Afterlife beliefs and metaphors: Exploring environmental impacts and expanding ecoreligious discourse

Christine Malcolm (2011). Afterlife beliefs and metaphors: Exploring environmental impacts and expanding ecoreligious discourse PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Christine Malcolm
Thesis Title Afterlife beliefs and metaphors: Exploring environmental impacts and expanding ecoreligious discourse
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-07
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Emeritus Professor Philip Almond
Sylvie Shaw
Total pages 372
Total colour pages 11
Total black and white pages 361
Language eng
Subjects 220402 Comparative Religious Studies
Abstract/Summary Afterlife beliefs and metaphors: Exploring environmental impacts and expanding ecoreligious discourse Abstract The field of Religion and Ecology has developed gradually over the past four decades in response to increasing awareness of the serious implications of environmental decline. This thesis explores the relationship between ‘engaged scholarship’ and the emerging Western-inspired and consensus-driven ‘environmental episteme’ that is used as the standard against which to evaluate elements within religious traditions in terms of their assumed environmental impact. Within a postmodern framework, I explore a methodology of ‘discourse expansion’ derived from the work of Johan Galtung and Richard C. Vincent to investigate one of the most contentious aspects of ecoreligious discourse – that of afterlife beliefs and metaphors. I do this by examining all references to afterlife beliefs and metaphors found in the nine volumes of the Harvard Religions of the World and Ecology Series that relate to the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Indigenous Traditions. The attitude of contributors towards the afterlife is subjectively determined, using the loose and overlapping categories of afterlife neutral, critic, reformist, apologist, and rebel. Using the data resulting from this exercise, I compare the role and extent of afterlife references across the nine volumes and develop seven categories of afterlife forms (disintegrating naturally, joining parallel spirit worlds, replacing the body, retaining the body, reviving the body, transferring to otherworlds, and dissolving into bliss). I then examine each of these afterlife forms in terms of their ability to meet the ‘Earth-based’ and ‘everykind-inclusive’ standards of the episteme. I argue that it is more advantageous for ecoreligious discourse to be inclusive of afterlife beliefs and metaphors than it is to attempt to exclude them, and that the exploration of the creative possibilities in the reinterpretation of afterlife beliefs and metaphors has barely begun. The field of Religion and Ecology will best contribute to environmental sustainability by expanding the breadth and depth of its discourse and including the concerns and motivations of religious peoples throughout the world.
Keyword Afterlife, religion, ecology, discourse expansion, environmentalism, multireligious, Harvard Series
Additional Notes Colour pages: 62, 79, 110, 143, 166, 191, 225, 245, 256, 282, 330

 
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Created: Fri, 23 Mar 2012, 18:10:18 EST by Ms Christine Malcolm on behalf of Library - Information Access Service