Monday, April 21, 2008

A Watershed Moment?

The Sunday New York Times Magazine was the "green" issue, packed with reading. This was in the "Live" article on lifestyles friendly to Creation:

'For years, Rabbi Julian Sinclair led a double life. He kept his two identities — as a yeshiva-trained Jewish scholar and a self-described economist and policy wonk schooled at Oxford and Harvard — apart. But the increasing portents of climate change convinced Sinclair that a religious response to what he calls “the biggest big-picture policy challenge we face today” is precisely what the world needs now. “The environmental movement has been overwhelmingly secular for 40 years and has achieved amazing things,” he says, “but it hasn’t yet figured out how to move people on a massive scale because it isn’t telling the right story.’ Sinclair says he believes that the “doom-laden apocalyptic narrative” favored by the mainstream environmental movement can paralyze rather than motivate necessary lifestyle adjustments. Conversely, he says religion — which has been “in the behavioral-change business for 3,000 years” — offers a distinct message of hope and boasts an impressive track record of moral persuasion: “There have been watershed moments when religion has barged into public life, blown away the windbaggery of politics-as-usual and declared with irresistible force, ‘This must change now!’ ” Following the lead of the popular “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign from the Evangelical Environmental Network and Jewish sustainability organizations like Hazon (“Vision”), Sinclair helped found the Jewish Climate Initiative. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “The Green God,” in which he consults the world’s spiritual traditions for teachings about how humans can confront climate change. Regarding his own religion, Sinclair says Judaism regularly expresses spirituality through “mundane deeds that awaken deeper consciousness.” “If going to the bathroom can be a religiously meaningful act (there’s a blessing said after doing so), then switching to C.F.L. light bulbs can be, too,” he says. Still, the economist in him urges first things first: “Shifts in consciousness can take decades that we don’t have. Trade in the S.U.V. — then let’s talk about the sacredness of the earth.”'

And after reading this, I was taken out for a ride in a Dodge Viper convertible - not the most fuel-efficient car on the road...But I love the line that religion has been in the behavioural-change business for 3000 years.

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