Eco-Activist Links Environmental Work and Spiritual Values - TIME
Environmentalism began as a religion. Certainly that's how paleo-greens like John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, would have seen it. Muir was awakened to nature when he first explored Yosemite in the 1860s, and he felt it in a religious way — he called what would become one of the nation's first national parks "the grandest of all special temples of Nature."
Wangari Maathai, for one, would like to change that. The Kenyan activist won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 — making her the first environmentalist to earn the award — for her work with the Green Belt Movement, a nonprofit that focuses on planting trees, conserving the environment and fighting for women's rights. Now Maathai has a new book called Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World, and she's preaching a green gospel. To Maathai, environmental work needs to be linked to spiritual values — and spiritual values should drive us to care about the environmentalism, contributing to what's called in Judaism tikkun olam, the healing of the world.
..."The environment becomes sacred, because to destroy what is essential to life is to destroy life itself."
That's a religion that John Muir would recognize — and one we shouldn't surrender.