The Greening of Religion: Ethics and the Environment

Jul 3, 2020 | aging, books, culture, Health, politics, seniors, technology

Welcome to The Not Old Better Show. I’m Paul Vogelzang, and this is episode #461.

As part of our Smithsonian Associates, Inside Science, Earth Optimism Initiative series, today’s show is another in our series about the global conversation regarding climate.

Over the past half-century, from historian Lynn White’s influential 1967 essay attributing many of the causes of the ecological crisis to Latin Christianity to Pope Francis’s 2015 addresses to Congress and the United Nations about the need to combat climate change, the Christian churches—and to some extent the other world religions—have made a momentous shift toward incorporating environmentalism into their teachings. The change is evident in the emergence of ideas such as integral ecology in Catholicism, eco-kashrut in Judaism, and green Buddhism, as well as various forms of religious environmental activism.

Our guest today, ethicist and author Dr. William Barbieri answers our questions about how and why these religious traditions have adapted their teachings in response to ecological challenges, and about what we can learn from this process regarding the role of religions in the modern world. Dr. Barbieri discusses the ethical ramifications of the greening of Christianity, as well as other models of ecological spirtuality and ethics.
Dr. William Barbieri is associate professor of ethics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies and director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Catholic University of America.

My thanks to Dr. William Barbieri, joining us today to talk about Earth Optimism, and how the global conservation movement has reached a turning point, especially with religion. We all are aware, and it has been well documented the fast pace of habitat loss, the growing number of endangered and extinct species, and the increasing speed of global climate change. Yet while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and ecosystems, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to our conservation actions. Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability. Let’s support and celebrate Earth Optimism.

And my thanks always to you, my wonderful Not Old Better Show audience. Remember, stay safe everyone, practice smart social distancing, and Talk About Better. The Not Old Better Show. Thanks, everybody.
For details on Zoom from Smithsonian Associates, please go here>