Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2024) | Viewed by 11436

Special Issue Editor


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Environmental Studies Program, Yale National University Singapore College, Singapore 138527, Singapore
2. Environmental and Sustainability Studies, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424, USA
Interests: religion and nature/ecology; religion and (sustainable) agriculture/food; climate change; animal ethics; environmental ethics; critical race theory; environmental justice; sustainability and resilience

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to a Special Issue with the theme of Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis, where this crisis is understood to be biogeochemical, especially in geological time frames, but also political, economic, technological, ethical, and therefore, biocultural.  This opens up the need for humanities scholars to rapidly address rapid global heating in their research and teaching, and thus, the requirement for the field of religious studies/theology to rapidly do the same.

No religious production has ever happened on a planet with 420+ ppm CO2, such that rapid climate change is the evolutionary and biogeochemical carrier within which all future religious production will by definition occur (LeVasseur 2021a).  Therefore, this Special Issue aims to look at how theology may be responding to imminent climate regime shifts; how the sociology of religion may inform readers on how human groups are (or are not) using religion to organize around climate change; to investigate how religious actors are influencing cultural and social discourses around rapid climate change and “dwelling” (Ingold 2022) practices within shifting bioecologies of place (Haberman et al. 2021); how concepts of religious health within religious communities may (or may not) be responding to the negative health impacts of runaway climate change; and how religious ethics may (or may not) be changing to address the normative elements of runaway climate chaos.

Possible themes and article submissions, whether written alone or with co-authors, may address any of the following topics:

  • Offering a 25-year retrospective on David Loy’s 1997 Religion of the Market article, written in the context of rapid global heating events as witnessed in 2022 across Europe, China, Pakistan, and the US;
  • Analyzing the April, 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change both as a dark green religious text (Taylor 2009); and/or the implications of the report, for future religious production, including especially its recognition of the role of colonialism in creating the climate crisis;
  • Reflecting on the failure, to date, of religious studies to engage seriously with the more-than-human world outside of a few subgroups within the field (LeVasseur 2021a, 2021b) and the normative implications of what climate change and possible collapse may mean to the teaching of religion (LeVasseur 2021c), and to questions of being human, broadly (Wirzba 2021);
  • Conducting biographies of climate change activists, to explore the religio-affective-ethical reasons for such activism (Witt 2016), including in multispecies and posthuman material spaces (Bray, Eaton et al. 2023; LeVasseur 2021a; Bird Rose et al. 2017) and with a focus on minoritized (Harris 2017) and Global South (Spivak 1988) activist voices;
  • Analyzing the role energy has and will continue to play in the formation of religion (LeVasseur 2021a; Berry 2022; Jones 2016), as well as geoengineering responses to energy/climate issues (Clingerman 2014);
  • Theorizing, or generating ethnographic or textual data, on how rapid climate changes are influencing apocalyptic imaginings (Globus Veldman 2012; Keller 2021);
  • Using an adaptive resilience lens (Sundstrom and Allen 2019) to see how religion may function as an adaptive or maladaptive presence (Rappaport 1999; Lansing 2007) at ecosystem-levels, especially within future climate regimes that will be much hotter and drier than those that existed in the now-past Holocene. 

I  look forward to receiving your contributions.

References

Berry, Evan, ed. 2022. Climate Politics and the Power of Religion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Bird Rose, Deborah et al. 2017. Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bray, Karen, Heather Eaton et al. 2023. Earthly Things: Immanence, New Materialisms, and Planetary Thinking.  New York: Fordham University Press.

Clingerman, Forrest. 2014. “Geoengineering, Theology, and the Meaning of Being Human.” Zygon. 49.1: 6-21.

Globus Veldman, Robin. 2012. “Narrating the Environmental Apocalypse: How Imagining the End Facilitates Moral Reasoning Among Environmental Activists.” Ethics & the Environment 17.1: 1-23. 

Haberman, David, ed. 2021. Understanding Climate Change Through Religious Lifeworlds. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.

Harris, Melanie, ed. 2017. Ecowomanism, Religion and Ecology. Leiden: BRILL.

Ingold, Tim. 2022. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. New York: Routledge.

Jones, Christopher. 2016. “Petromyopia: Oil and the Energy Humanities.” Humanities 5.36.

Keller, Catherine. 2021. Facing Apocalypse: Climate, Democracy, and Other Last Chances. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

Lansing, Stephen. 2007. Priests and Programmers: Technologies of Power in the Engineered Landscape of Bali. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

LeVasseur, Todd. 2021a. Climate Change, Religion, and our Bodily Future. New York: Lexington Books.

LeVasseur, Todd. 2021b. https://religiondispatches.org/dispatches-from-the-rhodian-shore-a-tough-love-letter-to-religious-studies/.

LeVasseur, Todd. 2021c. “Activism, Religious Studies, and Embodied Teaching.” Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 25.1: 1-16.

Loy, David. 1997. “The Religion of the Market.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65.2: 275-290.

Rappaport, Roy. 1999. Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1998. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, eds. Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. London: Macmillan: 24-28.

Sundstrom, Shana and Craig Allen. 2019. “The Adaptive Cycle: More Than a Metaphor.” Ecological Complexity 39. 

Taylor, Bron. 2009. Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wirzba, Norman. 2021. This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Witt, Joseph. 2016. Religion and Resistance in Appalachia: Faith and the Fight Against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

Sincerely,

Dr. Todd Jared LeVasseur
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • climate change
  • activism
  • collapse
  • religion
  • ethics
  • resilience
  • adaptation
  • global warming
  • theology

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Other

11 pages, 245 KiB  
Article
Studying Rome While It Burns
by Richard M. Carp
Religions 2024, 15(4), 501; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040501 - 19 Apr 2024
Viewed by 638
Abstract
The call for papers for this Special Issue Iidentifies contemporary humanity as experiencing a global “biogeochemical … political, economic, technological, ethical, and therefore, biocultural” crisis and asks scholars to consider how “religion may function as an adaptive or maladaptive presence” in response. Unasked [...] Read more.
The call for papers for this Special Issue Iidentifies contemporary humanity as experiencing a global “biogeochemical … political, economic, technological, ethical, and therefore, biocultural” crisis and asks scholars to consider how “religion may function as an adaptive or maladaptive presence” in response. Unasked is the adaptive capacity of scholarship as a crisis response. When buildings fall in earthquakes, or cities burn in wildfires, or second stories flood, few people just keep on doing what they were doing, “with a change of focus”. This is “studying Rome while it burns”. It’s time to put out the fire if we can and survive it if we cannot. We scholar/teachers can’t go on doing the same things and expecting different results. Unprecedented circumstances call for unprecedented actions in response. What would actual crisis responses on our part look like? What steps do we need to take as human beings in response to this crisis? How will that affect us as professionals? Seeking an ecology, rather than unanimity, of action and thought, and guided by Brian Walker’s resilience theory and a number of Indigenous scholars, I suggest a process of reintegration, analogous to regenerative agriculture, which is at once both socio-cultural and ecological. This process, necessarily rooted in place, progressively situates us experientially in a dynamic, creative, and relational world characterized by connection, collaboration, and relation. As scholars, we will find forms of discovery, discussion, and dissemination that share these qualities. As teachers, we will model this world to our students and embody it in our classrooms and curricula. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
13 pages, 249 KiB  
Article
Qualified Hope and the Ethics of Planetary Boundaries
by Forrest Clingerman
Religions 2024, 15(4), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040390 - 24 Mar 2024
Viewed by 792
Abstract
The present essay explores the way theologies can contribute to the discussion of the ethics of the “planetary boundaries” framework and its rhetorical proposal for a ‘safe operating space’. I first give a brief description of the ‘planetary boundaries’ framework proposed by Johan [...] Read more.
The present essay explores the way theologies can contribute to the discussion of the ethics of the “planetary boundaries” framework and its rhetorical proposal for a ‘safe operating space’. I first give a brief description of the ‘planetary boundaries’ framework proposed by Johan Rockström and others. The idea of a ‘safe operating space’ is not simply a neutral scientific assessment, but more importantly, a narrative framework that weaves stability, risk, and uncertainty together. This narrative needs both the humanities and the sciences to be understood. Second, I propose how theological reflection can contribute to the discussion through its interpretation of the rhetorical and ethical facets of the ‘planetary boundaries’ proposal. Specifically, a Christian theological lens is able to develop a model of a qualified sense of hope, which can be leveraged as a bridge between the dire warnings and uncertainty of the science of ‘planetary boundaries’, on one hand, and the call for transformation and action that researchers make on the other. Finally, I provide some recent examples of this theologically-inspired ‘qualified hope’ in the face of environmental change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
12 pages, 393 KiB  
Article
Mystic Christianity and Cosmic Integration: On a Pilgrim Trail with John Moriarty
by Mairéad Nic Craith, Ullrich Kockel, Mary McGillicuddy and Amanda Carmody
Religions 2024, 15(3), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030307 - 29 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1787
Abstract
This essay takes initial steps on a journey with an Irish eco-spiritual philosopher, the late John Moriarty. As a gateway into his broader oeuvre and way of thinking, we explore Moriarty’s image of the Christian mystical Easter journey—the Triduum Sacrum—as a vision for [...] Read more.
This essay takes initial steps on a journey with an Irish eco-spiritual philosopher, the late John Moriarty. As a gateway into his broader oeuvre and way of thinking, we explore Moriarty’s image of the Christian mystical Easter journey—the Triduum Sacrum—as a vision for humanity and the planet. After briefly reviewing his spiritual biography, we consider Moriarty’s re-framing of the story as a journey to the bottom of a symbolic Grand Canyon, a mystical trail beyond historical time to a primordial unity before the evolution of the species. There, the total integration of the natural ecumene is experienced. For Moriarty, this journey leads not only into the past, but prefigures a pilgrimage that everyone can—and should—take. Analyzing primarily his own writing, we highlight the intercultural roots and ecumenical connections of Moriarty’s work, which draws extensively on spiritual traditions and contemporary debates from across the world. On that basis, we sign-post directions for further research into a potential post-Christian ecology as a new way of thinking about the earth and our role on it, based on an attitude of Gelassenheit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
23 pages, 344 KiB  
Article
Living Well Together in a Climate-Changed Future: Religious Imaginaries on the Cutting Edge of Genetic Technology
by Lisa H. Sideris
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1426; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111426 - 15 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1522
Abstract
This essay focuses on the emotional and relational investments of scientists and others engaged in and supportive of genetic technologies used in conservation efforts, with particular attention to the different moral and religious imaginaries that fuel endeavors to save species threatened by climate [...] Read more.
This essay focuses on the emotional and relational investments of scientists and others engaged in and supportive of genetic technologies used in conservation efforts, with particular attention to the different moral and religious imaginaries that fuel endeavors to save species threatened by climate change and extinction. I argue that two distinct visions and competing religious repertoires can be discerned in the secular landscape of genetic technologies deployed in coral restoration and de-extinction. Each endeavor brings forth its own forms of magic, myth- and meaning-making. At the heart of coral protection is the symbol of the holobiont, suggestive of cooperative endeavors, collective labor, networking, and distributed and embodied knowledge. Central to de-extinction imaginaries are motifs of individual competition, machine metaphors, “selfish” genetic components, and a spirit of entrepreneurial excitement and profiteering. The essay contrasts these two visions as competing accounts of relationality—or the lack thereof—and asks which religious and moral imaginaries we should embrace as we move into an era marked by intensified technological intervention and high-risk efforts to address the effects of climate change. I suggest that the values that drive de-extinction technologies are largely at odds with environmental and social goals of living well together, as humans and more-than-humans, in a present and future world transformed by climate change and species death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
14 pages, 1151 KiB  
Article
The Far Right Culture War on ESG
by Chris Crews
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1257; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101257 - 4 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1491
Abstract
This article examines connections between religious nationalism, extremist movements, and environmental politics, with a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks and debates in the United States since 2020. It begins with a brief history of ESG, then examines responses from mainstream [...] Read more.
This article examines connections between religious nationalism, extremist movements, and environmental politics, with a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks and debates in the United States since 2020. It begins with a brief history of ESG, then examines responses from mainstream conservatives and far-right groups to the growth of ESG. It argues that the current backlash against the use of ESG is part of a larger conservative culture war against “woke” politics. The article offers a detailed look at the role of the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action and its “ESG Hurts” campaign, and shows how climate denial, conspiracy theories, and hostility to race and gender politics are interconnected parts of a growing ideological movement rooted in Christian Nationalism and climate denial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
Show Figures

Figure 1

12 pages, 231 KiB  
Article
Teaching against the “False Religion” of the Market: Toward Explicitly Anticapitalist Teaching and Research in Religion and the Environment
by Laura M. Hartman and Kevin J. O’Brien
Religions 2023, 14(8), 975; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14080975 - 28 Jul 2023
Viewed by 777
Abstract
David Loy’s 1997 essay, “The Religion of the Market,” should be a foundational text for all who study and teach the intersection of religion and the environment. In contrast to the more field-defining essay by Lynn White, Loy focuses on the structural and [...] Read more.
David Loy’s 1997 essay, “The Religion of the Market,” should be a foundational text for all who study and teach the intersection of religion and the environment. In contrast to the more field-defining essay by Lynn White, Loy focuses on the structural and economic roots of environmental degradation and calls for scholars and practitioners to actively oppose the global capitalist systems causing the problem. When brought into conversation with other anticapitalist scholarship, Loy’s essay offers ways to characterize existing debates about economics within our field, and can be used to argue against hegemonic capitalocentrism to set the stage for other kinds of resistance in our teaching and scholarship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
13 pages, 828 KiB  
Article
Dialogue between Confucianism and Holmes Rolston, III—Its Significance for Theology in the Planetary Climate Crisis
by Haoran Zhang
Religions 2023, 14(7), 872; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070872 - 4 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1064
Abstract
Holmes Rolston, III examined the significance of Asian thought for Western evaluations of nature and questioned if Asian Romanticism can inform the realistic decision making required for practice. However, Rolston’s general evaluation of Asian thought ignored Confucianism. This study launches a dialogue between [...] Read more.
Holmes Rolston, III examined the significance of Asian thought for Western evaluations of nature and questioned if Asian Romanticism can inform the realistic decision making required for practice. However, Rolston’s general evaluation of Asian thought ignored Confucianism. This study launches a dialogue between Rolston and contemporary Confucianism on environmental philosophy and highlights the following points in response to Rolston: First, Confucianism is grounded on an “anthropocosmic” worldview and bases its environmental ethics on its affirmation of the “virtue of life and growth” and the related vision of “unity of heaven and human beings”; it is thus an objective environmental virtue ethics with the characteristics of sacred humanism that avoids anthropocentrism. Second, Confucian ethics is built on the premise of “one principle with various manifestations” and advocates for practicing benevolence through “love with gradations”, which avoids an excessively idealistic ecocentrism. Furthermore, Confucianism may adopt Rolston’s recommendation for Asian thought concerning the incorporation of evolutionary biology into Asian traditions to facilitate their own transformation and thus contribute to environmental philosophy. Upon an exploration of the compatibility and possible reciprocal illumination between Confucianism and Rolston, this paper points out the implications of the above dialogue for theology in the planetary climate crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)

Other

Jump to: Research

12 pages, 277 KiB  
Essay
A Commentary on Thomas Berry’s Befriending the Earth, 33 Years on
by Alastair McIntosh
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1345; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111345 - 24 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1370
Abstract
The author was approached by the Passionists in the United Kingdom, a Roman Catholic order in which the ecological theologian Thomas Berry had been a priest, to seek an opinion on the continuing significance of his book, Befriending the Earth. Published in [...] Read more.
The author was approached by the Passionists in the United Kingdom, a Roman Catholic order in which the ecological theologian Thomas Berry had been a priest, to seek an opinion on the continuing significance of his book, Befriending the Earth. Published in 1991, it was written in dialogue with a Jesuit colleague, Thomas Clarke. This article shares that opinion with a wider readership. Parts of it are written in a first-person manner, illustratively journeying on from where Berry left off. Thirty-three years (counted inclusively) is a generous generational span; symbolically, it is equivalent to the life of Christ, a kairos time of transition. Most notably, what has changed over that period is that climate change has landed firmly onto the environmental agenda. Significantly, Berry hardly mentioned it in this work, but in an era of Laudato Si his message of “befriending the Earth” speaks louder than ever, with prophetic poignancy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Planetary Climate Crisis)
Back to TopTop