SUSTAINABILITY, VALUES AND QUALITY OF LIFE WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

In: Philosophia Reformata
Author: Martine Vonk
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Our consumption and production patterns lead to an increasing pressure on the environment. These patterns are not just accidental, but are rooted in worldviews, including ideas what constitutes quality of life and how mankind should relate to nature. This article presents the results of a study on the worldview, values and behavioral patterns of four religious communities: Amish, Hutterites, Franciscan and Benedictine communities, in order to investigate whether and in what way their values and principles may lead to an impact on the environment and a structure that helps to maintain their quality of life. These communities appear to base their choices not so much on environmental values, but on values such as community, stability, moderation, humility or modesty, the rhythm of life, and reflection. In many cases, these values lead to behavioral choices with a relatively low environmental impact, while they also contribute to their preferred quality of life. In order to enhance sustainability and quality of life in Western society, we may be challenged by three principles: focus on quality instead of quantity, community building, and a process of reflective change. This study about four religious communities has brought to light values that might still connect to ideas about quality of life rooted in broader Western society, and may stimulate a reflective change towards a sustainable development with a lower impact on the environment.

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