Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment

By Martin Palmer; Victoria Finlay | Go to book overview

1
Changing Worlds

O children of Adam!… eat and drink: but waste not by excess
for Allah loveth not the wasters
.—Holy Qur’an, Surah 7:31

In 1989, when communism fell in Mongolia, there were three registered Buddhist monks. Today, along with the government and the World Bank, Buddhism and the many revived monasteries are a fundamental part of the development and environmental program for the country.

The sounds of the explosions could be heard for miles. Even at night it was possible to spot the giant plume of water shooting up into the air, casting up its bounty into the night sky. Then, like sharks, the little boats would swoop in and trawl up the dead and dying fish—and not just fish. For anything that was swimming in the waters off the coast of Tanzania on those evenings when the dynamite fishermen went fishing, died in the blast.

For centuries, the Muslim fishermen of the Tanzanian coast had fished these waters. Based on islands such as Zanzibar or Masali, they depended on the sea and their harvests for their livelihoods and for the survival of their communities. Deeply religious, these poor communities eked out a living generation after generation. Then someone introduced dynamite. The results were dramatic. For centuries the fishermen had had to hope that they were casting their nets in the right places, deep enough and wide enough to make a decent night’s catch. Now, by throwing sticks of dynamite into the sea, they could haul in almost guaranteed catches and it took so little time.

What they did not know (and did not think was their business) was the terrible destruction they were doing, not just to the fragile ecosystem of coral and reefs but also to their own long-term survival. Dynamite wreaks havoc on the delicate balance of nature—of which fishermen are

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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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