Climate science is universal. It remains an undeniable and immediate issue while our individual faith traditions differ. If climate change requires religious guidance to incite moral action, how do we determine a positive path to climate solution in a pluralist society? Whether you refer to our current state as pluralistic or interfaith, the reality is that we exist in a beautiful tapestry of religious traditions, all of which have something to offer in discovering climate solutions.
The move toward interfaith work does not, as some might argue, imply an abandonment of personal praxis, ritual, or theology. On the contrary, it does quite the opposite. Musing on the ethics of Jenkins, Kyle Roberts argues:
"...in a global, pluralist society, we’re better off not trying to deny or minimize the reality of that plurality, but that we should instead utilize that plurality towards trying to constructively solve our problems. So we can look for points of agreement, places where our respective moral, religious, and theological circles might overlap, and we can try to capitalize on those places."
Interfaith work celebrates the individual traditions of any given religion while simultaneously finding connectivity between all of them. For example, Pope Francis' Encyclical is a Catholic document, an undeniable fact. And yet, it speaks to the issues that many people of faith and people without faith agree on: caring for our common home.
Interfaith climate work is not about compromising your tradition or belief system; it's about amplifying its voice in the moral discussion in which all humans are invested. As Kyle Roberts proclaims, we need 'all moral hands on deck.'
Despite the many who still deny the reality of climate change and who undermine the seriousness of the threat to our future, the news is spreading: We are at a very precarious moment in our ecological life.
From the standpoint of Ethics (Christian and otherwise), the question emerges: What is required to address the many and serious problems that confront us in this global, pluralistic world–but a world in which we all have a stake in our ecological health and well-being?
Do we need to develop a universally shared moral foundation? A new shared, moral language? Would it work best for all of us to come together and set aside our religious distinctness, our theological languages, and our particular moral frameworks and adopt a secular framework? Or perhaps one grounded on the most common moral denominators?
Willis Jenkins, in The Future of Ethics, argues that the best approach is not to try to attain a universal moral foundation for creation care. Instead, we need to take a pragmatic approach–one which addresses the particular problems first and worries about theoretical aspects later.
He suggests, wisely in my view, that in a global, pluralist society, we’re better off not trying to deny or minimize the reality of that plurality, but that we should instead utilize that plurality towards trying to constructively solve our problems. So we can look for points of agreement, places where our respective moral, religious, and theological circles might overlap and we can try to capitalize on those places.
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