Religious Dimension of Sustainable Development

Luis Gutierrez LTG214B at VERIZON.NET
Mon Jan 7 21:02:27 UTC 2008

The Vol. 4, No. 1, January 2008 issue of the Solidarity, Sustainability,
and Non-Violence (SSNV) Research Newsletter has been posted.  The theme
this month is: "Religious Dimension of Sustainable Development." Note 
the linguistic analysis of Genesis 1, 2, 5.

The link is:

The summary (abstract) is pasted below.  I would be grateful for any
feedback (positive/negative/in-between). Please let me hear from you.

With best wishes for a good 2008,

The theme of the month is "religious dimension of sustainable
development." There is a religious dimension to the United Nations'
"Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs), and there is a religious
dimension to human nature and everything we do. Religion is both
indispensable and dangerous. It is indispensable to attain full human
development beyond the physical, biological, and intellectual levels. It
is dangerous when it degenerates into fanatical delusions about the
absolute superiority of any particular religion, and then leads to
religious intolerance and religious violence.

Many consider religion to be a controversial topic. But, after millennia
of misconceptions about religion, we now have scientific evidence
(initially via the Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung) that religion is
essential for human beings to become fully human. This being the case,
our 2007 analyses of the MDGs is incomplete as long as some insight of
the religious influences on the implementation of the MDGs is not
provided. A difficult subject, but it cannot be avoided.

In particular, religion is often an incentive (positive or negative) for
the transition from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and human
development. Granted that financial gain (or loss) will probably remain
as the key incentive for people to change behavior during our lifetime,
futures research entails considering all conceivable possibilities. For
instance, Abraham Lincoln once stated: "When I do good, I feel good;
when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion." Lincoln's "religion"
many not qualify as religion in some quarters, but it points to the fact
that, deep in the human psyche, there is the voice of conscience; the
voice of God who abides in us but is bigger than us.

After a brief summary of the MDGs (or "MDGs+1" when religious
development is considered), evidence is presented that a cultural
transition is needed to support both social justice and environmental
justice at all levels. This cultural transition will entail changes in
human behavior that often cannot be accomplished even when there are
financial incentives. Indeed, it is hard to imagine any such transition
happening without incentives that are stronger than financial gain
and/or resources for domination. Since the power of religion as
incentive for changing human behavior (for good or bad) is pervasive, it
seems reasonable to research this angle next. This religious dimension
has not been absent from any of the previous issues of this newsletter,
but now it will become central.

Incentives from a religious perspective are discussed for overcoming
patriarchy and fostering social solidarity, environmental
sustainability, and human development. In considering this material, it
is essential to distinguish between "religion" and "religious
institutions." Authentic religion is the expression of our relationship
with God, and it is "good, good, good." Institutionalized religion can
be "good, bad, or some mix of good and bad." Some specific religious
institutions are mentioned. The intent is never to deny the significant
amount of good done by those institutions. However, nothing human is
above criticism. Religious institutions often need reformations, just
like all other human institutions often need reformations. Some
religious persons may feel uncomfortable. As always, we shall adhere to
the principle of analysis based on objective evidence. Updates of the
SSNV-MDG knowledge taxonomy and links database continue as time permits.
The current version shows the links sorted by mega-disciplines, and
within each mega-discipline by MDGs. This is "work in progress" but you
are cordially invited to take a look at this resource and download it
(free) for your own use (two options: HTML Web Page or EXCEL Spreadsheet).

This month's invited paper is "Two Wings of a Bird: The Equality of
Women and Men," a reflection by the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Baha'is of the United States, published in 1997. The Baha'i religious
tradition emerged in Persia (now Iran) in the 18th century. It is the
first major religious movement that explicitly includes gender equality
as a core belief.

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