Posted by Marcia Penner Freedman
This is not a post about climate change. But somehow I’m unable to talk about spirituality and nature, at the same time ignoring the extreme weather events occurring around the world. To me it seems clear that, in Bob Dylan’s words, something’s happening here, and Mother Nature doesn’t seem too pleased about it.
A few stats:
- The 2016 autumn freeze-up of Arctic sea ice was exceptionally slow, but even stranger things were going on. In mid-November, the sea ice actually started melting
- Last year saw examples of extreme transitions from drought to above-average rainfall. The most dramatic transition occurred in Australia, which resulted in extensive flooding of inland rivers. (Those of us who live in the foothills of the Sierra can relate to this.)
- Two separate outbreaks of major hailstorms occurred in Texas, one around Dallas–Fort Worth in March and a second centered on San Antonio in April, resulting in hailstones with a diameter of 4 1/2 inches.
- Outside the United States, a notable hailstorm occurred in the Brabant province of the Netherlands on 23 June, with hailstones up to 4 inches.
- The world is getting warmer, but parts of it are actually getting colder. In 2016, northern and central Argentina, Paraguay and lowland Bolivia experienced significantly cooler temperatures on land. South-western Australia experienced its coldest winter since 1990.
- British Columbia is suffering through its second-worst fire season.
- By December 8, 2017 Corpus Christi, Texas had received more snow than Denver.
- In July, Death Valley experienced the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
- During a dinnertime conversation, friends who live in foothills of the Sierra express alarm at the unseasonable appearance of flowers in their gardens, the need to continue watering their plants because of the lack of rain, and the early budding of otherwise winter dormant trees.
OK, I said this is not a post about climate change. So, now to the point…. Ecospirituality. This is a global, sacred, nondenominational movement aimed at strengthening our spiritual connection to nature, at changing our very view of what nature is.
Ecospirituality affirms the holiness and inherent value of all of nature. By pairing spirituality and religion with science, ecospirituality seeks to transform the human relationship to the land into a healing force for our degraded Earth.
How to understand ecospirituality:
Think of spirituality and religion partnering with biology and ecology, of holiness and reverence and benevolence hooked up with stewardship and responsibility for the land. Imagine justice and equality for all living beings attached to environmental activism, and religious and spiritual transcendence grounded in ethical constraint.
Ecospirituality does not eschew established religion. To the contrary, the broad spectrum of supporters associated with the movement includes world religions, and brings a variety of practice and ritual to the table in a shared commitment to reviving our ailing environment.
Deep Ecology. Green Religion. Dark Green Religion. Ecofeminism. Nature Religion. GreenFaith. These are just a few of the groups that have emerged under the umbrella of ecospirituality .
In 1949, in response to his observation of the rising commercialism and materialism associated with the outdoors, environmentalist Aldo Leopold proposed the establishment of a land ethic.
Leopold conceived of the land ethic as the third step in the evolution of the human ethical experience, as introduced in the Bible: the first was the Ten Commandments, which placed constraints on individuals in our struggle to relate morally to one another; the second, The Golden Rule, which set down a framework for the struggle for the moral relationship between the individual and society.
This third ethic Leopold envisioned as an ecologic one based on the premise that all members of nature, including humans, are interconnected and interdependent. As such, it would lay out the parameters for the moral relationship of man to all the land, including the soils, waters, plants, and animals.
According to Leopold, an ecologic ethic, by encompassing all of life, would impose a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence.
Perhaps the ecospiritual movement, in taking up this struggle, will be able to contribute to the formulation of an ecologic ethic, one that reframes the relationship of humans to nature from owner and overseer to that of partner and comrade.
Perhaps, through an ecologic ethic, degrading environmental trends like climate change can actually be reversed.