Climate, Spirituality, & Faith
For millennia humans have sought, through spirituality and religion, to answer questions about the place of our species within the universe; the purpose of individual existence; the relationship of individuals to the broader group; and the right way to live in the world in the face of pain, suffering, and confusion.
All of these themes are relevant to current situation we humans face with climate disruption. So it is not surprising that many who are struggling with climate anxiety, depression, and grief, turn to spiritual and religious teachings to help understand, make meaning of, and find guidance around the experience of living on a damaged planet.
This scene from the film First Reformed illustrates one aspect of this struggle to make sense of the ecological crisis:
While First Reformed explores these themes through a Christian lens, ecological- and climate-related themes can be, and have been, explored by people of many different faiths. Considering the scope of the challenge, we may need the accumulated wisdom, leadership, and community of many religious and spiritual teachings if we are to to find a way forward (while hopefully leaving behind those perspectives and viewpoints that stand in the way of compassion and justice).
Various religious writers and teachers, as well as psychologists and journalists, have written about the climate change in relation to spirituality and faith. Some write specifically from a religious perspective; others use themes, such as mindfulness, that are rooted in spiritual traditions but have been integrated into secular fields, like psychology. We seek, here, to provide a few examples of this discourse, from a range of spiritual perspectives.
Whether you follow a particular faith, are non-religious, or are an atheist, we encourage you to explore the ways in which various teachings have approached the issue of climate change (for the record, Climate & Mind does not endorse a particular spiritual or religious perspective).
One place to start is Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology. Among other resources, they provide a list of Climate Change Statements from a range of world religions. In addition, here is a short selection of resources by writers, psychologists, activists, and spiritual teachers, from a range of faiths and spiritual perspectives, on themes relevant to Climate & Mind:
(listed in alphabetical order by author)
Confino, Jo. (2013) “Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh: only love can save us from climate change.” The Guardian. Jan 21, 2013.
Davenport, Leslie (2019). “As a Psychotherapist Treating Eco-Anxiety and Eco-Grief, Mindfulness Helps. Sometimes.” Medium, July 26, 2019.
Hanh, T. N., Stanley, J., Loy, D., Tucker, M. E., Grim, J., Berry, W., ... & Macy, J. (2013). Spiritual ecology: The cry of the earth. The Golden Sufi Center.
Ingram, Catherine (2019). “Facing Extinction.” Catherineingram.com. March 4, 2019.
Macy, J., & Johnstone, C. (2012). Active hope: How to face the mess we're in without going crazy.
Hannah Malcolm has put together an “Ecology for your Theology Bookshelf” - a list of “Eco theology/Environment and Christianity reading recommendations.”
McDuff, M. (2012). Sacred acts: how churches are working to protect earth's climate. New Society Publishers.
One Earth Sangha (organization)
“One Earth Sangha brings the essential wisdom and practices from the Buddhist tradition to collective engagement on critical ecological crises. We assert that activism is more effective and sustainable when grounded in mindfulness and compassion and that social engagement is an essential part of the spiritual path. We bring these two forces, and their corresponding communities, together through teachings, community building and mindful action.”
Pope Francis (2015). “Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home.
Thanissara (2015). Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
Vaughn Lee, Llewellyn.
White-Hammond, Mariama (2018). “Climate Change and Community: An Interview with Reverend Mariama White-Hammond.” ClimateX Team, October 22, 2018.
We are actively looking to expand this list.
If you have recommendations for resources, please contact us at:
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