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Showing posts from March, 2012

Religion and Conservation Biology

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In July 2007 I initiated the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology http://www.conbio.org/workinggroups/Religion/. Because of this, I'm sometimes asked to prepare comments addressing the intersection of religion and environmental work.The following was prepared for Volume I of the Encyclopedia of Sustainability. The reference for this note appears at the end of this short comment.
Conservation Biology is an integrated, interdisciplinary response to the world biodiversity crisis. This relatively new field draws from a wide range of scientific disciplines in order to document the extent of Earth’s biodiversity, the impact of the human project on that biodiversity, and to formulate and apply approaches to conserve and restore that biodiversity.
Religion matters to this discipline because conservation of habitat and biodiversity takes place in a social and cultural context. Religion is frequently a major component of that context. Religio…

The Spirit of the Thing II

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(Continued from the preceding post.)
What calls us here today?Why do we gather?What connections do we seek?

To learn about plants?Yes. To meet others interested in plants? Yes, that also.
But maybe something else?Something more enveloping and inclusive…a more basic connection?
I think it may be the spirit of the thing.
What does it mean to speak of the spirit of something?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines spirit as a life-giving force…an animating principle…the essential or real meaning of something. In other words ‘spirit’ is the essence of something.
It is the spirit of the thing, the essential or real meaning of our connection with life that draws us here today.
When Charles Darwin encountered his first tropical forest near Rio de Janerio in 1832 he spoke of experiencing, and I’m quoting him,“…wonder, astonishment and sublime devotion…” Darwin sensed the spirit of those wonderful green mansions in which he stood. The destruction of those green mansions has been compared by Darwin t…