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Broken Bodies of God: The Christian Eucharist as a Locus for Ecological Reflection

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report attests to the reality of a warming global climate and describes potential ecosystem changes that may be devastating to communities—both human and non-human—across the globe. I contend that the Christian practice of sharing the Eucharist meal provides an opportune moment for Christians to engage in ecological reflection. To defend this claim I draw upon Christian theologian Sallie McFague's metaphorical understanding of the world as God's body in order to connect environmental plight to the Eucharist meal and to show why that plight should be a concern for Christian communities. Next, I turn to the work of anthropologist Claude Fischler in order to make a connection between sharing the Eucharist and communal and individual identity formation. Finally, I draw upon the Slow Food movement in order to provide specific suggestions for adapting the Eucharist to make it more conducive to ecological reflection. I also briefly discuss the growing green sisters movement and suggest that this movement provides a model of ecological-awareness and practice for other religious communities, and for North American Christian churches in particular.

Affiliations: 1: Vanderbilt University, Graduate Department of Religion, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society


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