13 September 2007

Religion Going Green?

Reposted from DeafDC.com
By Liz Stone on Wed 18 Jul 2007

Right now, nothing is more controversial than science and religion. Much of the world’s politics are driven by religious beliefs and ideals. Religion going green is a paradox. Is marriage between these two possible? A union between fact and faith? Why not? Science gives us definitions of what things are and why; religion gives us a meaning for life on Earth. There are plenty of issues that show the clashes between these two, including homosexuality, evolution and environment, but with a little out of the box thinking they can come together.

Let’s take the environment: The conservative movement finds plenty of blasphemy with the scientific methodologies used to declare the existence of global warming. Conservatives, by nature, practice caution. Defense and military spending are heavily supported by the conservative party (the major names in the conservative movement: Dick Cheney, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Ann Coulter — are all big on this). This is the same movement that supports pro-life activism, refuses to recognize same-sex marriages, and blocks stem-cell research from making the next medical breakthroughs. There are so many stances that go against the ideals of liberals who champion environmental awareness, human equality and freedom of choice. On the environmental side, the conservatives say there isn’t enough proof that the global climate is in danger. Many say the planet is just dandy. They’re practicing caution once again by not making the leap of actually caring about it.

But hold that “Yarg!” Even with all this happening, due to the overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is a reality, the “progressive” conservatives (another paradox here) are now using that caution to embrace ways to protect the planet. According to the blurb on Grist (great on-line environmental news) from LA Times in an article about big corporations tackling this problem by becoming green and continuing to make a profit, “Both business leaders and enviros described a sea change in corporate strategy that is expected to transform a corporate villain into a leader for the environmental cause.” A villain into a leader for the environmental cause? If corporate culture, notorious for its Republican leanings, is taking the helm on environmentalism, then just maybe there’s hope!

Another example comes from a Post article on the eco-kosher movement in the Orthodox Jewish community, which is basically combining Jewish dietary laws with new concerns about industrial agriculture, global warming and fair treatment of workers. “Eco-kosher is part of the greening of American religion—the rapid infusion of environmental issues into the mainstream of religious life.” This article also mentions the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals driving a Toyota Prius and more than 50 other evangelical Christian leaders pledging to reduce energy consumption. Suddenly, I’m imagining Ann, Dick, Trent, Pat, and Joe Lieberman walking around in bright orange Crocs. Seems like I just woke up from a dream where the religious fanatics are hugging the hippies of yesteryear.

All of this reminds me of a quote that reconciles the two forces beautifully. Years ago, I struck up a wonderful friendship with this person who is now a professor of biology at Gallaudet. One of our earliest conversations was about religion and science.

She shared this simple quote, from the D’var Torah (commentary on the Torah portion) at her cousin’s bat mitzvah. It left me stunned, even years later.

God gave us the earth to take care of.

Simple. Rings true. And how righteous, no matter if you’re seeing it from a scientific, political or religious standpoint. Whether you are a liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, atheist or religious fundamentalist, the truth is self-evident: It is our responsibility to take care of our environment.

Hmm…that’s food for thought.

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