Reading Nature Religiously

Blogging the environmental humanities


“As Ojibwe women, we’re responsible for the water. It’s our responsibility to care for the water, to pray for the water, to sing for the water, to gather the water and then lift those petitions up to the spirits and especially to the water spirits.”

— Sharon Day


Green Pedestrian Crossing created by Jody Xiong

The China Environmental Protection Foundation developed an outdoor campaign, displayed on the street, to creatively promote this message. They decided to leverage a busy pedestrian crossing; a place where both pedestrians and drivers meet.

The campaign involved laying a canvas 12.6 metres long by 7 metres wide on the ground, thus covering the pedestrian crossing with a large leafless tree. On either side of the road, beneath the traffic lights, were placed sponge cushions soaked in green, environmentally friendly, washable paint. As pedestrians walked towards the crossing, they stepped on the green sponge, thus leaving green foot imprints on the canvas of the tree. Each ‘green’ footprint on the canvas looked like leaves growing on a bare tree, which made people feel that by walking they could create a greener environment.

The ‘Green Pedestrian Crossing’ was carried out across 7 thoroughfares in Shanghai. The campaign was then extended to 132 roads across 15 cities in China, with a participation exceeding 3,920,000 people.

Watch their video below:

Beautiful. Inspired. Inspiring.

Go for a walk!

(via treeporn)


If it be Your willIf there is a choiceLet the rivers fillLet the hills rejoice…
~ Leonard Cohen


If it be Your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice…

~ Leonard Cohen

Religion: another definition

"Baber," commenting yesterday to a blog post at Religion Dispatches regarding the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, wrote:

Religion is what you do in church.

His/her definition was an aspirational and pragmatic one. Aspirational in that it was a plea for how we might choose to define religion and pragmatic in that, if I understand his/her intent, the purpose of such a narrow circumscribing of “religion” is to clarify the appropriate bounds of political debates about freedom of religion.

I’m suggesting that we adopt a narrow definition of religion as cult, as churchiness, not as ethics or “values.” And understood in that way we can make the cut between acceptable appeals to freedom of religion and those that are unacceptable, like the claim of conservative religious groups that the provision of contraceptives, or gay marriage, or whatever violates their religious freedom.

"Websterglobe" replied:

If your religion is only what you do in church, you have no conception of what religion means and your religion is a complete waste of time.

I am mindful of a definition of religion I shared earlier, from Christopher Queen. Queen wrote of “orientation, meaning, and motivation as ultimate frames of reference,” of “understand[ing] our place in society and the natural world,” and of “shap[ing] the personal, social, and political realms.”

I think Queen would side with Websterglobe.

But I think Baber and Websterglobe, because they have different projects, are talking about different things.

"Religion" is not something "out there" that we can objectively define. Our definitions are tied to the particular project at hand.

I’m aware I’ve yet to define my project here. And my definition of religion for that purpose.

Joyful encounter! (Source unknown, unfortunately. Feel free to enlighten me, so that I can give due credit.)

Joyful encounter! (Source unknown, unfortunately. Feel free to enlighten me, so that I can give due credit.)

AAR Religion and Ecology Group

Re the Religion and Ecology Group of the American Academy of Religion:

This Group critically and constructively explores how human-Earth relations are shaped by religions, cultures, and understandings of nature and the environment. We are self-consciously inter- and multidisciplinary and include methods such as those found in the work of theologians, philosophers, religionists, ethicists, scientists, and anthropologists, among others.