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The Varieties of Ecological Piety

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

The idea of nature's sacrality, contrasting starkly with industrial modernity's overwhelmingly instrumental valuation of non-human nature, visibly inform philosophical positions such as deep ecology and Gaia theory. But at a more unspoken level they can also be seen as suffusing a wider societal sensibility, evident not least in popular values regarding nature. But, granted that many people would ascribe such a value to nature, how are such beliefs embodied in their lives? An attention to the theological or cosmological level can only take us so far in understanding the dynamics of culture; we need also to attend to questions of practice, ritual, community and relationship, for it is through such elements that more abstract ideas about humanity's place in the universe are given both support and expression. It is in this spirit of inquiry that this paper proceeds, arguing that religious forms of action and corporateness characteristic of monastic, sectarian, churchly, and folk religiosity have shaped the way that contemporary environmental values are embodied in the practices and experience of everyday life.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for the Study of Environmental Change Lancaster University, UK


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