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Religion and ecology: towards a communion of creatures

Rigby, K (2016) 'Religion and ecology: towards a communion of creatures.' In: Oppermann, S and Iovino, S, eds. Environmental humanities: voices from the Anthropocene. Rowman and Littlefield, London, pp. 273-294. ISBN 9781783489381

Abstract

For better or ill, religion informs the environmental views, values, relations, and behaviour of an overwhelming majority of people around the world, often in profound ways. For this reason alone, studies in religion and ecology should comprise a crucial component of the wider work of the environmental humanities. It is the first task of this essay to show how this has indeed been the case. Among the world’s many diverse religions, Christianity has become a dominant force globally. Christianity remains the most populous world religion, with some 3.2 billion followers, constituting over 31.5% of the global population (Pew Center). While the global predominance of practicing Christians is being challenged by the growth of Islam, estimated at 23.2% of the total population (ibid.) and growing rapidly, Christian traditions remain culturally influential, informing many of the secular attitudes, assumptions and institutions of modern western societies. Moreover, in light of the continuing geopolitical power of the USA, it is not insignificant that 78% of the US population identify as Christian of one kind or another (ibid.). If, as Larry Rasmussen has argued, it would be foolish for those with an interest in the prospects for a more sustainable world “to overlook the religious loyalties of some ten thousand religions and 85 percent of the planets’ peoples” (6), so too it behoves religious studies researchers in the environmental humanities to inquire into the potential for the ‘greening’ of Christianity. In my own case, I should acknowledge upfront that Christianity forms part of my own cultural formation, something that I accept as a problematic inheritance with which I continue to grapple, personally, politically and academically. Accordingly, the latter part of this chapter homes in on Christianity and ecology, with a view to tracing the lineaments of an emergent “communion of all creatures” (Rigby “Animal Calls”).

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2017 15:32
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 15:32
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/9312
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