Wednesday, July 15, 2009

God is Great, God is Green

The Economist recently had a piece about religious leaders who are making the environment, particularly climate change, a focus of their social activism. Here is a quote:

"The Dalai Lama, for example, has drawn attention to a potential disaster which looms in his home region of Tibet: the melting of glaciers which serve as “Asia’s water tower” by feeding the rivers on which billions of people depend. London’s Bishop Chartres has spearheaded efforts to make England’s established church much greener in its thinking and in its own behaviour. A plan called “Shrinking the Footprint” is intended to slash the carbon emissions of Anglican buildings, from cathedrals to vicarages to church halls.

And in Istanbul this week, dozens of prominent Islamic scholars delved into their tradition for answers to environmental problems. Originating in a land where water is very scarce, the Muslim faith has much to say about the need to use resources in a just and cautious way." (Read the whole thing here).

Commenting on the positive influence that religious leaders can exert in the world, Baha'u'llah wrote, "Those divines...who are truly adorned with the ornament of knowledge and of a goodly character are, verily, as a head to the body of the world, and as eyes to the nations. The guidance of men hath, at all times, been, and is, dependent upon such blessed souls" (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 16). That religious leaders are using their spiritual and moral influence to encourage people to "go green" is a welcome development. The Baha'i Faith has long recognized the importance of the relationship between human beings and the natural world:

"We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the
other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions."
(The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 84)

In 2006, Baha'is hosted a conference exploring religion, science and climate change at Oxford. The Baha'i World News Service quoted a conference participant as saying, "these issues of climate change need to be integrated into the grassroots dialogue of the Baha'i community."

"The pivot of the Baha'i teachings is oneness," said Ms. Villiers-Stuart. "Every part of the universe is connected. If we could explore the teachings of the faith to value the role of the earth in our spiritual development, this will naturally make us want to love and be connected to it, which will help sustainable development."