Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment: A Campaign to Raise Awareness of the Environment and Discover Common Ground in the Judeo-Christian and Buddhist Communities

Sunday, May 07, 2006

After thought

After writing our paper, Jessie asked if I would write an epilogue to add at the end. I sat down and thought about how this porject has affected our lives and what has been gained from this valuable experience. Below is the actual epulogue written and I know that this is only the beginning of study in this area:

When first approaching this project, we had vast knowledge about the Christian and Jewish faiths, minimal about Buddhism, but none about the incorporation of the environment. After spending a semester exploring texts, speaking with religious leaders, and getting hands on experience at locations such as the Garrison Institute, we can say that we have grown academically and spiritually from this assignment. Without even realizing, these religions rely heavily on the incorporation of nature to enhance the teachings and philosophies. Anywhere we visit, travel to, or dwell is surrounded by nature. From the smallest blade of grass on a lawn to the grand mountain ranges, our interaction with these objects holds the possibility to change our lives. Within these religions, a person can find a way to connect a theory to their surroundings and find some aspect of significance.

Religion is an interesting concept because while it might dictate certain laws regarding the way we dress and the behaviors we use, it primarily resides as a mindset that applies principles taught to become more knowledgeable and feel greater spiritual connection. When applying the lessons and morals learned from the sacred texts, we then enact our religious histories and become a part of it. In all of these religions, respect is a key concept utilized when interacting with nature. We are supposed to honor the creations of the Lord, and also respect the world around us because if we do not treat it well, then we are not treating ourselves well.

It can be difficult to feel that same connection when living in an urban location such as New York City. With minimal greenery, polluted streets, and an insensitive mentality possessed by much of society, it can become discouraging to find that spiritual connection. Luckily, there are places such as the Garrison Institute and other organizations that believe if you cannot have nature, bring nature to the individual. Our visit to the Garrison Institute became the inspirational moment when our research became internalized and applicable. Leaving the crowded and congested city for the spacious and beautiful countryside allowed us to understand the exquisiteness of creation and the need to protect it.

Usually a final paper signifies the conclusion of a semester long project. But in this case, we have only begun our assignment. We will continue to work with the Garrison Institute to attend lectures and hopefully become featured speakers. With their guidance, the lengthiest part of the project will be accomplished little by little; becoming well versed in the religious connection to nature. There is never an end to this part and we look forward to our continuous stewardship and someday leadership in this area.

This might be the final page of this paper, but it is just the end of the first chapter of our new undertaking.

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