"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christianity and Ecological Responsibility

With rumors flying that the next papal utterance to which we are to be treated in encyclical form will cover the controverted and tiresome topic of global warming, it is interesting to note that Eastern Christianity has been addressing ecological concerns for quite some time now. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarch has sometimes been nick-named the "green patriarch" for his frequent discussions of ecological issues. At the same time, however, Orthodox theology has not developed as far as Catholic theology has when it comes to other social and economic issues. Catholic social teaching goes back well over a century while comparable Orthodox teaching is somewhat more recent on some questions. 

A new collection looks like it will go some way towards helping Orthodox theology further engage with some of the socio-economic and ecological questions of our time: John Chryssavgis and Michele Goldsmith, eds., Sacred Commerce: A Conversation on Environment, Ethics, and Innovation (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2014), 152pp.

About this collection we are told:
In Sacred Commerce distinguished religious leaders, environmentalists, and businessmen share together their respective understandings and assessments concerning the present and future conditions of our planet. Well-known anthropologist Jane Goodall discusses biodiversity. Bill McKibben offers sobering statistics and a call for restraint. James Hansen addresses the present and future effects of climate change. Gary Hirshberg relates by example how a business can be successful and environmentally responsible. Amory Lovins reveals how the energy demand that fuels our businesses can be environmentally responsible. Richard Chartres discusses how we must exchange our economic calling, grow first and clean up later, for a new religious calling, one human race and one whole world. Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon offers insight on where we must go in the future. Sacred Commerce presents the creativity of business, the evidence of science, and the understanding of religion in a united effort for the welfare of not only industrialized countries, but for all human communities and living things now present on earth.

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