01: The fall issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is devoted to religion and ecology.
The issue looks at the whole spectrum of world religions and how they (through their teachings as well as practices) relate to environmental concerns. The opening article by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim sees an emerging alliance developing among the world religions over creating a “sustainable future,” citing ecumenical and papal statements as well as documents coming from interfaith gatherings. The stress throughout the issue is on building a consensus among the different religions on environmental issues and there is not much discussion of the religious divisions and differences emerging from religious involvement in the movement (such as between conservatives and liberals over different concepts of God’s relation to nature).
An interesting concluding chapter discusses how Confucian thought is being reworked to include ecological concern. This new “Confucian Humanism” seeks harmony between “heaven, earth and humans” that leads to treating “all living beings with respect and consideration,” writes Tu Weiming.
This issue costs $9.95 and is available from: Daedalus, 136 Irving St., Suite 100, Cambridge, MA 02138-9655.
02: Church on Sunday, Work on Monday (Jossey-Bass, $23.95), by Laura Nash and Scotty McLennon, looks at the popular spirituality in work movement as well as the impasse between churches and business people.
The book, based on in-depth interviews of business people and clergy, holds that the new spirituality in business programs (where meditation and other spiritual practices are incorporated into generic and 12-step spiritual teachings) are popular and successful because traditional churches have failed in ministering to laypeople in the corporate world. Nash’s and McLennon’s research finds that clergy and churches tend to depict business and capitalism as a negative force to be fought or they just ignore members’ work contexts and focus on relationships.
The authors provide a valuable overview of spirituality in work teachings and authors (listing them in the back of the book), noting that these programs are largely effective in providing a spiritual element in the midst of a competitive and materialistic environment, even if they lack the depth of traditional religions.