Friday, November 27, 2009

Spirituality, Religion, and Sustainability - "Renewal"

The film "Renewal" will likely appeal to just about everybody, because it addresses the way in which three major religions are incorporating environmental topics into their services. I could not find the whole video on the Internet. For clips, one can click here - or here

I must admit that I was distracted by the sustainable meal that was being served during the film and did not catch much of what was said by the Muslims or Christians, but I was attentive to what was being done at the Teva Learning Center, which is a program that teaches Jewish children about sustainability. My mother is Jewish, and of any of the religions discussed, it is the one I would most likely want to practice.

Regarding the Jewish children, it was funny to me to see them at this camp for the environment. It almost made me wish I had been a part of something like that. I also thought it was funny because I used to go to a summer camp with a theme of Judaism, and it reminded me of that a little bit. Essentially, the counselors at Teva were trying to show the children their connection to nature and God. Thus they took them into forested areas and had them think critically and showed them awe-inspiring naturally sites, such as the cliff-scene from the first video clip I linked to above. Another practice that they incorporated was the "pishtolet," which was the collection of food waste after a meal and weighing it. I am not sure if that's how you spell the word, I checked here , which is the actual website of Teva, but to no avail. The goal of this activity, however, was to have as little waste as possible and make the students aware of how much food they take and throw away.

After watching the film, the class also discussed the eating restrictions of Muslims and Jews, or Halal and Kosher, respectively. Kosher eating has always fascinated me, similar to Halal, Kosher laws involve killing animals in a way that is not harmful to them, and facing them in a sacred direction during the process. A holy man blesses the animal. Kosher also can apply to other foods beside meat, in which case I believe it involves blessing of the food and preparing it without additives and with a process that prevents any kind of contamination.

I am not a religious person, but I am glad that religions are becoming involved in protecting the environment and promoting sustainability. This at least will spread the message through an important medium. I am also fascinated by Judaism and am glad that it is incorporating these messages, and I see how nature is very relevant to Jewish practices.

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