." — from the Foreword by Bill McKibben

"Carroll clearly addresses a key topic for those interested in the relationship between ecology and ethics, and makes clear that sustainability is not possible without a deep change of values and commitment to a lifestyle. It cannot be achieved simply as an expression of economic functionality nor as an expression of ideology alone." — Rosemary Radford Ruether, coeditor of Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans
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About the author

John E. Carroll is Professor of Environmental Conservation at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author and editor of many books, including (with coeditor Keith Warner) Ecology and Religion: Scientists Speak.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 16, 2012
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Pages
191
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ISBN
9780791484586
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Ecology
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Religion / Ethics
Religion / General
Religion / Monasticism
Religion / Spirituality
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the renowned and best-selling author of A History of God, a sweeping exploration of religion and the history of human violence.

For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness—something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present.

While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or Christianity’s Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faith—not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism—in its totality over time. As she describes, each arose in an agrarian society with plenty powerful landowners brutalizing peasants while also warring among themselves over land, then the only real source of wealth. In this world, religion was not the discrete and personal matter it would become for us but rather something that permeated all aspects of society. And so it was that agrarian aggression, and the warrior ethos it begot, became bound up with observances of the sacred.

In each tradition, however, a counterbalance to the warrior code also developed. Around sages, prophets, and mystics there grew up communities protesting the injustice and bloodshed endemic to agrarian society, the violence to which religion had become heir. And so by the time the great confessional faiths came of age, all understood themselves as ultimately devoted to peace, equality, and reconciliation, whatever the acts of violence perpetrated in their name.

Industrialization and modernity have ushered in an epoch of spectacular and unexampled violence, although, as Armstrong explains, relatively little of it can be ascribed directly to religion. Nevertheless, she shows us how and in what measure religions, in their relative maturity, came to absorb modern belligerence—and what hope there might be for peace among believers of different creeds in our time.

At a moment of rising geopolitical chaos, the imperative of mutual understanding between nations and faith communities has never been more urgent, the dangers of action based on misunderstanding never greater. Informed by Armstrong’s sweeping erudition and personal commitment to the promotion of compassion, Fields of Blood makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.
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