Faith in Conservation: New Approaches to Religions and the Environment

By Martin Palmer; Victoria Finlay | Go to book overview

4
Investing in the Future

No one lighting a lamp puts it under a basket, but on a lampstand and
it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine
before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory
to your Father in heaven
.—The Bible (Matthew 5:15–16)

More than one in six of the world’s population are Catholics.

At the height of the Great Terror in 1935, the French foreign minister suggested that Josef Stalin should take Catholicism seriously. The Soviet leader derisively replied: “The pope? How many divisions has he got?”1 The answer, of course, was none—popes no longer have armies. Yet ironically a few decades later it would be a pope—John Paul Π—who helped bring down the empire that Stalin built so ferociously. Furthermore, while the pope may not have an army in the conventional way he is head of the largest single voluntary organization in the world: the Catholic Church, with more than 1 billion followers worldwide and an influence to match.

This chapter shows how, in the struggles to create a better world, the potential “divisions” or “battalions” of the faiths have been largely ignored—or perhaps they have been invisible, even sometimes to themselves. It also argues that one religion or NGO or even the biggest bank in the world can have only a limited impact on its own—and that if we are really going to help support biodiversity, humans need to recognize, live with, and ultimately make use of our diversity in beliefs, experiences, and resources. This is acknowledged in the Millennium

1. Quoted in Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, vol. 1 of The Second World War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), chap. 8.

-37-

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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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