Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter an Ecological Phase

By Tucker, Mary Evelyn | E Magazine, November-December 2002 | Go to article overview

Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter an Ecological Phase


Tucker, Mary Evelyn, E Magazine


Over the past century, science has begun to weave together the story of a historical cosmos that emerged some 12 billion years ago. The magnitude of this universe story is beginning to dawn on us, as we awaken to a new realization of its vastness and complexity. At the same time, we are becoming conscious of the growing environmental crisis and of the rapid destruction of species and habitat. Just as we become conscious that the Earth took more than four billion years to bring forth this abundance of life, it is dawning on us how quickly we are foreshortening its future.

We need, then, to step back to assimilate what might be called "our cosmological context." As Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme suggest in their book The Universe Story, we are recognizing our participation in this great narrative and our responsibility for enhancing its future flourishing. If science gives us an understanding of the origins and unfolding of the universe, the story of cosmology gives us a sense of our place in the universe. And if we are so radically affecting the Earth by extinguishing other life forms and destroying our own nest, what does this imply about our religious sensibilities or our sense of the sacred? As science is revealing to us the particular intricacy of the web of life, we realize we are unraveling it. As we begin to glimpse how deeply embedded we are in complex ecosystems and dependent on other life forms, we see we are destroying the very basis of our continuity as a species. As the size and scale of the environmental crisis is more widely grasped, we are seeing our own connection to this destruction.

The world's religions are also being called to contribute to a new understanding of the universe story. The challenge for religions is both to rediscover and reinvent our role as citizens of the universe. This requires addressing such cosmological questions as where we have come from and where we are going.

If humans destroy this awesome matrix of mystery, where will we find sources of inspiration pointing us toward the unfathomable vastness of the sacred? Will religions assume a disengaged pose as species go extinct, forests are exterminated, soil, air and water are polluted beyond restoration, and human health and well being deteriorate? Or will they emerge from their own concerns to see that the survival of life on Earth is also at stake?

The environmental crisis calls the religions of the world to respond by finding their voice within the global community. As they identify their resources for deeper ecological awakening--scriptural, symbolic, ritual and ethical--they will be transforming the deep wellsprings of their traditions.

The transformation activates the human imagination toward a celebration of the awe and wonder of life--its emergence in the primal fireball, its unfolding in the universe story, and its flourishing in Earth's evolution. We begin to find our niche. We realize we are not only part of humankind but of Earthkind; we are not simply human beings but universe beings.

PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES

We need to underscore the dark side of religious traditions as well as their lateness in awakening to the environmental crisis. In addition, we should note the ever-present gap between ideal principles and real practices as well as the inevitable disjunction between modern environmental problems and traditional religious resources. For all of these reasons, religions are necessary but not sufficient for solutions to environmental problems. Thus they need to be in dialogue with other religions and other disciplines in focusing on environmental issues.

Religions certainly have their dark side. The human energy poured into religious traditions can be unleashed in both violent and compassionate ways as has been demonstrated throughout history. While the causes of conflict and war are frequently economic, political and environmental, the religious dimensions need to be understood as well. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter an Ecological Phase
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.