The interfaith ecology movement

2017-01-31T04:30:38Z (GMT) by Rider , Elyse Joanne
The multicultural city of Melbourne, situated in the ecologically vulnerable state of Victoria, Australia, provides the research context for this qualitative study of the ‘interfaith ecology movement.’ This emerging New Social Movement under globalisation brings together the themes of religion, diversity, environmentalism and peace. It is situated at the intersection of the contemporary interfaith dialogue and the environment movements. This research is an ethnographic exploration of the fledgling cultural forms, structures, practices, motivations and challenges of this global grassroots community movement as it develops. The ecophilosophical position of panpsychism provides the ethical, epistemological and ontological framework for this research. It informs the principles of the research methodology through which the eco-spiritual themes as well as the social, cultural and interpersonal relationships that characterise the interfaith ecology movement are explored. Research was carried out between 2007 – 2010 primarily through engaging community groups and organisations working on interfaith ecology themes into Participatory Action Research projects and activities. This study discloses aspects of Australia’s subtle and elusive spirituality, as well as local postcolonial and ecological identity politics at play with cosmopolitan spiritual and ecological experiences and identities. This study is therefore broadly relevant to the contemporary context of civic participation, environmental action and spiritual exploration under globalisation. Through its organisations and projects, the interfaith ecology movement generates both inspiration and friction as participants navigate each other’s differences in the complex process of project planning and practical action. Often hampered by cross-purposes in the development stages, these projects frequently reach a creative synergy, bridging the divides between participants. Perpetual learning and compromise characterises the practice of the movement as participants bear witness to the surfacing of an authentic dialogue of difference in the often muddy waters of social, spiritual and ecological change.