Religion and Environmentalism

I became disgruntled with organized (Western) religion as a kid and didn't think much about its value until, ironically, I became more of an environmental activist. Like in the civil rights movement, churches are nourishing environmental causes, whether it was St. Stephen's hosting Tar Sands Action trainings or St. Columba's showing documentaries during the Environmental Film Festival. Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light is tapping into religion's potential to address the ethical vacuum in environmental debates and last week our local chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby co-hosted an event with them.

The panelists Yasir Syeed and Laura Bellows spoke movingly about how religion could counteract contemporary ideas about "resources": putting the "spirit" back in a nature which has largely been appreciated only for its monetary or utilitarian value.

I also visited the Washington National Cathedral today for an Easter organ concert and was tickled to stumble across grizzly bears, spawning salmon and jellyfish among the saints and biblical scenes on their stained glass windows:

Religion (done right, of course) is not so far from art and literature: we need their stories and metaphors to understand our relationship to other living things.