Getting to Know Eco-Spirituality
When I tell people about EdenKeeper they are often surprised that someone is trying to make a spiritual connection to the environment. “Christians aren’t really environmental,” they say, or “Do you mean like worshipping Mother Earth?” If I use the word “religion” instead of “spiritual” when explaining Eden Keeper, that opens the door to a whole avalanche of questions about my views on gay marriage and abortion.
The point of EdenKeeper really is quite simple. It’s merely to show people that environmentalism isn’t just a political issue, or an impediment to progress, or even a choice to buy the new, “greener” plastic water bottle. We can be environmental merely by appreciating the wonderful benefits of nature. We just need to connect our spirits to the environment.
Eco-spirituality isn’t a new concept. There are many organizations out there already making the connection between the spirit and the environment. For example, Matthew Sleeth, an ER doctor and chief of staff at a New England hospital, left his career to start Blessed Earth. Blessed Earth is an educational nonprofit that inspires people of faith to become better stewards of the earth. Sleeth also helped write The Green Bible – a wonderful resource for finding environmentally-focused scriptures.
Interfaith Power & Light was formed to respond to the threat of climate change. IPL has over a decade of experience helping congregations address global warming by being better stewards of energy. It also brings the voice of the faith community into the policy-making area. Recently, IPL commented on proposed EPA rules to regulate carbon pollution.
Founded in 1993, the Evangelical Environmental Network is one of the oldest faith-based groups dedicated to the care of God’s creation. According to the Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation:
As followers of Jesus Christ, committed to the full authority of the Scriptures, and aware of the ways we have degraded creation, we believe that biblical faith is essential to the solution of our ecological problems.
There are so many more eco-spiritual groups. The congregation of Ma’van Tikvah in Massachusetts worships in nature. EcoBuddhism focuses on environmentalism from a Buddhist perspective. Green Faith promotes religious-environmental leadership. And Green Muslims helps create a connection between Islam and environmentalism.
Why don’t more environmentalists know about these groups? Why isn’t eco-spirituality more well known and accepted?
I think more secular environmentalists don’t hear about the wonderful things these groups are doing because right-wing, conservative religious voices are more vocal. As environmentalists, I think it’s important to open up our hearts and minds to eco-spirituality. It’s essential to remember that the environment isn’t just an issue for democrats. In fact, it’s really not a political issue at all. It’s a moral responsibility — and ethical duty — that we all share.
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