From the "Psalms" in the Bible to the sacred rivers in Hinduism, the natural world has been integral to the world's religions. John Grim and Mary Tucker argue that today's growing environmental challenges make the relationship ever more vital. In this concise primer, they illustrate religion's role in sustaining people and the planet. The authors explore the history of religious traditions and the environment, illustrating how religious teachings and practices both promoted and at times subverted sustainability. Subsequent chapters examine the emergence of religious ecology, as views of nature changed in religious traditions and the ecological sciences. Yet the authors argue that religion and ecology are not the province of institutions or disciplines alone. They describe four fundamental aspects of religious life: orienting, grounding, nurturing, and transforming. Readers then see how these phenomena are experienced in a Native American religion, Orthodox Christianity, Confucianism, and Hinduism. Ultimately, Grim and Tucker argue that the engagement of religious communities is necessary if humanity is to sustain itself and the planet. They recount exemplary stories of groups and individuals who are inspired by their religion to work towards a healthy community of life.
"[...] Ecology and Religion will have performed a useful function if it persuades ecologists to take account of religious ideas (and vice versa), but it has too many flaws to be a truly seminal text."
– Sam Berry, The BES Bulletin 45(2), June 2014
"Grim and Tucker integrate vast personal experiences and serious scholarship across multiple global cultures and disciplines to produce keen, fresh insight for today's world. A compelling, inspirational, and hopeful look at a path to a meaningful and sustainable future."
- Jane Lubchenco, Former Administrator of NOAA
"A must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of ecology, religion, and ethics, and in the role that religions could play in resolving the complex environmental concerns of today."
- Eleanor Sterling, Director, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History
"An astonishingly comprehensive view of human relations with the natural world."
- John Cobb, Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies, Claremont University
"The almost unimaginable environmental challenge humanity faces – a daunting Gordian knot of science, plus ethical and moral values – demands ways forward. Those will be found at the intersection of science and religion. Nobody understands this thicket – so filled with hope, promise and complexities – better than John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker. Ecology and Religion lights the path forward."
- Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University
"How wonderful to have the world's leading authorities on religion and ecology, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, offer this profound but accessible examination of the field just as the world's religions are entering their ecological phase. This book is more than a source of deep understanding – it is an inspiration."
- James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
"John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker are two of the most well-known figures advocating religious ecologies – the bridging of scientific and religious worldviews. In their book Ecology and Religion, they argue that the religious component is a "missing link," "an important lens whereby humans can understand and reenvision their roles as participants in the dynamic process of life." [...] In volumes of this genre, their virtue must mirror their vice – that of being both sketchy and simultaneously insightful. "Painted in broad brushstrokes," the book is cosmopolitan in the original Greek sense, as in a citizen of the cosmos."
Introduction: Our Journey into Ecology and Religion
Chapter 1: The Nature of Religion: Orienting, Grounding, Nurturing, Transforming
Chapter 2: Problems and Promise of Religions: Limiting and Liberating
Chapter 3: Building on Diversity and Dialogue: Toward a Global Ethics
Chapter 4: Ecology, Conservation, and Ethics
Chapter 5: Religious Ecology and Views of Nature in the West
Chapter 6: Orienting: Orthodox Christianity and the Green Patriarch
Chapter 7: Grounding: Confucianism and Views of Nature
Chapter 8: Nurturing: The Salish Winter Dance
Chapter 9: Transforming: Hinduism and the Yamuna River in India
Epilogue: The Challenge Ahead: Creating Ecological Cultures
Questions for Discussion
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John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker are Senior Lecturers and Research Scholars at Yale University, where they teach in a Master's program in religion and ecology between the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School. They are founders of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale and Series Editors of World Religion and Ecology at Yale and Series Editors of World Religions and Ecology, from the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions. They won an Emmy for their film Journey of the Universe with Brian Swimme.