Reading Nature Religiously

Cultivating Environmental Virtue through Lectio Divina

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
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  • 1 Ithaca College

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Our ability to live well depends not only on what we do, but also on who we are. With respect to human-land relationships, we need to become more virtuous. And virtue is cultivated through practice. This paper transforms classical spiritual reading practices into a means of cultivating environmental virtue. Lectio divina is a longstanding practice for reading scripture religiously, motivated by a desire to come to a deeper understanding of and richer relationship with the sacred dimensions of experience. I describe an adaptation of lectio divina suitable for reading nature religiously and offer two illustrations. By reading nature religiously, we may develop environmental virtues, becoming more attentive, more thoughtful, more committed, more reverent, and more humble as we encounter the natural world. This model of a practice for cultivating environmental virtue enriches an essential aspect of environmental ethics, enhancing our prospects for attaining human and ecological flourishing.

  • 4

    See also Griffiths (2002).

  • 5

    See also Casey (1995), McGinn (1994, 135), Leclercq (1985, 419), and Leclercq (1982, 120).

  • 6

    Also see Chase (2011).

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