In a provocative 1997 article for the journal Nature, Robert Costanza and 12 colleagues calculated that the Earth’s ecological systems and natural resources contributed “ecological services” valued at an average of U.S. $33 trillion per year. The calculations included all renewable ecosystem services but excluded non-renewable resources, such as fuels and minerals. In their valuing of nature, Costanza et al. attempted to be comprehensive, estimating and including values for ecological services that are excluded by market processes but nonetheless provide important beneﬁts. Their estimations of value even included “aesthetic” and “spiritual” services provided by nature. In their article, the Costanza group admitted “there are many conceptual and empirical problems inherent in producing such an estimate” (253). However, they also noted that whenever humans make decisions about ecosystems, we are inevitably making decisions about the value of nature, even if only implicitly. Thus, for Costanza et al., it is important to determine explicitly the monetary value of nature for public policy making, despite the difﬁculties with such ﬁnancial calculations. Most contemporary religions also afﬁrm the importance of valuing nature. Such perspectives from religions could also validate the work of Costanza et al. to ascertain ﬁnancial values for public policy making. Yet, from the perspective of contemporary religions, the assignment of ﬁnancial worth cannot adequately capture the full value of nature. For example, how is it possible to assign a ﬁnancial value for spiritual ecoservices provided by nature? Rather, ﬁnancial valuing of nature would be subsumed under a broader, overarching valuation. In the creation story of Genesis 1 – which is shared as sacred scripture by the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – God follows a pattern of creating, then seeing and judging that what has been created is good. The chapter concludes with God’s ﬁnal evaluation: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Gen. 1:31, NRSV) Thus, from the perspective of the Abrahamic traditions, creation is valued because God has judged it good. Despite this scriptural warrant that nature is to be valued, Christianity – especially the Western Christianity of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism – has been harshly criticized for devaluing nature. Representative of this critical view is the essay, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” by Lynn White, Jr. In this 1967 essay, White acknowledges that, historically, humans have always modiﬁed their environment for their own beneﬁt. While this power was limited in the past, White argues that twentieth-century humans now have the scientiﬁc and technological power radically to transform ecological systems. This profound power appears to be out of control, and “Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt” for the ecological damage incurred, since it has been the dominant cultural paradigm where science and technology have experienced rapid advances. White bases his contention on the foundational assumption that humans’ attitudes toward nature derive from their religious beliefs and perspective. He observes: “What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them . . . that is, by religion” (19). As we have seen, the creation story in Genesis 1 appears to value nature highly. Yet, White observes that this creation story also elevates humans above the rest of creation in a monarchical role, when it claims that humans are created in the image of God.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the ﬁsh of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the Earth” (Gen. 1:26, NRSV).
White claims that this elevation of humanity serves to devalue the rest of creation, thus giving humans an implicit permission to degrade the environment as they please. As White observes, “Christianity . . . not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends” (18). There are some obvious ﬂaws in the harsh critique of Christianity represented by White. For instance, if Western Christianity is the principal factor creating attitudes that devalue nature and lead to its degradation, then logically we would not expect ecological crises to occur in areas informed by other cultural paradigms. Unfortunately, this is not the case and other areas that are not predominantly Christian have also had ecological crises. Despite such ﬂaws in the position represented by White, many Christian thinkers have taken the broad criticism seriously. In his book, The Travail of Nature, Paul Santmire
van der Post, Laurens earned him a knighthood and the honor of Commander of the British Empire. Sir Laurens spent the 1930s writing and farming in England and his ﬁrst book, In a Province, was pioneering in its dealing with the tragedy of apartheid. After the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the British Army and served until 1942 in Abyssinia, Syria and Southeast Asia, where he was then captured by the Japanese Army on the island of Java. During the ensuing three and a half years in a prisoner-of-war camp, he was instrumental in organizing extensive educational efforts among his fellow prisoners. The experiences of this camp were described in his two books, The Seed and the Sower (later made into the ﬁlm, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”) and The Night of the New Moon. All told, Sir Laurens wrote more than two dozen novels, along with countless short stories, memoirs and essays dealing with psychology, the nature of prejudice and good and evil, the environment and the importance of story in our lives. One of his many talents was the ability to weave these themes together into one and the same character or work, for example in his telling of the Bushmen stories in ways that illustrate basic human psychology and inspire a love for nature. The best known of his books are The Lost World of the Kalahari and The Heart of the Hunter. He also made numerous ﬁlms for the BBC, including All Africa Within Us and Jung and the Story of our Time. His encounter and ensuing friendship with the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung shortly after his return from the war was decisive and marked the beginning of his striving to understand outer and inner nature, macrocosm and microcosm. He combined Jung’s philosophy with his own that had been formed from his African and Asian jungle experiences, and shared it widely with readers, viewers and friends for the rest of his life.
As a result of talking to Jung about the Africa I had within myself, I was re-conﬁrmed into a new area of the human spirit which had been singularly mine intuitively ever since I was born. Nothing seemed to me more wonderful than the prophetic observation by Sir Thomas Browne, the intuitive alchemist ﬁgure of Norwich in the Elizabethan age: “We seek the wonders without that we carry within – we have all Africa and its wonders within us” (van der Post 1998: 311).
provides one of the most thoughtful treatments of White’s thesis. Santmire argues that there are two competing theological motifs present throughout the historical development of Christian thought. On the one hand, Santmire ﬁnds an ecological motif that grounds a strong stewardship ethic calling upon Christians to care for God’s creation. Yet, on the other hand, Santmire also ﬁnds evidence for a spiritual motif that emphasizes a spiritual salvation in such a manner that the physical environment becomes signiﬁcantly less important. If not properly balanced by the ecological motif, the spiritual motif could indeed justify a boundless exploitation and degradation of the environment as White claims for Western Christianity. Santmire argues that both of these theological motifs are present throughout the historical development of Christianity, and that they may even be simultaneously present in the same theologian or theological concept. Our rather close examination of Western Christianity suggests that there is a diversity of perspectives on the value of nature. Whereas most religions would afﬁrm the importance of the ecological services provided by nature, many religions would assert that the value of nature extends beyond – and subsumes – a mere ﬁnancial accounting. For Christianity, the value of nature occurs because God created and saw that it was good. Yet within Western Christianity, there can be profound disagreement as to what the implications of valuing nature mean for faith and life. Richard O. Randolph Further Reading Costanza, Robert, et al. “The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Service and Natural Capital.” Nature 387 (15 May 1997), 253–60. Santmire, Paul. The Travail of Nature, The Ambiguous Ecological Promise of Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1985. White, Jr., Lynn, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science 155 (1967), 1203–7. Reprinted in Louis P. Pojman, ed., Environmental Ethics, Readings in Theory and Application (2nd edn). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998. See also: Christianity (various); Economics; Environmental Ethics; White, Lynn – Thesis of.
van der Post, Laurens (1906–1996)
Sir Laurens Jan van der Post was born in the Orange Free State of South Africa on 13 December 1906 and he died shortly after his 90th birthday in London. His was a life of travel to the far reaches of the Earth, an Earth he loved and fought hard to preserve: his long and creative life as a soldier, journalist, author, explorer and conservationist
Sir Laurens lived his life with passion, and one of his greatest passions was the preservation of the Earth, our environment. Gifted storyteller that he was, he spent much of his time and energy in the last years of his life telling stories about the creatures of the Earth and pleading that more attention be given to our environment. He freely shared his views with gatherings of people large and small, in interviews and in his books and other writings. In an
in actual practice there is a wide range of attitudes toward the practice of vegetarianism among different Buddhist groups and traditions. 1985. Wilderness Religion. a person who is not whole. there is no revelation . that person changes. all sorts of people who have lost their way in life. including the saving of their lives. It was believed that for lay people the killing of animals brought about negative karmic consequences. and noble feelings and actions are attributed to wild animals such as elephants.” he wrote:
Some of our scientists talk about “managing wilderness” and this worries me a bit. Laurens. See also: Prince Charles. According to these sources Buddhist monks were allowed to eat meat provided it was “pure” by fulﬁlling three requirements: that a monk who is given a meat dish has not heard.). and is a core ethical virtue of Indian religions. The Rock Rabbit and the Rainbow: Laurens van der Post Among Friends. . from a lopsided society. while the sparing of animal lives became a cherished Buddhist ideal. The texts of the monastic code of discipline. Its importance in Buddhism can be seen from the fact that the ﬁrst of the Five Precepts – which deﬁne the ethical foundation of Buddhist life and serve as the basis for other forms of spiritual cultivation – is the injunction not to kill any living creatures. But the moment you try to control it.Vegetarianism and Buddhism interview conducted for Earth Day in 1990. because we have it inside ourselves. or even small creatures that might reside in water used by them. Robert Hinshaw Further Reading van der Post. van der Post. seen. A similar point of view was adopted by the famous Buddhist monarch Asoka (r. Problem children. I’ve never known it to fail. Monks were of course prohibited from killing animals. Zurich: Daimon. Generally speaking. but also speaking widely throughout the world promoting the importance of nature and our environment. . and they often reﬂect the inﬂuence of local cultural practices and social ethoses. ed. . which depict previous lives of the Buddha.” In Robert Hinshaw. killing of animals was regarded as an unwholesome act and was proscribed by Buddhist moral values. While Buddhist texts and leaders often try to discourage the killing of animals. “Introduction: A Word from Laurens van der Post. Asoka himself abandoned hunting and ´ eventually prohibited the killing of animals in order to supply food for the court and the imperial household. Laurens. 1998. In a number of these stories the Buddha is depicted as being reborn in a previous lifetime as an animal. The Wilderness Foundation:
We are trying to conserve the spirit of the conservationist in people . In the Vinaya there is also the story of the Buddha’s refusal to make vegetarianism compulsory for all monks. 47. While monks were absolved from any transgression if they consumed meat that fulﬁlled the three requirements. and love that extend toward all beings. In one of his inscriptions the Emperor states that he has conferred many boons to animals. A Testament to the Wilderness.” In Robert Hinshaw. they’re different (van der Post 1998: 311). ´ who recognized the sanctity of animal lives and instituted ofﬁcial days when animals were not to be killed. We try to give it elaborate deﬁnitions. . or become suspicious that the animal was speciﬁcally killed for him.C. and you bring a person into contact with it.E. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). poof. Einsiedeln: Daimon. indicate that the early monastic order did not adopt a strictly vegetarian diet. The principle of noninjury was shared by Buddhism and other religious traditions in ancient India. Buddhist attitudes toward animals are shaped by the ethical principle of non-injury to others
(ahimsa). It is like saying they want to control revelation. We know it is a world in which every bit of nature counts and is important to us. but we all know what wilderness really is.
Vegetarianism and Buddhism
Buddhist outlooks toward the eating of meat vary by historical periods and traditions. and ﬁsh. ca. a primary goal of an organization he championed.
In his 1985 essay entitled. Asoka’s example was followed by a number of Buddhist ´
. 265–238 B. “Wilderness – A Way of Truth. respect. birds. and we know when it is not there (van der Post 1985: 47). he responded to a question about why it is more important today than ever for people to experience nature and wildlife ﬁrsthand. The positive regard of animals was reinforced by Jataka stories. “Wilderness – A Way of Truth. and by the virtues of compassion. ed. monks were supposed to eat whatever they were offered while practicing detachment from the sensual pleasures associated with eating. ranging from strict adherence to vegetarian diets to conspicuous consumption of meat by the clergy. If you keep the Earth as close to the initial blueprint of creation as you can. in early Buddhism. the Vinaya. once they’ve had this experience. Because for their food they relied on alms received from the faithful.
Sir Laurens spent the ﬁnal decades of his life not only continuing to write both ﬁction and historical pieces. when that was proposed by his evil cousin Devadatta as part of a request to institute a range of new rules initiated by him in order to create schism within the monastic community.
The text also states that the Buddha never permitted the eating of meat. although there are a few monks who are trying to promote the idea of vegetarianism. With the transmission of Mahayana forms of Buddhism to China. vegetarianism became a characteristic feature of Chinese Buddhism. adoption of speciﬁc views about Buddhist values and lifestyles.1692
Vegetarianism and Buddhism tarian diet often abstain from meat eating on certain observance days. including the notion that meat is pure if it fulﬁlls the three requirements. contributes to bad health. Mahayana promoted universalistic ethics that was predicated on the notion that the pursuit of the bodhisattva path is to be undertaken for the sake of beneﬁting all beings. eating of animal ﬂesh is disgusting. although training monasteries. Meat eating became more prevalent from the late nineteenth century onward with the greater emphasis on modernization and the acceptance of Western mores. viz. abstinence became binding for all monks and nuns who received bodhisattva ordinations as part of their entry into the monastic order. diary products. Vegetarianism was given additional canonical legitimacy by the Brahma Net Scripture. and Chinese monks and nuns adopted a strict vegetarian diet that also precluded the consumption of eggs. which contains a series of bodhisattva precepts that became accepted as normative by Chinese Buddhists. and vegetarianism was also adopted by Daoist monastic orders. Although the prohibition against killing and the call to adopt attitudes of kindness toward animals are accepted as normative by the contemporary Theravada traditions. and most butchers are Muslims. were objects of the bodhisattvas’ compassionate regard and selﬂess salviﬁc acts. the widespread meat eating by the clergy is largely explained by the difﬁculty of practicing a vegetarian diet in Tibet’s harsh climate. Mario Poceski
monarchs. The practice of vegetarianism was also transmitted to other areas of Asia that adopted Chinese forms of Buddhism. That was largely motivated by an increased emphasis on compassion as a prime Buddhist virtue. Conversely. In Sri Lanka most Buddhists avoid killing animals (which often does not extend to ﬁsh). creates hindrances to spiritual progress. and certain types of leeks (which more or less amounted to veganism). proclaiming that arguments made in support of meat eating. aids spiritual cultivation. it was deemed improper for Mahayana practitioners to consume their ﬂesh. Vegetarianism was. the various Buddhist sects abandoned the age-old prohibitions against meat eating. as by and large in traditional Japanese society most people lived on a largely vegetarian diet (although they consumed ﬁsh). who practiced vegetarianism and issued decrees that restricted the killing of animals. especially ones belonging to the Zen sects. although few Buddhists identify themselves as vegetarians. which remains distinct among the Buddhist traditions by its stress on the injunction against the eating of meat. 502–549) in China. which presents a series of arguments that highlight the evils of meat eating and includes a call to disallow the practice. such as Sri Lankan kings who prohibited the slaughter of animals. The Buddhist concern with killing is also reﬂected in the relatively low consumption of meat and the rarity of making offerings of red meat to the monks. Among other Mahayana traditions. In Japan that inﬂuence extended until the onset of the modern period. Since this text prohibits the eating of meat. Since animals. From the medieval period onward meat eating was prohibited in Buddhist monasteries. and helps one to avoid the negative karmic consequences of meat eating. The scripture also takes to task the permissive attitudes of earlier Buddhist texts and traditions. Vegetarianism is much more widespread among Western Buddhists. and lay devotees who have not adopted a vege-
. vegetarianism is not widely practiced in Tibetan Buddhism. Vegetarian feasts are a common feature of Chinese Buddhist festivals. That seems to be inﬂuenced by a number of disparate factors. and leads to unpleasant rebirth. Although compassion and love for all beings are regarded as cardinal virtues by the Tibetans. such as festivals dedicated to popular bodhisattvas. Arguably the most trenchant critiques can be found in the Lankavatara Scripture. in addition to being healthy. including increased interest in vegetarianism by the general society. formally retain vegetarian diets for priests undergoing formal training. and for good measure it also explicitly prohibits the eating of meat by all disciples of the Buddha under all circumstances. where the vast majority of monks engage in conspicuous consumption of large quantities of meat. and adherence of ethical principles informed by ecological concerns. Vegetarianism continues to be a basic feature of Chinese Buddhism. Korea. Vegetarianism also had a broad effect on traditional Chinese society. Under Buddhist inﬂuence. With the increased secularization of the Buddhist clergy. the practice of vegetarianism is a rare occurrence in all Theravadin countries. practiced by lay Buddhists as well. Adoption of vegetarianism became more prevalent with the emergence of the Mahayana tradition. Japan. There vegetarianism is often frowned upon. the adoption of a vegetarian diet accords with Buddhist values and ideals. an apocryphal text composed in China. and Vietnam. like all other creatures. According to the scripture. and still is. and Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty (r. are spurious. although external criticisms of Buddhist meat eating might have also played some part. Meat eating is much more prevalent in other Theravada countries such as Thailand. during the medieval period the imperial government issued decrees that restricted or prohibited the slaughter of animals on certain dates. Explicit critiques of meat eating appear in a number of Mahayana scriptures and other texts composed by leading ﬁgures of the movement.
Their concern was with regard to possible untoward effect upon human character rather than with animal welfare. not because of a concern for the welfare of animals. Albo opines that Cain did not offer an animal sacriﬁce because he regarded humans and animals as equals and. And. Cain failed to understand the reason for the rejection of his sacriﬁce and assumed that. but is silent with regard to any validating rationale. Indeed. But when the sons of Noah came [He] permitted them [the beasts of the Earth] as it is said. Walters. . 2) A number of medieval scholars. and Vegetarianism. Isaac Abravanel (also spelled “Abarbanel. Islam. Abel’s sacriﬁce was accepted by God because his error was not as serious as that of his brother. 11:46): whoever engages in [the study of] the Law is
This text should certainly not be construed as declaring that meat is permitted only to the scholar as a reward for his erudition or diligence. Accordingly. not only are normative laws regarded as binding solely upon the authority of divine revelation. etc. 61– 91. Peter.
Vegetarianism and Judaism
In traditional Jewish thinking. and R. Nevertheless. Maharsha (Rav Shmuel Eliezer Halevi Eidels. Cain’s error was egregious in the extreme. Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama. chapter 15. gave human beings limited rights over animals. mankind could no longer be held to such lofty moral standards. “Adam was not permitted meat for purposes of eating as it is written. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Since Cain remained conﬁrmed in his opinion that humans and animals are inherently equal. accordingly. An examination of the writings of rabbinic scholars reveals three distinct attitudes with regard to vegetarianism: 1) The Gemara (BT Pesachim 49b) declares that an ignoramus ought not to partake of meat:
“This is the law of the animal . See also: Animals. Buddha. Albany: State University of New York Press. viz.
permitted to eat the ﬂesh of animals and fowl. because Abel shared the error of his brother. Joseph Albo maintains that renunciation of the consumption of meat for reasons of concern for animal welfare is not only morally erroneous but even repugnant. Kerry S.. subsequent to Adam’s sin. including the differentiation between kosher and non-kosher species. in the eyes of God. ‘as the green grass I have given you everything’ ” (Gen. meanness and cruelty. people ought to aspire to the highest levels of moral conduct and eschew the ﬂesh of animals. including R. Abel maintained that humans were superior to animals in that they possessed reason as demonstrated by his ability to use intellect in cultivating ﬁelds and in shepherding ﬂocks. but whoever does not engage in [the study of] the Law may not eat the ﬂesh of animals and fowl. but not beasts of the Earth for you. 1:29). Book III. The ignoramus is not proﬁcient in the myriad rules and regulations governing the eating of meat. they argue. 9:3). Jataka Tales. but because of the fact that slaughter of animals might cause the individual who performs such acts to develop negative character traits. ‘for you shall it be for food and to all beasts of the Earth’ (Gen. . animal sacriﬁce was intrinsically superior to the offering of produce. The classic biblical commentators found entirely divergent explanations for the change that occurred with regard to dietary regulations. the purging of forbidden fat and veins. Abel’s error was not as profound as that of Cain. but it did not confer upon him the right to kill animals for his own needs. Vegetarianism and Judaism. Hence he was so lacking in favor in the eyes of God that his sacriﬁce was rejected. Joseph Albo (c. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. but ethical principles as well are regarded as endowed with validity and commended as goals of human aspiration only if they. the soaking and salting of meat. 2000. the value of vegetarianism as a moral desideratum can be acknowledged only if support is found within the corpus of the Written or Oral Law. and Lisa Portmess. declares Albo. 156–70. According to Albo. A proof-text often cited in support of vegetarianism as an ideal to which humans should aspire is a statement recorded in the Talmud (BT Sanhedrin 59b):
Rav Judah stated in the name of Rav. regard vegetarianism as a moral ideal.” 1437–1508) in his commentary to Genesis 9:3 and Isaiah 11:7. even as an act of divine worship. Animals. this talmudic dictum is simply a terse statement of the relevant law prior to the time of Noah. including the right to use animals in the service of God. felt that he had no right to take the life of an animal. Although he was also guilty of error. but it was an error nonetheless. This. Permission to eat the ﬂesh of animals was granted only to Noah because. and the fowl” (Lev. too. Abel believed.
Some writers have regarded this statement as reﬂecting the notion that primeval humanity was denied the ﬂesh of animals because of its enhanced moral status.1380–1444) in Sefer ha’Ikarim. he was punished by being permitted to die at the hands of Cain.Vegetarianism and Judaism Further Reading Harvey. are divinely revealed. ﬁfteenth century) indicates that this text simply reﬂects a concern for scrupulous observance of the minutiae of the dietary code. he was led to the even more grievous conclusion that just
. R. 2000. In point of fact. eds. Albo asserts that this was the intellectual error committed by Cain and that it was this error that was the root cause of Cain’s act of fratricide.
blessed be He. Chayyim Chizkiyahu Medini. an examination of pp. Ma’amar 10 sec. has no reason to refrain from eating meat. Moshe Teitelbaum (1759–1841). Kitzur Sh’lah (Jerusalem. but rather to the notion that violence against one’s fellows was equally acceptable. Moses Cordovero expresses the concern that the soul of a wicked human being may be present in a slaughtered animal and exert a deleterious inﬂuence over the person who consumes its ﬂesh. 129b–30a of that edition reveals that. quite to the contrary. 1902–1994) is quoted as having expressed opposition to vegetarianism. The reference appears to be to the Amsterdam. Parshat Vayeira. BT Sanhedrin 108a. meat was permitted to Noah. Now that man has sinned for what purpose do I need animals and beasts?”
Those comments serve to indicate that the extermination of innocent animals in the course of the Deluge must
Vegetarianism and Judaism
Vegetarianism and Kabbalah Abstinence from the ﬂesh of animals is also the subject of scattered comments in kabbalistic writings. Eliyahu Hakohen of Izmir. said. one who is imbued with the Divine Spirit.
If man sinned. The father arose and took apart the nuptial canopy declaring. 1960: 161) advises that particular effort be made to eat ﬁsh on Shabbat so that the souls of the righteous which may be incarnated in the ﬁsh be “perfected” through consumption of the ﬁsh by a righteous and observant Jew. Albo does not explain why the generations after the Flood drew the correct conclusion and were not prone again to commit the error of Cain. The mitzvot performed in preparation and partaking of the meat and the blessings pronounced upon its consumption serve to “perfect” the transmigrated soul so that it may be released to enjoy eternal reward. s. Ma’amarei haShabbatot. d. 18:8]. nineteenth century). Eliyahu de Vidas’ Reishit Chokhmah (sixteenth century) in S’dei Chemed (an encyclopedia of Jewish Law by R. for example. R. According to these sources. 36 and R. “Ma’arekhet Akhilah” sec. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the Lubavitcher rebbe. The Gemara. Genesis 7:23 declares that during the period of the Flood God des-
troyed not only humans but also every living creature.v. Albo asserts. R. Yismach Mosheh. rather than advising total abstinence from the ﬂesh of living creatures. “I did not create animals and beasts other than for man. which ultimately culminated in punishment by means of the Flood. R.” a goal that is central to the kabbalists’ view of the human purpose in life (Slae. David Bleich
as one is entitled to take the life of an animal so also he was entitled to take the life of a fellow human being. He is reported by R. R. 1908 edition of Reishit Chokhmah. See also R. 1. the Holy One. ch. There is. however. advises that a person seeking spiritual perfection should “distance” himself from eating meat. also spelled “Elimelech”). vayikach chem’ah v’chalav [Gen. However. Accepting the principle of transmigration of souls. Reishit Chokhmah is cited as stating that one should not eat the ﬂesh of any living creature. In a footnote appended to that text. A similar position is attributed to R. queries. a rabbinic text that effectively resolves the issue. and hence capable of determining that no such soul is incarnated in the animal he is about to eat. Opposition to the consumption of meat appears to be a narrowly held view even within the kabbalistic tradition. Yechiel Mikhel Halevi Epstein (1829–1908). the editor remarks that. Reishit Chokhmah offers counsel with regard to the time of day most suitable for the partaking of meat. the doctrine of transmigration yields a positive view regarding the eating of meat. Albo asserts. on kabbalistic grounds. Shi’ur Komah (Warsaw 1883: 84b). It was precisely the notion that humans and animals are equal that led. Moses Cordovero. was adopted by succeeding generations as well. 1988). This position. in order to impress upon humankind the superiority of human beings over members of the animal kingdom. B’nei Yissaskhar. not to the renunciation of causing harm to animals and to concern for their welfare. In the interim his son died. “I did nothing other than on behalf of my son. Shevet Musar (by R. 18. 4. at least tentatively. Righteous individuals who must undergo transmigration in expiation of minor infractions are incarnated in ﬁsh in order to spare them the pain of slaughter. A number of kabbalistic sources indicate that. Now that he has died for what purpose do I need the nuptial canopy?” Similarly. sec. See. transmigrated souls present in the ﬂesh of animals may secure their release only
when the meat of the animal has been consumed by a man. and Sivan.
J. Shear-Yashuv Cohen (chief rabbi of Haifa and lifelong vegetarian) to have voiced the concern that refraining from consumption of meat will prevent the “elevation of sparks. Scripture speaks of ﬁsh as “gathered” rather than as slaughtered and similarly speaks of the righteous as being “gathered” to their forebears rather than experiencing the throes of death. Ma’amar 5. what was the sin of the animals? Rabbi Joshua the son of Korchah answered the question with a parable: A man made a nuptial canopy for his son and prepared elaborate foods for the wedding feast. The inevitable result was a total breakdown of the social order. 1729). Subsequent to the Flood. Tzvi Elimelekh of Dinov (1783–1841. Min hattai. according to this thesis.
it is impossible for humans to sublimate their desire for meat. individuals who are repulsed by the prospect of consuming the ﬂesh of a living creature. The question is one of perspective. including the right to take animal lives for their own beneﬁt. Concern arises only when such conduct is elevated to the level of a moral norm. his argument is that there ought to be a proper order of priorities. and God’s Intention. however. J. when it is found to be repugnant. Cohen. Kabbalah and Eco-theology. J. There are. will be that humans will violate this norm in seeking selfgratiﬁcation.Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook be regarded as proof positive of the superiority of human beings over members of the animal kingdom. they seek to give expression to moral drives by becoming particularly scrupulous with regard to some speciﬁc aspect of moral behavior. The implication is that meat may be consumed when there is desire and appetite for it as food. It is indeed the case that in his writings Rabbi Kook speaks of vegetarianism as an ideal and points out that Adam did not partake of the ﬂesh of animals. NJ: Keav Publishing House. nay. Thus the basic principle (i. Frequently. Judaism. not enhanced respect for the life of animals. people might become quite callous with regard to human welfare and human life and express their instinctive moral feelings in an exaggerated concern for animal welfare. Animals could be destroyed by a righteous God only because the sole purpose of those creatures was to serve humanity. Hence. argues Rabbi Kook. Despite the foregoing. Rabbi Kook makes those comments in his portrayal of the eschatological era. the continued existence of animal species is purposeless. But Rabbi Kook is emphatic. He regards man’s moral state in that period as being akin to that of Adam before his sin and does indeed view renunciation of enjoyment of animal ﬂesh as part of the heightened moral awareness which will be manifest at that time. Vegetarianism. Rabbi Kook is quite explicit in stating that enmity between nations and racial discrimination should be of greater moral concern to humankind than the well-being of animals and that only when such matters have been rectiﬁed should attention be turned to questions of animal welfare.. in effect. Once taking the life of animals is regarded as being equal in abhorrence to taking the life of human beings. maintains Rabbi Kook. it will transpire. four distinct arguments in renunciation of vegetarianism as a goal toward which contemporary man ought to aspire: i) Rabbi Kook remarks almost facetiously that one might surmise that all problems of human welfare have been resolved and the sole remaining area of concern is animal welfare. Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. Hoboken. Were they to accord animals the same rights as human beings they would rapidly degenerate to the level of animals in assuming that humans are bound by standards of morality no different from those acted out by brute animals. v. the superiority of humans over members of the animal kingdom) was amply demonstrated by the destruction of animals during the course of the ﬂood. a fortiori. See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition. Rosner. that in pursuit of meat. iii) Human beings were granted dominion over animals.” Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 1:2 (1981). In effect. with all the desire of your soul may you eat meat” (Deut. 3) One modern-day scholar who is often cited as looking upon vegetarianism with extreme favor is the late Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. It is not the case that an individual who declines to partake of meat is ipso facto guilty of violation of the moral code. but rather debasement of human life. In context. to be sure. but may be eschewed when there is no desire and. “Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective. Scripture states. David. vehement. Fred. Contemporary Halachic Problems.
. Rabbi Kook advances what are. With almost prescient knowledge of future events. “and you will say: ‘I will eat meat. 2001. These comments summon to mind the spectacle of Germans watching with equanimity while their Jewish neighbors were dispatched to crematoria and immediately thereafter turning their attention to the welfare of the household pets that had been left behind. The result will be. Biomedical Ethics and Jewish Law. The inevitable result of promoting vegetarianism as a normative standard of human conduct. contends Rabbi Kook. people will regard cannibalism as no more heinous that the consumption of the ﬂesh of animals. New York: Ktav Publishing/Yeshiva University Press. 38–63. Alfred S.e. ii) Given the present nature of the human condition. David Bleich Further Reading Bleich. vegetarianism is not rejected by Judaism as a valid lifestyle for at least some individuals. in order to impress upon human beings their
spiritual superiority and heightened moral obligations. On the contrary. 3. Rabbi Kook remarks that even individuals who are morally degenerate seek to channel their natural moral instincts in some direction. were vegetarianism to become the norm.’ because your soul desires to eat meat. iv) In an insightful psychological observation. Judaism. Rabbi Kook argues that. 1989. in admonishing that vegetarianism dare not be adopted as a norm of human conduct prior to the advent of the eschatological era. 12:20). if humankind is to be destroyed.
antagonizing modernists with his insistence on the absolute centrality of religion in Jewish life. They would forget humanity’s unique spiritual vocation and lapse into a brutish and purely corporeal existence. Kook addressed the morality of human/animal relations in remarkably radical terms. Modernist atheism would catalyze monotheism’s ﬁnal puriﬁcation. I give you all these” [Gen. Building upon earlier traditions. Tyrannical governments would use radical campaigns for animal protection as tools for the oppression of humans. and afterwards returned to Palestine to serve as Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. 13:23) serve to prepare us for the day when vegetarianism will be required of humans. was the leading Orthodox Jewish thinker of the Zionist movement. the time had come for the Jewish People to return to its land. After serving as rabbi to two Eastern European towns. these are often regarded within Judaism as spiritually damaging to the human perpetrator. and as a propagandistic distraction from the injustices they perpetrate against people. Kook found in the theory of evolution an expression of the cosmic drive toward perfection that informs all created beings. Immunized against idolatry and reestablished in its home soil. people would understand such a demand as implying the essential equality of humans and animals. many biblical commandments serve to remind us of the present imperfect state of human attitudes toward animals. they shall be yours for food” [Gen. Kook taught that an unbalanced attachment to nature invites the dangers of idolatry and pantheism. Kook argued that absolute justice for animals should be demanded only after inter-human relations are free of violence. Kook’s writings on vegetarianism. “You shall not boil a
Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935)
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. Kook found his return route to Palestine cut off by the outbreak of World War I. The law stating. Kook was a leading Talmudic scholar and expert in Jewish law. In this context. after the Deluge God permitted it as a concession to human weakness (“Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat. Kook claimed that while the earlier ban on meat would be reinstated in messianic times. Jewish laws including careful ritual guidelines for humane slaughter. including inorganic matter. In 1921 he was elected ﬁrst Ashkenazi (European) Chief Rabbi of Palestine. but also even the nonviolent exploitation of animal products such as wool and milk constitutes a form of theft! Kook was careful to explain that full moral consideration for animals should only be implemented when humanity achieves its highest spiritual development in the messianic era. ultimately. Now that those dangers had been dealt with. encompassing processes ranging from biological evolution to the spiritual advancement of humanity. Born in Griva. Judaism can safely engage with the physical world in order to perfect and bring to light the holiness implicit in all of reality. the return of the Jewish People to Palestine may be seen as aimed at achieving its rapprochement with physical nature. He viewed history as the dialectical unfolding of a cosmic drama of redemption. He spent the duration of the war in a temporary rabbinical position in London.1696
Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook the inherent goodness within all phenomena. However. Similarly. Kook went beyond such considerations to speak of human injustice toward animals. in 1904 Kook immigrated to Palestine to serve as rabbi of Jaffa. to the Ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist pietists of Jerusalem. Latvia. from the radically anti-religious socialistZionists. while also deeply inﬂuenced by Jewish mysticism and Hasidism. In their present fallen state. collected in a pamphlet entitled Hazon HaTzimchonut v’haShalom miV’khinah Toranit (The Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace from a Torah Perspective). Kook sought ties with people from all sections of the Jewish population. often referred to by the Hebrew title Rav Kook. the perfection of humanity as a whole. True to his belief in
. the perfection of the entire universe both in its material and spiritual aspects. whose own historical development serves as a catalyst for. At the center of this drama stands the Jewish people. He was something of a controversial ﬁgure. 1:29]). bringing about. Not only is the slaughter of animals for food wrong. His view is rooted in the ancient Jewish notion that while God originally forbade humans to eat meat (“Behold I have given you every seed-bearing plant upon all the Earth. have been the subject of great interest and misunderstanding. and the prohibition against eating blood (Deut. Kook claimed that the Land of Israel (Palestine) is peculiarly endowed with a unique spiritual quality whose inﬂuence is necessary for the Jewish People to fulﬁll their spiritual quest. rather than genuinely evil in themselves. a premature demand for vegetarianism and full justice toward animals would be spiritually destructive. Kook taught. Reﬂecting his belief that every part of the Jewish people plays an essential role in the redemptive process. The Jewish people had been exiled from their land in order to distance Judaism from nature and purify Jewish monotheism of idolatrous and pantheistic tendencies. Judaism has traditionally objected to unnecessary animal suffering and to the wanton destruction of nonhuman life. Kook’s proliﬁc writings meld traditional Jewish philosophical and mystical ideas with elements of modern European philosophy to create a comprehensive Jewish worldview. as with the green grasses. While attending a convention in Europe in 1914. he viewed secular atheism as a spiritually profound and ultimately beneﬁcial challenge to traditional religiosity. 9:3]). On the one hand. and harbinger of. and scandalizing traditionalists by embracing Zionism. oppression and injustice. and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit. For the time being.
Kabbalah and Eco-theology. “And God saw the Earth. Abraham Isaac. Paganism – A Jewish Perspective. and Poems. and God’s Intention kid in its mother’s milk” (Ex.Vegetarianism. Poetry of Being: Lectures on the Philosophy of Rabbi Kook. People had degenerated to such an extent that they would eat a limb torn from a living animal. in terms of absolute justice. because people had descended to such an extremely low spiritual level. Vegetarianism and Kabbalah). Rav Kook believed that the permission to eat meat was only a temporary concession to the practices of the times. and behold it was corrupt. The vegetarian diet was a central part of God’s initial plan. This book includes the essay “Fragments of Light. 22:11) reminds us that. God saw everything that he had made and “behold. 1:29). tr. Maimonides. 23:19) reminds us that by right the milk belongs to the kid. Kook: Selected Letters. The strongest support for vegetarianism as a positive ideal in Torah literature is in the writing of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook (1865–1935). Paganism and Judaism. Ish-Shalom. Kook. tr. 1986. and that they concentrate their efforts on ﬁrst working to improve relations between people. Reprinted in 1972 under the title High Priest of Rebirth. Israel: Ma’aliot Publications of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe. Berel Dov Lerner Further Reading Agus.
The Talmud also asserts that people were initially vegetarians: “Adam was not permitted meat for purposes of eating” (BT Sanhedrin 59b). Lights of Holiness. Ora Wiskind-Elper. Kook. Judaism. and God’s Intention. Ma’aleh Adumim. In the early twentieth century he spoke powerfully for vegetarianism. So. 9:3). and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit – to you it shall be for food” (Gen. for all ﬂesh had corrupted their way upon the Earth” (Gen. By the time of Noah. 1:31). Tel-Aviv: MOD Books. Vegetarianism and Judaism (and adjacent. 1949. Yosef. Abraham Isaac. and Rabbi Joseph Albo. Tzvi Feldman. Essay. and which summarizes much of its content. Benjamin.Y. each sheep is the genuinely legitimate owner of its own wool. Everything in the universe was as God wanted it. 1:29). The great thirteenth-century Jewish commentator Nachmanides indicates that one reason behind this initial human diet is the kinship between all sentient beings:
Living creatures possess a soul and a certain spiritual superiority [to non-human creation] which in this respect make them similar to the possessors of intellect [human beings] and they have the power of affecting their own welfare and their food. Abraham Isaac Kook: The Lights of Penitence. Letters. Jacob B. God granted permission for people to eat meat: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. ed. Rav Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook: Between Rationalism and Mysticism. After indicating that people should consume only plant-based foods. Ben Shlomo.” which constitutes the ﬁnal section of Hazon HaTzimhonut. tr. with nothing superﬂuous or lacking. 6:12). humanity had morally degenerated. Albany: SUNY Press. He writes that if people had been denied the right to eat meat some might
. Ben Zion Bokser. 1:29). including Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra. 1993. Abraham Isaac. 1983. as the green herb have I given you all” (Gen. See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition. It is a divine blueprint for a vegetarian world order. and God’s Intention
And God said: “Behold. ed. Kook. as eventually recorded in A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace (1961). I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the Earth. People are not always ready to live up to God’s will. 1978. it was necessary that they be taught to value human life above that of animals. According to Rav Kook. Nachmanides. New York: Paulist Press. Rav A. New York: Bloch Publishers. Rabbi David Cohen. Judaism. He was a writer on Jewish mysticism and an outstanding scholar of Jewish law. agree with Rashi. The foremost Jewish Torah commentator Rashi states the following about God’s ﬁrst dietary regime: “God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature to eat its ﬂesh. 1990. because a God who is merciful to his creatures would not institute an everlasting law permitting the killing of animals for food. it was very good” (Gen. Shmuel Himelstein. Only every green herb were they to all eat together” (Rashi’s commentary on Gen. in complete harmony.
Vegetarianism. as a concession to people’s weakness. The Moral Principle. Judaism. Vegetarianism. Jerusalem: Nezer David Publications. and they ﬂee from pain and death (commentary on Gen. Judaism. Hazon HaTzimhonut v’HaShalom miVekhina Toranit (The Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace from a Torah Perspective. Hebrew). Yet millions of people have read this Torah verse and passed it by without considering its meaning. Rav Kook was the ﬁrst Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi (Rav) of pre-state Israel and a highly respected and beloved Jewish spiritual leader and thinker.. Banner of Jerusalem.
God’s original dietary plan represents a unique statement in humanity’s spiritual history. The prohibition against wearing “cloth combining wool and linen” (Deut. tr.
God’s initial intention was that people be vegetarians. Most Torah commentators.
I believe. The Talmud expresses this negative connotation associated with the consumption of meat:
The Torah teaches a lesson in moral conduct. nuts. states. “meat of lust. but one who is ignorant of Torah is forbidden to eat meat (BT Pesachim 49b). Just prior to granting Noah and his family permission to eat meat. author of Animal Life in Jewish Tradition. The above verse does not command people to eat meat. and Deuteronomy 12:16. prohibited human sacriﬁce. at least the Torah. Rav Kook writes that the permission to eat meat “after all the desire of your soul” contains a concealed reproach and an implied reprimand. the divine bounty is poetically described in references to fruits. and 15:23.1698
Vegetarianism. into your hands are they delivered (Gen. Judaism. Rav Kook regards the permission to slaughter animals for food as a “transitional tax.
eat the ﬂesh of human beings instead. after all the desire of your soul (Deut. and upon all the ﬁsh of the sea.” because your soul desires to eat ﬂesh. . 17:3–5). 23 and 25. 9:4). God states:
And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the Earth. due to their inability to control their lust for ﬂesh. when people will return to vegetarian diets. and vines. Similar commands are given in Leviticus 19:26. which is the blood thereof. Life must be removed from the animal before it can be eaten. Rabbi J.” or temporary dispensation.
Some authorities explain this restriction in practical terms: only a Torah scholar can properly observe all the laws of animal slaughter and meat preparation. The sages also felt that eating meat was not for everyone: Only a scholar of Torah may eat meat. There is an immediate prohibition against eating blood: “Only ﬂesh with the life thereof. God later permitted people to eat meat even if it was not part of a sacriﬁcial offering:
When the Lord your God shall enlarge your border as He has promised you.” so named because rabbinic teachings indicate that meat is not considered a necessity for life. . Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch argues that the attachment between people and animals was broken after the ﬂood. reject meat eating. Even while arguing against vegetarianism as a moral cause. 9:2). fruits. which led to a change in the relationship of people to the world. the Torah looks favorably on plant foods. The eating of “unconsecrated meat. “The implication is that meat may be consumed when there is desire and appetite for it as food. There is no special b’rakhah (blessing) recited before eating meat or ﬁsh.” (1987: 245). He states that a day will come (the Messianic Period) when people will detest the eating of the ﬂesh of animals because of a moral loathing. you may eat ﬂesh. and upon all wherewith the ground teems. and upon every fowl of the air. Maimonides states that the biblical sacriﬁces were a concession to the primitive practices of the nations at that time: people (including the Israelites) were not then ready for forms of divine service which did not include sacriﬁce and death (as did those of all the heathens). and vegetables. and God’s Intention Rabbinic tradition understands the Torah as acknowledging people’s desire to eat ﬂesh and permitting it under proper circumstances. and you shall say: “I will eat ﬂesh. David Bleich. “Jewish tradition does not command carnivorous behavior . According to Bleich. Similarly. How many Jews today can consider themselves so scholarly and spiritually advanced to be able to eat meat? Those who do diligently study the Torah and are aware of conditions related to the production and slaughter of meat would. .
This newly permitted meat was called basar ta’avah. only a diligent Torah scholar can fully comprehend the many regulations governing the preparation and consumption of meat. .
Now that there is permission to eat animals. vegetables. When the Israelites were in the wilderness. but rather permits this diet as a concession to lust” (1984: 300). 17:10 and 12. concedes that “Scripture does not command the Israelite to eat meat. until a “brighter era” can be reached. The Torah identiﬁes blood with life: “for the blood is the life” (Deut. another critic of vegetarian activism. In contrast to the lust associated with ﬂesh foods. In the Song of Songs. a fortiori. All meat which was permitted to be eaten had to be an integral part of a sacriﬁcial rite. shall you not eat” (Gen. but not as requiring the consumption of meat. master kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria explains it in spiritual terms: only a Torah scholar can elevate the “holy sparks” trapped in the animal.” meat from animals slaughtered for private consumption. While there are few conditions on the consumption of vegetarian foods. Rabbi Elijah Judah Schochet. wine. animals could only be slaughtered and eaten as part of the sacriﬁcial service in the sanctuary (Lev. 12:20). a noted contemporary Torah scholar and professor at Yeshiva University. and shall eat it only occasionally and sparingly. was not permitted. 12:23). cake. but it may be eschewed when there is not desire and. However. and then people will not eat meat because their soul will not have the urge to eat it. as there is for other foods such as bread. the previous harmony between people and animals no longer exists. and the Talmud details an elaborate process for doing so. when it is found to be repugnant” (1987: 245). as a major advance. that man shall not eat meat unless he has a special craving for it . The permission given to Noah to eat meat is not unconditional. The blessing for meat is a general
Lachai Ro’i. 1982. And the lion shall eat straw like the ox . Elijah J. 292– 317. Diet for a New America. John. Marblehead. Development. people and animals will again not eat each other’s ﬂesh. . a twentieth-century South African Jewish vegetarian writer. Although most Jews eat meat today. . Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim – The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Rav Kook believes that there is a reprimand implicit in the many laws and restrictions over the preparing. ed. springing forth in valleys and hills. Jerusalem: Merkaz HaRav. . Ktav/ Yeshiva University: New York 1987. And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.. 1995. of fountains and depths. 1987. Sears. Inc. Cohen. New York: Feldheim. And the leopard shall lie down with the kid. New York: Ktav. And a little child shall lead them And the cow and the bear shall feed. they are leading lives that prepare for and potentially hasten the coming of the Messiah. Its Bases. ed. The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism. of vines and ﬁg trees and pomegranates. 2001. Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. Richard H. 237–50. Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition. Jewish Environmentalism in North America. 1984. . Alfred S. and pursue peace. Louis. with the aim of eventually leading people away from meat eating. Vegetarian Judaism. Bleich. Schochet. See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition. Judaism and Vegetarianism. (Isaiah 11:6–9). More recent clans from Zimbabwe settled in the Soutpansberg area roughly 500 years ago and again some 250 years ago. In the future ideal time (the Messianic age). Walpole. . Based on the above Torah teachings. 1961. and Legislation in Hebrew Literature. concluded that Jewish religious ethical vegetarians are pioneers of the Messianic era. New York: K’tav. Robbins. “Vegetarianism and Judaism.” In Alfred S. Kalechofsky. Jewish vegetarians believe that Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products. People’s lives will not be supported at the expense of animals’ lives. 2003. He also believes that the high moral level involved in the vegetarianism of the generations before Noah was a virtue of such great value that it cannot be lost forever. Roberta. Richard Schwartz Further Reading Berman.” In David Cohen. Maimonides. a land wherein you shall eat bread without scarceness. Cohen. Animals in the Bible and Qur’an. David.” Contemporary Halakhic Problems. New York: Lantern Books. New York: K’tav. a land of brooks of water. Halacha and Contemporary Society. “Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain .
resources. Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition. Roberta. and because animal-centered diets violate and contradict important Jewish mandates to preserve human health. Rav Kook based these views on the prophecy of Isaiah:
And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. Volume III. And you shall eat and be satisﬁed. attend to the welfare of animals. . Vegetarianism and Judaism. protect the environment.Venda Religion and the Land one. New Hampshire: Stillpoint. Kabbalah and Ecotheology. the oldest Venda clans (mitupo) of the Soutpansberg Mountains area between South Africa and Zimbabwe can be traced back roughly 600 years. and eating of animal products (the laws of kashrut). 1984. conserve
Venda Religion and the Land (Southern Africa)
By the combined use of oral traditions and archeology.
In a booklet which summarizes many of Rav Kook’s teachings. NY: Orot. 8: 7–10). 1998. 1979. Massachusetts: Micah Publications. Marblehead. Rabbi J. Their young ones shall lie down together. “A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace. help feed hungry people. combining. Cohen. a land of olive oil and date honey. Kook. ed. . the same as that over water or any other undifferentiated food. you shall not lack anything in it. Kalechofsky. As settled agriculturists and specialized long-distance traders ruled by
. because they are meant to provide an elaborate apparatus designed to keep alive a sense of reverence for life. Schwartz. and bless the Lord your God for the good land that He has given you (Deut. Dovid. Noah J. Judaism. a land of wheat and barley. Joseph Green. Animal Life in Jewish Tradition. Abraham Isaac HaKohen. Spring Valley. Massachusetts: Micah Publications. God’s high ideal – the initial vegetarian dietary law – stands supreme in the Torah for Jews and the whole world to see. Typical of the Torah’s positive depiction of many nonﬂesh foods is the following evocation of the produce of the Land of Israel:
For the Lord your God brings you into a good land.
are either avoided or treated with respect. so the rituals within the assembly area actually reenact the creation stories. inundating the royal mountain portion of the settlement. Another reason for leaving gifts at sacred spots is to obtain fertility from the very old spirits. then the assembly area turned into an actual pool. Venda people believe that ancestors send messengers. Instead of elimination. while the Dzhivhani lost their pool status. or “mountain. At certain unusual locations. they did not kill their descendants. of his predecessor. or mountain status.” According to oral traditions and radiocarbon dates from associated settlements. In the same vein. Chiefs enjoyed both political control over decision making and access to high status ancestral spirits. as a pool. and pre-marital rites. Yet. still resonates in the Soutpansberg Mountains. the Mbedzi with their pool status. It was believed that elimination of these ancient people might upset the original spirits of the land. however. or “pool. The Mbedzi immigrants stripped the Dzhivhani of their political powers. Reference to this area as a mountain is metaphorically expressed in oral traditions as a conquering chief stepping from mountain to mountain. Various Venda clans recall that they originally came from a fertile pool in a mountain. his immediate predecessor became the pool. his pool status has “dried up”). to scare disrespectful trespassers. his councilors. and wives. the most recent ruling dynasty normally avoided contact with descendants of the original rulers. But the importance of the original rulers. it is said. the various Venda clans were intimately tied to the land and its features. The “dry-one” label applies to those chiefs who came from a line that formerly had great powers. Stone-walled royal settlements were divided between a low-lying assembly area.1700
Venda Religion and the Land political misfortunes were eventually ostracized from the recognized political system. for instance. These dual powers of a chief were metaphorically expressed by reference to prominent features on the landscape. in the form of dangerous animals and/or distorted mountain and water creatures. such as being responsible for soil fertility and rain. The different status categories are expressed by the distinctive burial practices of the various clans. and the Dzhivhani “dry-ones. since the most current chiefs and their ritual functionaries respected the intimate and long-lasting spiritual connection of the ﬁrst chieﬂy dynasty to the land. including San rock-art sites. Venda still leave trinkets to appease the original spirits of the land. The royal living area inhabited by the chief. Mbedzi chiefs in pools. the new chief almost invariably recognized the spiritual potency. and boulders. caves. This pool returns to normal once the enemy has been frightened away or drowned. that a new chief respected or even feared a subjugated chief’s intricate spiritual link to the land and its associated ancestors. was the arena of political decision making and maneuvering.. he normally retained his spiritual potency to make rain and inﬂuence soil fertility. whereas they likened his spiritual abilities. or pool status. The Venda likened a chief’s political power to a mountain. Unlike their Sotho-speaking neighbors to the south.” The assembly area was the venue for various fertility rituals. But shifting political fortunes did not end here as subsequent chiefs in turn established their hegemony. whereas Dzhivhani chiefs have no particular burial mode any more. Since that time. the Mbedzi became the ofﬁcial rainmakers. such as the Dzhivhani. in particular old stone-walled ruins of royal settlements. Mbedzi immigrants from southern Zimbabwe subjugated the Dzhivhani chiefs some 500 years ago. As mentioned above. or “pool. Approximately 250 years ago the Singo from central Zimbabwe in turn conquered the Soutpansberg. when a chief dies. including rainmaking. but possibly also enjoyed prestige as being responsible for fertility and rain.” and a higher royal living area. Accordingly. pools. These are the locations believed to be portals to the underworld where ancestral spirits reside. and the original chief became a socalled “dry-one” (i. However. Various noticeable locations on the landscape. particularly as rainmakers. then the assembly area permanently turned into a pool. A new chief became the mountain. The organization of royal Venda living space also expressed this dichotomy between politics and religion.e. “The Mountain has fallen.” Medicines buried at the entrance to the assembly area. this is a metaphorical expression of the demise of the chief’s political power. Those in power viewed the formerly inﬂuential chiefs on the periphery of the status quo as a threat and conveniently branded them as witches. renewal of the Earth. In some instances the subjugated chief actually became a ritual specialist to the incoming chief and so increased his prestige as ritual rainmaker. or pool status. is not to be tampered with. Singo chiefs are buried in mountains. mountains. but respected their abilities as pool people. their religious legacy lives on in unusual landscape features and in the old ruins. This process explains the historic distinction between the Singo rulers with their mountain status. Venda people tend not to repaint or scratch the
powerful chiefs. Very old rock art. This legacy prohibits Venda people from altering the landscape too much. Although the political clout of the ancient Venda dynasties is long gone. but due to repeated
. we know that the Dzhivhani lived in the Soutpansberg at least 600 years ago when they enjoyed mountain status. Even though the subjugated chief lost his political power. It is abundantly clear from various oral traditions. Typically. Venda people believed that if invaders crossed this protective threshold. if the invaders’ medicines proved too strong.” were intended to protect the royal settlement from invaders.
ceremonial. J. the Venda-speaking people from the Soutpansberg can be considered to be conserving the land. Gray. Much of the work of herbalists (nanga) and diviners (maine. and J. Supernatural sanction against killing animals residing in old ruins or in sacred pools can also be linked to respect for the original occupants of the land. “traditional” Venda farm laborers discourage their European masters from installing mechanical pumps at sacred pools in fear that such alterations might anger the spirits and make them “hot. muloi. 149–99. 28–35. San (Bushmen) Religion (and adjacent. See also: San (Bushmen) Apocalpytic Rock Art. London: Oxford University Press. 1931. bordering on either side of the Limpopo River. so called because many families in this group were great medicine men (diviners) who supplied a powerful antidote to evil from the mutavhatsinde tree. “Ruins and Traditions of the Ngona and Mbedzi among the Venda of the Northern Transvaal. Whereas technological inability to exhaust such resources no doubt was a contributing factor. the original inhabitants of Venda at the time of the early Iron Age. For example. abandoned copper mine shafts in the Limpopo River valley were supposedly haunted by spirits of the Musina clan and considered off-limits to trespassers. everyone crossing the falls must contribute an offering: a bracelet or piece of broken pot for a woman. central Venda in 1988.R. vhaloi) who seek to kill or harm their fellows. 13–42. Dances. Domba. Nelson Shonisani. as well as providing charms to protect people against misfortune.N. Even those Venda clans that were specialist copper miners or elephant hunters did not exploit the available copper ore deposits or elephant herds to their fullest. 69–118.Venda Witch Beliefs rock paintings of their San predecessors.” Sheet metal roofs and fences are similarly believed to cause spirits to become “hot” and vengeful. Part 4. a tuft of hair for a man. Vhushsa. “Oral Traditions. Cattle are not excluded and some cow hairs must be offered if the animal is not to incur misfortune. In this sense then. pl. Among the important migrations from the Karanga area of southern Zimbabwe were the Vhathavhatsinde people. they occupy the fertile Soutpansberg mountain range where they were traditionally horticulturalists and pastoral cattle-keepers. In other words. Loubser. V. The mungoma or diviner is
. Gwelo: Mambo Press. their worldview contributed to the preservation of unusual cultural and natural features of the Soutpansberg. The Venda people are made up of various tribal clusters who migrated to the area at different times. Van Warmelo. The Venda language is unique among South African languages in having links to the early Iron Age (200–800) inhabitants of Southern Africa. The charm is believed to contain strength given to it by travelers who trod that path without coming to any harm.N. The name is said to derive from the word muta. Part 3.M. referring to the small enclosure surrounding women’s huts and tsinde. Mimes and Symbolism of Venda Girls’ Initiation Schools: Part 1. “Songs. Part 2. The Shona and Zimbabwe 1900–1850. The Copper Miners of Musina and the Early History of the Soutpansberg. Johannes Loubser Further Reading Beach. as well as fruits that are an important source of food. 1940. In South Africa. Mr. San (Bushmen) Rainmaking). To propitiate these spirits. The Great Domba Song.
Venda Witch Beliefs (Southern Africa)
The Venda people inhabit the far northern area of the Republic of South Africa as well as the extreme south of Zimbabwe. The rivers of Vendaland and especially the sacred lake Fundudzi have a religious and mystical signiﬁcance for the Venda people. Archaeology and the History of the Venda Mitupo. 200. Whereas conservation among the Venda was almost certainly not an end in itself. I was able to photograph the pole erected by well-known diviner and herbalist. Blacking. pl. until the discovery of diamonds and gold in the nineteenth century introduced migrant labor as a way of life for the menfolk. N. at his home in Kubvhi. irrespective of the fact that their intensive farming and overgrazing practices have resulted in damaging soil erosion.N. ca. Ethnological Publication 8. some came from Zimbabwe to the north and others from the Sothospeaking areas to the south and east. 1980. Rivers ﬂowing through forested areas. The Bavenda. meaning the stem or trunk of a tree. Milayo.” African Studies 28 (1969). Ralushai. Also. supernatural sanction against overexploitation might have been another.H. mingoma) among the Venda has to do with protecting people from the machinations of witches (sg. J. Medicine men or diviners from the Vhathavatsinde still erect poles in the yards of their homesteads to indicate their avocation. are associated with the spirits of the VhaNgona. there is a deeply felt and widely shared belief among Venda people that any alterations or modiﬁcations at sacred locales would upset the spirits of the land and result in misfortune. Most medicine people among the Venda are herbalists who specialize in curing diseases and who are consulted often about ordinary ailments. H.” African Studies (1990). Pretoria: Government Printer. The Soutpansberg mountain range is a richly forested area whose trees provide wood for ritual. D. and utilitarian purposes. to cite one example.N. Venda Witch Beliefs (Southern Africa). 215–66.” Rhodesian History 9 (1977). A simple charm might be a piece of wood taken from a branch of a tree overhanging a well-used pathway. Stayt. 1–12. such as the famous Phiphidi falls.J.
or by attacking small stock. Alternatively. to suck the milk from the cows. Most diviners are maine vha lufhali. Gina Buijs
believed to have occult powers and is always consulted after someone has died so that the family of the deceased can discover who the evil person was who caused the death. Apart from killing people. except by the herbalist or diviner. as spells. which is mixed with poisonous herbs and through sympathetic magic the owner of the footprint dies from poisoning. Thus. envelopes the wearer in a kind of magic coat. Herbalists (nanga) are sometimes suspected of assisting a muloi to work harm in this way. and who are famous for their rain-queen. especially those of their neighbors. This magic is known as madambi. the sorcerer.E. owl. the Lovedu. Other persons sleeping with the muloi are believed to be put into a deep sleep so the witch is never seen. Wild animals such as snakes. The victim is believed to die soon after while the hare vanishes. This witch uses material means such as spells made from powdered roots and bark or magic. a diviner or herbalist may be male or female. The ﬁrst type are witches who act unconsciously. In 1975. and if these spirits are angry with the victim. Protection against witches comes from the mother’s ancestors. Sometimes the evil powder will be blown on. in polygamous homesteads. a successful business entrepreneur may ﬁnd himself the target of malicious accusations. as it is believed the animal can become invisible and in that way enter the body of its human victim and cause a mortal illness (Stayt 1931: 278). The herbalist can provide a protective charm against this sorcery. a creature that carries out the bidding of a witch and operates usually at night. He was accused of being a ritual murderer (mavia vhatu – slaughterer of human beings) after the body of a four year-old girl was found in the Nzehele River in Venda. to go into his cattle enclosure. A man inherits his knowledge from his father and a woman from her mother.” mixed with the powdered bones of a snake. the Venda believe that death (except in the case of the very old) is not a natural occurrence. including butcheries and ﬁlling stations in Venda. as stoats are believed to do. Among the Venda. and are known to cause harm either by biting humans and animals as snakes do. The animal will run to the intended victim and look him or her in the eyes and then vanish. for instance. and stoats are creatures of dark places or the night. a hare. a turi (stoat) into the victim’s home to bite him or her and cause disease or death. the powdered roots of the mpeta (Royena pallens) protect against ordinary diseases and keep the ancestral spirits from worrying the wearer. These witch beliefs tend to reﬂect social strains in predominantly kin-based cultures. some have resorted to devices like the murder of young children (so-called “muti” [medicine] murders) to prop up their waning inﬂuence. which. Witch beliefs in Venda are similar to those in other Bantu-speaking societies in Africa. as happened to Isaac Ramakulukusha. Remedies against the work of witches consist of charms. those most likely to be accused of being witches are often neighbors or co-wives. and give the milk to the witch. As this mixture is made
. to cause harm. That is.1702
Venda Witch Beliefs up of parts of all the witch’s familiars. while asleep. hyenas. a magic powder mixed with fat. Modjadji. uses black magic to kill her or his enemies. or toward. Witches (vhaloi) are believed to be of either gender but are more generally women. who live in a deeply forested area to the southeast of the Venda. Forensic science came to the aid of the bishop when the child was found to have drowned and crabs had eaten part of her body. owls. owls or. like hyenas. There are two distinct types of witch in Venda that correspond to the famous distinction made by E. The ﬁrst type of witch is believed to act during sleep. Stayt comments that the turi is especially feared. Like many other African peoples. diviners who discover the identity of witches who are responsible for most misfortunes and deaths. It is at this time that the witch spirit leaves the body of its innocent human victim and goes out on its evil mission. he sued the Commander of the Venda National Force for wrongful arrest and defamation. a Zionist bishop who owned numerous business enterprises. from the powdered root of the mukundulela tree (Niebuhria triphylla) which translates as “the way of force. or as protective amulets. and they may send snakes. and stoat. it is considered especially powerful in making the wearer invulnerable to attack by witches. Madambi usually works by the witch getting hold of an object belonging to her/his enemy and using it to destroy the person. They operate at night. well known as a witch familiar. EvansPritchard for the Azande of Central Africa. milk his animals. or sucking the udders of cows. they may withdraw their protection and allow the witches evil work to proceed. Accusations of witchcraft also have increased in recent years with the change to a democratic majority rule in South Africa. Herbalists provide many other charms made from powdered roots or bark that act as antidotes to evil. They are unaware of their evil-doing. For instance. the muloi may send a turi (stoat). like witches. nail and hair clippings are carefully hidden. The second type corresponds to the sorcerer among the Azande. bat’s wing. when rubbed over the body. which are often believed due to the use of sorcery in the form of poisons obtained from plants and added to the victim’s food. particularly. the witch also is believed to be very fond of milk and may force a cattle owner. Nowadays. made. With the power of chiefs and headmen waning. The second type of witch. sometimes traveling long distances on the back of a hyena or other animal. Stayt notes that the most popular madambi is made of sand from an enemy’s footprint.
but more commonly through ongoing practice of traditional religious beliefs and lifeways. After Mexico City and Puebla were devastated by the plague in 1737. sometimes overtly through resistance. Witchcraft. and by 1754 the Pope named her patroness of Mexico. When Juan Diego opens his cloak in front of the bishop. and various. Disconsolate. it should be noted that the image of Guadalupe was not explicitly employed to champion native peoples. on display
today in the twentieth-century basilica in Mexico City that serves as the central locus for Guadalupan devotion. nature. the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac north of Mexico City. thus serving Mexican patriotism and nationalism. Native peoples understandably resisted domination.D Krige. disenfranchised populations. Syncretic practices that merged Christian images and ideas with local beliefs and rituals were employed as methods of proselytizing native peoples. The ﬁrst account of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe was not published until the mid-seventeenth century. Pope John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe the Patron Saint of the Americas. See also: Muti and African Healing.” Early veneration of Guadalupe and pilgrimages to Tepeyac. In 1999. Although contentious debates over the historical credibility of the apparition-narrative mark the Guadalupan tradition. London: Oxford University Press. as both Earth goddess and patron saint. Venda Religion and the Land (Southern Africa). but also justifying the conquest.
Virgin of Guadalupe
On 8 December 1531. native and Christian images. These indigenous peasants also visited Tepeyac to venerate Guadalupe who. and by the twentieth century. a poor Christianized native. After two unsuccessful visits. In 1895 the Virgin of Guadalupe was crowned Queen of the Americas. the roses tumble out. remains a complicated symbol embodying conquest. as well as for patriots who employed it to champion Mexican identity. Mexico City claimed the Virgin of Guadalupe as its patron saint.. Zumárraga instructs Juan Diego to return with signs from the apparition. Cape Town: Juta & Co. Although Guadalupe may have had an early following among native peoples and been used as a means of evangelization by the Catholic Church. In relation to policies and practices concerning native peoples and their lands however. the legend goes. During these centuries of merging religion and patriotism. It was not until the twentieth century that the image and tradition of the Virgin of Guadalupe became explicitly associated with the rights of native peoples. Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Guadalupe became championed as the American Mary. The BaVenda. 1937. Scholars ﬁnd it signiﬁcant that the Guadalupan tradition was introduced 35 years after the conquest. Juan de Zumárraga. Krige. Stayt. or for social conservatism and control. complicated social relations. by the seventeenth century Guadalupe became associated with the interests of Mexican-born Spaniards or Creoles. Edward. whether as a symbol for independence. Realizing that a miracle had taken place. paternalistic. Devotion to the tradition of Guadalupe has been sustained for nearly 500 years and has played a signiﬁcant role in Mexican history. the cult of Guadalupe was used primarily as a conservative. to build a chapel in her honor at Tepeyac. This account tells the story of Guadalupe’s appearance in December 1531 to Juan Diego. Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata both used the symbol of Guadalupe during their revolutionary struggles. Guadalupe tells Juan Diego to climb the hill of Tepeyac and gather roses and ﬂowers as signs for the bishop. the image and legend of the Virgin of Guadalupe has provided a powerful symbol for Mexican nationalism. some sixteenth-century priests complained. Banners of Guadalupe regularly appeared in marches organized by Cesar
. a symbol of freedom for oppressed native peoples and agrarian reform. The painted icon on what is alleged to be Juan Diego’s cloak remains the heart of the cult and tradition of the Virgin of Guadalupe. only continued pre-Christian practices since native worshipers still associated her with sacred space and power coming from the Earth. As a symbol fusing religion and politics. The Virgin of Guadalupe was important for the Catholic Church and its position in Mexican society. the Virgin of Guadalupe. Hugh. revealing a life-size image of Guadalupe found miraculously imprinted on the cactus-ﬁber cloth of his cloak. In the case of Guadalupe. and the land. Speaking to him in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. the Church’s resistance to political intervention. The Realm of a Rain Queen. came to symbolize the protector of damaged land and oppressed peoples. the bishop places the image in the cathedral for public devotion and later brings it to Tepeyac. Juan Diego meets the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe for the third time. and exclusionary mechanism. patron saint of the Americas. thus associating Guadalupe with social and agrarian reform. Peasant followers of Emiliano Zapata carried banners of Guadalupe through Mexico City following the defeat of General Victoriano Huerta in 1914. our “revered mother. Tepeyac had long served as a pilgrimage site for various Earth goddesses referred to collectively as Tonantzin. 1980. the rights of native populations. pre-Colombian Earth goddesses.Virgin of Guadalupe Further Reading Evans-Pritchard. Muti Killings. she asks Juan Diego to tell the bishop of Mexico. cults of Mary imported by the Spaniards merged with pre-Colombian Earth deities. 1931. the modern nation. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Eileen Jensen and J.
On the contrary.
James A. Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol. in rebellion against the ethos of excess. Cambridge. the sun. and temperance. Frugality is a middle way that struggles against both overconsumption by the afﬂuent and underconsumption by the poor. Judaism. Frugality is an Earthafﬁrming and enriching norm that delights in the lessconsumptive joys of the mind and ﬂesh. “the time of new beginnings and the rebirth of the sun” is the time of Guadalupe’s feast and celebration and a dawn song. Rodriguez. “Toward the Revival and Reform of the Subversive Virtue: Frugality. Confucianism. seeking a greater thriving of all life together by sparing and sharing global goods.1704
Virtues and Ecology in World Religions
Chavez and the United Farm Workers beginning in the 1960s. Hinduism. sufﬁciency. according to its advocates. The Business of Consumption: Environmental Ethics and the Global Economy. Frugality is the virtue of economic constraint – a standard of excellence for both character formation and social transformation in necessary interaction. Interpreters argue that it can be ethically justiﬁed. and future generations – of their due. AZ: University of Arizona Press. These excesses are unfair and unsustainable. Mayan Protestantism. In this setting. especially the enhanced lives for human communities and other creatures that only constrained production and consumption can make possible on a ﬁnite planet. D. as a rational response to economic maldistribution and ecological degradation. Mayan Catholicism. to speak of a uniform “green” religious virtue ethic would be to deny the varied contexts of religious belief and practice that continue to give these virtues their full meaning. other species. minimal harm. Hinduism. Islam. not bound to particular religious confessions. thrift. Laura and Patricia H. Contemporary Latina/o theologians claim that both images and ﬁestas demonstrate Guadalupe’s clear connection to nature. It connotes moderation. seeking the good of others in response to their needs. thus championing both native peoples and the land. and Confucianism we can see the various types of green virtue ethics. Werhan. Daybreak on December 12. Buddhism. and compassion. Tucson. Frugality. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Faith and Empowerment among Mexican-American Women. frugality is not generally a world-denying asceticism. frux. humility. For its fans. James. Frugality is regularly defended as a universal norm. and Daoism. Christianity.
Frugality Under a number of names. UK: Cambridge University Press. and excess in the wastes and contaminants we return to it. Goddesses – History of. eds. the word’s Latin root. Recent adaptations in religious attitudes toward nature to a large degree involve changes in the perception and cultivation of virtues as well. frugality has been a prominent moral norm and practice in all the great religious traditions. A. Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition Across Five Centuries. Mary in Latin America. Mesoamerican Deities. Jeanette. Islam. and nature surround Guadalupe. religious environmentalists highlight the ecological import of traditional traits of character. TX: University of Texas Press. 2001. Our Lady of Guadalupe remains a contested symbol – standing at different points in history for conquest as well as indigenous rights. including Buddhism. Poole. stars. 1995. prodigality – or excess in the goods humans take from the Earth. Contrary to some stereotypes. It demands careful conservation. Lanham. is an antidote to a cardinal vice of the age. Maya Religion (Central America). 1998. The proﬂigate take more than their due. comprehensive recycling. and product durability. for Earth goddesses and nature as well as the power of the nation-state. Las Mañanitas is sung to her (Rodriguez 1994: 147). Austin.
. Stafford. These traditions often have interpreted frugality as an expression of love or its equivalent – that is. However. Judaism. frugality is a necessary condition of justice and sustainability. See also: Dirt. deﬁnes its essential character: fruitfulness and joyfulness.
Virtues and Ecology in World Religions
Virtues (commonly understood as excellences of character acquired through self-cultivation) play a role in all major world religions – even as ideals of personal cultivation differ signiﬁcantly from tradition to tradition. moon. Across the board. frugality is the subversive virtue. 1994. See also: Ecofeminism (various).” The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics (1995). Lois Ann Lorentzen Further Reading Brading. apart from appeals to privileged revelations. Numerous contemporary Chicana artists now depict Guadalupe in ways that link her to pre-Colombian Earth goddesses. material efﬁciency. By examining relationships between the virtues and ecological awareness in Christianity. and thereby deprive others – poor people. such as moderation. In popular religious images. 1531–1797. Westra.A. Nash
Further Reading Nash. MD: Rowman and Littleﬁeld.
Rather than hope for the salvation of human souls only. While largely remaining within this traditional framework. Even responsible stewards may fail. Changes range from simple extensions to radical innovations of meaning. aggression. Conﬂicts of interest they will approach with prudence.g. they changed into qualities of character ﬁtting the ﬂourishing of persons-within-ecocommunities in which the immanent Spirit of God is made manifest. cruelty (including animal abuse).Virtues and Ecology in World Religions Virtue and Ecology in Christianity In 1976. they may practice sensuousness in order to attend properly to this world – following a recast model of Jesus as a teacher with an eye for illustrations drawn from animal and plant life. legal traditions. belongs to. Since then. Dieter Hessel).g.. again ultimately underscores the believer’s respect for God. and cultural practices. Ecofeminists and those who follow Lynn White’s line of reasoning have leveled the same criticism against Islam as against Christianity and Judaism: its belief in a transcendent God and its elevation of humans as the viceregents of
.g. are concrete instances of such charity. Elizabeth Dodson Gray). Following the commandment not to destroy (bal tashchit). demonstrated every Sabbath by refraining from nature-altering activities. Some go further and draw on Jewish mystical traditions (Kabbalah) that do allow full-blown reverence for the Divine Presence in creation (e. which is based on scripture (Qur’an). Jewish scholars typically respond that a covenantal life actually inspires humility and awe before God’s marvelous works. Virtue and Ecology in Judaism From the rich array of Jewish scripture. Eric Katz). in which each species forms a community designed to live harmoniously with all other communities. Thus. follows from. Francis’ model of humility. modern scholars of Islam have begun to identify ecologically relevant virtues. Critics also say that Jewish anti-paganism prevents appropriate reverence for nature. respon-
sible stewards will be caring and compassionate. historian Lynn White charged that the environmental crisis will only be reverted if Christians exchange their arrogant attitudes toward nature for St. Virtue and Ecology in Islam Although Islamic ethics is especially known for its tradition of law (Shari ‘ah).. Each other virtue (fadilah). following the commandments of the Torah. From qualities of character marking a person’s journey to an other-worldly salvation. This covenant bond is especially served by gratitude. Respect for the basic needs of others requires vigilant control (jihad) over destructive “lower” desires. beneﬁcence toward any creature takes on meaning as an act of devotion by which the believer treats God’s family well. They will also be in the habit of exercising personal restraint. Today. and the work of great thinkers such as Al-Ghazali (1058–1111). The most radical critics suggest that Christians look outside their tradition toward Eastern and indigenous religions for alternative models of ecological self-cultivation (e. Others question whether personal transformation can be thorough enough as long as Christians continue to see themselves as managers of creation (e. they will be averse to vandalism (including speciﬁcally the wanton destruction of fruit trees). Arthur Green). Judaism has been charged with promoting arrogance by putting humans in charge of the Earth. They must be able to admit mistakes and repent for their shortcomings. they may humbly accept their place in the web of earthly relations. in return. stories. keeping in mind the suffering of all living beings (tza’ar ba’alei chayim). the example and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (Hadith).. insofar as they beneﬁt human and nonhuman communities.. they may try to relearn spontaneity. As a result. and repentance for failure. those who interpret the environmental crisis as a sign of covenantal breakdown ﬁnd new signiﬁcance in these traditional virtues (e. Entrusted with those gifts. The willingness to make such personal sacriﬁces for the common good. Planting and sowing. They stress the need for complementary social analysis and organized efforts to transform institutions (e. and wastefulness. Christians may now hope (even against all odds) for the liberation of all creation. it must look after creation. Joanna Macy). The Jewish community has received many blessings from the transcendent Creator of the universe. however. And rather than divert their attention away from the physical details of this world (contemptus mundi). new environmental challenges with love of learning.. rituals. or is perfected by the Muslim’s singular commitment to the transcendent Creator and Sustainer of the universe. virtues have played a major role in the greening of Christianity. Ancient blessings for food. Rather than humbly consider themselves at the bottom of an ontological ladder. responsibility. Like Christianity. Muslims look upon creation as the extended family of God. the life of a Muslim should in all aspects be marked by the cultivation of one main virtue: surrender (islam) to God (Allah). either leads up to. and seasonal renewal continue to express appropriate gratitude for the gifts of creation.g. Christian scholars typically respond to this last charge with a warning against the vice of romanticism. a thoroughly reinterpreted and reshufﬂed catalogue of desirable traits is emerging.g. and jealousy. natural beauty. Rather than practice vigilant control of emotions. strengthened annually during the fasting month of Ramadan. especially greed. Some observers doubt whether such attitudinal changes go far enough in addressing ecological problems. virtues emerge as those personal character traits that renew and sustain the chosen people’s covenant relationship with God.
.g.. one will as far as possible avoid slaughtering animals and cutting trees. Hindus seeking self-transcendence must ultimately renounce all aspects of the natural world as illusory (maya) to attain an entirely other-wordly liberation (moksha) from the cycle of life and death. ecological virtue ethic. From the days of classical Confucianism.. an aim perfected in the life of the bodhisattva. Ancient Hindu texts. tranquility (restraint of anger and envy). Virtue and Ecology in Confucianism Virtue (de).E. already stress the importance of compassion for all creatures. For example. understood as self-cultivation following the dao (the Way). for example. Through such personal sacriﬁce (yajna) the environment can be puriﬁed – just as.). the dependence of everything on everything else (pratitya-samutpada). but rather as following the mathematics of complexity (cf. Seyyed Nasr). Thus. Theravada Buddhists tend to do so primarily in expectation of personal release from the suffering inherent in the cycle of life and death (nirvana). Buddhists have long held that those who are mindful of the suffering around them will see the appropriateness of showing compassion to human and nonhuman alike. other traditional virtues are reinterpreted within an expanded doctrine of dharma as the duty to act for the entire ecological community (e.
. Because of these distinct (though complexly intertwined) foci. Stephanie Kaza). According to the doctrine of dependent arising. one can avoid the ecologically harmful effects of these vices. Christopher Chapple). character formation has been understood in relation to the natural world as an attempt to live in harmony with the ever-changing
creation are likely to engender exploitative attitudes toward nature. Buddhism does offer an explicit and scientiﬁcally compatible theory of how the personal practice of virtues affects social and indeed ecological systems. The Indian emperor Asoka (270–232 B. Most scholars stress that a viceregent (khalifa) should be responsible. and argue that such a sacramental world demands human respect. Virtues such as universal respect and ahimsa. and the absence of an enduring self or soul (anatman). and elements that adorn the divine Mother Earth (Devi Vasundhara). they highlight scriptural texts that depict creation as a mosque. however.g. is the main pillar of Confucian ethics. contend that an other-worldly focus on a transcendent and allpowerful God should in fact beneﬁt the environment. by overcoming one’s greed. Mahayana Buddhists may also focus on relieving the suffering of others. a web of new social and ecological connections will emerge. Both ideals require self-cultivation through various forms of meditation and discipline (yoga). For example. as well as the transmigration of souls) will tend to cultivate an attitude of non-injury (ahimsa) toward other living beings. Seshagiri Rao). Living a life of nonviolence in turn requires simplicity (restraint of greed).C. mind and emotions are channeled to enable adaptability to change (impermanence) and awareness of mutual dependence (dependent arising). such as the Gautama Dharmasutra. Yet Buddhist practitioners do cultivate their minds and seek emotional equanimity. Beyond a certain threshold of virtuous people.g. anger. and delusions through understanding their source in self-clinging.1706
Virtues and Ecology in World Religions Virtue and Ecology in Buddhism Buddhist virtue ethics takes its shape from the earliest teachings of the Buddhist monastic community: the universality and inevitability of suffering (dukkha). the ideal of living in mental and bodily harmony with all beings. However. The effects (karma) of a nonviolent lifestyle again extend beyond the human community. Two types of Islamic responses are emerging. Virtue and Ecology in Hinduism Within the multifaceted spectrum of Hindu traditions. Stuart Kauffman). Despite Lynn White’s doubt whether Eastern traditions could change Western attitudes toward nature. Buddhists also teach the need for prevention through an attitude of non-injury (pranatipata-virmana). Some scholars. stands in creative tension with the ideal of self-transcendence. In either case. Both external and internal critics ﬁnd a relative neglect of social ethics in some or all Buddhist traditions. Hindu teachings have helped to shape ecological consciousness in the ﬁrst industrialized nations. insofar as it encourages frugality and deep humility (e. Al-Haﬁz Masri). or as bearing many signs (ayat) of divine grace.. ecosystems. however. the impermanence of everything (anitya).g. as well as the ideal of self-realization (atman moksha) within the context of the oneness of all beings. is famous for constructing hospitals for both people and animals. and truthfulness (satyagraha). Those who practice universal veneration (mindful of the interconnectedness and divinity of all things. the cumulative effects of human virtuous agency should be understood not as a matter of simple addition. Today. They also qualify the implications of divine transcendence (e. conversely. the vices of selﬁshness and willful ignorance cause (karma) environmental ravage (e. each person’s way of being and acting in the world affects every other aspect of the world. Many observers have noted the remarkable ﬁt between these basic Buddhist attitudes and an ecological worldview (e. indeed toward all species. In addition to seeking relief of suffering. However. their efforts at being virtuous cannot be understood in any strict sense as self-cultivation. Moreover. Hindu traditions offer both rich resources and signiﬁcant challenges for a this-worldly. against the backdrop of India’s serious environmental problems. now also guide many Western people of nonIndian descent. seen as a divine unity (Vasudeva/Brahman).g.. Insofar as Buddhists deny the existence of a self.
compassion. Religions of the World and Ecology [Series]. Cassell Publishers. Bibliography on East Asian Religion and Philosophy. MA: Harvard University Press. Donald Blakeley). Frequently the (cosmic. Ideas that attribute sacred qualities to mountains. “Neo-Confucian Cosmology. World Wide Fund for Nature. Tucker. which depends heavily on speciﬁc contexts of belief.Vodou dynamism (qi) of Heaven and Earth. often by ritual means and sacriﬁces. 37–49. James T.. White. and vice versa) are rare and most likely to occur in Christian circles. Nash. being reassessed as a virtue. Cambridge. husband–wife. Concluding Observations The following general patterns characterize the relationship between the cultivation of virtue and ecological awareness in Judaism. many observers agree that. deference. various modern scholars (e. Buddhism. plants and even stones. Some note the many uneasy compromises within Confucianism between general teachings and speciﬁc (often pre-Confucian ritual) cultural practices (e. Voluntary Poverty. and Extensive Benevolence. Explorations in Global Ethics: Comparative Religious Ethics and Interreligious Dialogue. And insofar as people are children of Heaven and Earth. Mary Evelyn and John Grim. and wisdom. See also: Environmental Ethics. Twiss and Bruce Grelle. Confucian hierarchalism may also conﬂict with ecologically attuned self-cultivation. Mary Evelyn Tucker) have identiﬁed Confucian tradition as a rich resource for environmental ethics. considering the tradition’s deep-seated holism. generosity. 4) Certain virtues emerge so frequently and universally that they may be considered part of a crosscultural catalogue of ecological virtues. their implications reach into the nonhuman world as well. Boulder. Critical observers have wondered whether Confucian virtue ethics (like any other religious virtue ethics) may be greener on paper than in practice – a question complicated by the current absence of recognizable institutions to facilitate and represent such practice. and especially to the peaks of volcanoes. mythological) mountain is the chosen image of analogy between the macro and the micro per-
. as all are one body sharing the vitality of qi. 3) Radical changes (e.g. James A. righteousness (yi). Kusumita P. CO: Westview Press. and the four main human virtues of humaneness (ren). who seeks to live in accordance with the Mandate of Heaven (tian-ming). However. All in all. frugality. Accordingly. and Environmental Philosophy.
One aspect of the cultural appropriation of nature is the religious appropriation of volcanoes. Christianity. Trees in Haitian Vodou. 5) Across the world religions.g. it contains signiﬁcant potential for guiding people toward more ecological ways of being.
– See Drumming. such as sensuousness. As part of nature. these virtues are more similar
in their outward effects on the environment than in their broader signiﬁcance. 1992. propriety (li). a traditional vice. and Confucianism. Louke van Wensveen Further Reading Blakeley. Lewiston. plants and animals provide helpful analogies for self-cultivation. friend–friend.” Journal of Religious Ethics 26:1 (1998).g. 71–103. it can be traced in myths and oral traditions and can be observed in ritual practices. 1991. Donald N. World Religions and Ecology Series. 2) Adjustments often involve extending the reach of virtuous acts to nonhuman entities. Hinduism. While the four main virtues and their derivatives are ﬁrst and foremost understood to guide ﬁve spheres of human relationships (parent–child. the dynamism of yin-yang cosmology. Indigenous Religious and Cultural Borrowing. are familiar to many cultures worldwide. eds. Pedersen. NeoConfucian thinkers of the Song and Ming dynasties already suggested that humaneness (ren) includes consideration (shu) for animals. eds. humility. The colossal threats and blessings emerging from volcanic activities are made meaningful through cognition and active processes of practical engagement.. “Buddhist Virtue. Tu Weiming.” Philosophy in the Contemporary World 8:2 (Fall–Winter 2001). respect. 1) Across the spectrum. This is illustrated in textual and visual imagery. and adeptness in living. Virtue Ethics. 1998. gentleness. 1997–2004.. Islam. Lynn – Thesis of. Mountains. “Environmental Ethics in Interreligious Perspective. Donald K. Religious Environmentalist Paradigm. it is ﬁtting for them to show ﬁliality and self-restraint toward nature. ruler–minister). 2001. namely: gratitude.” In Sumner B. caring. Nashville. and wisdom (zhi) all have cosmological components. TN: Abingdon Press. volcanoes provide various metaphors for religion. older– younger siblings. NY: Edwin Mellen Press. Bretzke. Swearer. Religious Studies and Environmental Concern. Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility. the exercise of proper reciprocal relations with “the myriad things” is central to the Confucian conception of the exemplary person (junzi). the ecological import of traditional virtues is assessed and highlighted. and the appreciation for spontaneity. Umbanda.
The mandate for political authority was connected with the role of the ruler as divine mediator with the whole living universe. considered in gender categories. In despair she killed herself. goat or sheep.1708
Volcanoes often accompanied by local dances. Popocatepetl was an Aztec warrior who was in love with Iztaccihuatl. mixed with mbege (local beer) and sale (holy yukka plant leaf ) for the mizimu (spirits). Due to such analogies of nature and societies. lying on her back. she ﬂung herself into a dark crevasse in the ice cap. Today the people of Pueblo worship the saint San Gregoria Chino by bringing their offerings such as ﬂowers and fruits to the slopes of Popocatepetl. prayers and all kinds of ritual activities. such as the myth about Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl in Mexico. and a wicked female cook in the monastery of þykkvabæjarklaustur. close to Kilimanjaro. whilst their corpses were buried normally. the more active and dangerous a volcano is. They are considered spiritually endowed as they are seen as sites where gods and ancestor spirits dwell. These gods and spirits take active part in human affairs. Their blood was poured into the volcanoes. a small goat is ripped apart with bare hands. such as in Nigeria or Indonesia where some clans sacriﬁced boys or girls aged around 15 to the mountain spirits. One story in the Icelandic Eyrbyggja Saga tells of Katla. In this context it is important to note that supernatural explanations of natural events do not only legitimize but can also delegitimize political power. Beyond that. the more elaborate are the sacriﬁcial ceremonies. In the Vesuv region. Although it is important to note that volcanic eruptions are conceptualized. she avenges her fate by pouring ﬁre and water onto the nearby regions. according to tales. changeable contexts. The Chagga in Tanzania used to hold great ceremonies on the top of the mountain Kifunika. according to the kinship and political organization of the local population. Thus. a volcano located in Southern Iceland. Sometimes they are determined. including the symbolic basis of human perceptions of nature and natural disasters. in almost all regions. In most studies of contemporary natural disasters. Volcanoes are believed to be the foci of magical power and supernatural forces. Iztaccihuatl was mistakenly informed that Popocatepetl had been killed. the mythology of their origin is often connected with love or war stories. and as a consequence the ruler lost his power. After killing a shepherd who had stolen some of her magic trousers. Asia and Latin America. where they threw living ﬁsh caught in the river Tiber in the ﬁre to calm down Vulcanus. who was later treated as equivalent to Hephaistos. Frequently volcanoes are anthropomorphized. At times. In general. research includes neither the interpretations of the affected people nor the symbolic and religious meanings in the context of their lives and worldviews. Fish sacriﬁces are still today a usual practice at the volcano Lewotobi perempuan on the Island Flores in Indonesia. Either they give blessing and fertility or they destroy by volcanic eruptions. volcanoes are. Examining the two volcanoes one will notice in Iztaccihuatl the shape of a woman. Occasionally women or witches are treated as equivalent to volcanoes and are seen as responsible for an eruption. In Tanzania the Maasai at Oldonyo Lengai worship the god Engai (the last elaborate ceremony with about 100 participants took place during an eruption in 1983) in offering him sheep and goats. either male or female. the Roman people celebrated every year on 23 August a festival called Volcania. there are almost exactly the same stories told by people in different parts of the globe that create parallel worlds. structured and negotiated in multiple. natural disasters often are not explained by natural causes alone but are traced back to incorrect conduct of human beings. as natural seismographs for social harmony or disharmony. awe-inspiring and destructive forces. the god of the ﬁre. the emperor’s daughter. eternally watching over her. This is the case for reports about giants or ghosts. The offerings sacriﬁced vary from region to region and are
. the god of the smiths. these were seen as signs for social injustice and connected to political revolts and upheavals. But disasters like volcanic eruptions must also be seen in terms of how they are perceived and estimated by those affected. If there are two or more volcanoes located next to each other. He built a mound and laid her body on it and vowed that he would never leave her again. among other things. In some regions human sacriﬁce was practiced. Based on the idea that the structure of the cosmos is mirrored in the religio-political realm. At the volcano Lewotobi laki-laki (the last extensive ceremony took place during the eruption in 1992). rulers of ancient Southeast Asian kingdoms constructed their legitimization through mystical connections with volcanoes. Like in many other regions. covered with a white sheet of snow. in many regions of the world volcanoes are seen. during which they offered some pieces of meat and the blood of a cow. he was overcome with grief. But once there were calamities. Ever since. They are sometimes considered as a sign of dissent or conﬂict between the native people or particular clans that provoke the tempers of the ancestors or of the gods. This expresses ambivalent experiences as people feel life-giving qualities in volcanoes as well as powerful. There are many stories in the large collection of Icelandic folktales concerning volcanoes. but occurs rarely and only in secret. seen as mutually constitutive. When Popocatepetl returned and found Itzaccihuatl dead. While Popocatepetl was at war. morality and social conduct. and there are close associations between cosmos. At her feet stands Popocatepetl.
spective. the practice of sacriﬁce did not disappear completely after Christianization. in Africa. there are certain similarities in the ways in which nature is constructed as parallel to human society.
William D. eds.” Anthropos 91 (1996). as in Indonesia on the Island Flores at the volcano Inerie. Political Appropriation of Nature in Flores. the ﬁre goddess. Violence in Indonesia. The word “Pele” has been used with three distinct deﬁnitions by the old Hawaiians: Pele. their lovers or husbands.
Occasions of political and social conﬂict in Indonesia are often accompanied by debates about volcanic activity. Every year a ceremony is conducted by the members of the Sultan’s palace in order to pacify the destructive power of the spirits residing in the crater. This explanation of their descent – from “spirits of the volcano” – is common to inhabitants of many regions in the world. but also by the oppressed. the symbolic discourse on the Merapi can be instrumentalized not only by the rulers to justify themselves. who is the grandchild of Rongge and Ranggo the ancient ancestors of the village Moni. Reykjavik: VakaHelgafell. a volcano or ﬁre-pit in any land. Judith. also sometimes called api nereka (ﬁres of damnation). He regularly holds big parties there and tries to take human women as prisoners. 391–409. The ceremony acts as a reminder about a mythological promise that the country will always be protected against Merapi’s eruptions because the ruler of the volcano realm will never send the lava toward the Sultan’s palace in the nearby city of Yogyakarta. the Kelimutu is the home of the ebu nusi (ancestral spirits) and nitu (natural spirits).Volcanoes sitting inside the volcano and cooking meals for the neighbor mountains.” In Ingrid Wessel and Georgia Wimhöfer. The “reactions” of the volcanoes – be these eruptions or color changes – are interpreted by the Florinese as emotional gestures – as expressions of sadness or anger about social events – and as a coded symbolism which is of social interest. Many people saw this as a sign that the spirits disapproved of the behavior of Indonesia’s ruling elite. The ﬁrst lake of Kelimutu is called tiwu ata polo (lake of the evil demon) and is the lake in which the “souls” of thieves. Hawai’i. Leiden: KITLV Press 1998. Cosmology and Spirit Classiﬁcation Among the Nage of Eastern Indonesia. Her home was in the great ﬁre-pit of the volcano of Kilauea on the island of Hawai’i. yet comparable in part to the European standard. an eruption of lava. “Volcanoes: Symbolic Places of Resistance. Mayan Spirituality and Conservation. Urte Undine. For inhabitants of the volcano’s vicinity. Pele. Trausti. “Reinterpretations of Mystical Traditions: Explanations of a Volcanic Eruption in Java. Old Indonesian religious concepts remain nonetheless extremely signiﬁcant. VT: C. in the direction of Yogyakarta. Pele. and in Iceland on the Island Heimaey at the volcano Hekla. Ari. This religio-political meaning is well known for the very active “high risk volcano” Mount Merapi in Central Java. Westervelt. Rutland. Schooling throughout Indonesia – including the outer islands – has disseminated a knowledge of volcanoes that is indeed limited. The ruler of the Kelimutu is the volcanic spirit Konde. Indonesia. murderers and practitioners of “black magic” land after their death. Schlehe.
. 270–81. See also: Aztec Religion – pre-Colombian. Sacred Mountains. primarily by iron oxidization. The frequent color changes of the crater lakes are caused by mineral reactions. Maasai (Tanzania). Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes. There are numerous stories about Pele who has long been the ﬁre-goddess of the Hawaiians. Hamburg: Abera. and the third lake tiwu ata bupu (lake of very old men) is the lake in which the “souls” of elderly people land after their death. But in 1994 for the ﬁrst time an eruption turned to the south. Frömming.E. Tuttle. 1996. Thus. The Kelimutu in East Indonesia is a complex volcano with three crater lakes of different colors. Judith Schlehe Urte Undine Frömming Further Reading Forth. 1963. Delphic Oracle. Volcanoes in Iceland. Beneath the Volcano: Religion. Gregory L. 2001. The second lake tiwu koö fai (lake in perpetual motion) is the lake in which the “souls” of deceased children land. Konde lives on Kelimutu in a village that looks like Moni.