Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment

By Martin Palmer; Victoria Finlay | Go to book overview

2
How Did We Get Here?

Ahimsa—this is a fundamental vow and runs through the Jain tradition
like a golden thread. It involves avoidance of violence in any form, through
word or deed, not only to human beings hut to all nature. It means reverence
for life in every form including plants and animals. Jains practice the
principle of compassion for all living beings at every step in daily life
.

Jains are vegetarians.—The Jain Statement on Ecology

In the last 150 years the major religions of the world have suffered more persecution, more deaths and destruction of their sacred places by ideologies opposed to religion, than throughout the whole of the rest of recorded history. Yet the faiths are still here…

So how did we get to think so small?

The West has a particular genius for creating (and then seeking to spread) systems of belief that cannot stand other systems of belief. Where this was once thought only to be true of missionary Christianity, we can now see it at work in just about every other form of ideology that has originated in the West. Take Marxism. Marxism is a Western creation: it was built on a Judeo-Christian worldview, but its Truths, by which everything is to be seen and judged, are not based on spiritual values but on economic laws and the inevitable march of history. The worldwide spread of Marxism involved a deliberate attempt to destroy existing beliefs and value systems—whether religion, feudalism, or even basic capitalism. Its intolerance of competitors is one of its most disturbing characteristics.

Capitalism likewise finds little space for competing value systems. And in order to destroy them it invokes not revolution but quasi-divine powers called “market forces,” which are allowed the sovereign right to remove, ignore, or override other value systems. Even the many people

-15-

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Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Part 1 - Worlds of Difference 1
  • 1 - Changing Worlds 3
  • 2 - How Did We Get Here? 15
  • 3 - Changing Minds 23
  • 4 - Investing in the Future 37
  • 5 - Celebrating the Environment 49
  • Part 2 - The Faith Statements on Ecology 65
  • 6 - Introduction 67
  • 7 - Baha'i Faith 71
  • 8 - Buddhism 77
  • 9 - Christianity 83
  • 10 - Daoism 87
  • 11 - Hinduism 91
  • 12 - Islam 97
  • 13 - Jainism 107
  • 14 - Judaism 111
  • 15 - Shintoism 127
  • 16 - Sikhism 131
  • 17 - Zoroastrianism 145
  • Glossary 149
  • Selected Bibliography 153
  • About the Authors 157
  • Index 159
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