The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature
David Wulff in the
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2007)
"If ever there was a reference work that belongs in the personal libraries of scholars of religion, this one is it. It is presumably available by now in most reputable academic and public libraries; but given the extraordinary richness of its diverse and often unanticipated entries, and the urgency of the ecological issues that many of them address, this collection of well-written and often engrossing essays should be kept readily at hand for frequent and sustained browsing. This work most obviously provides a detailed overview of the broad field of religion and nature as it has been shaped in recent decades by a diversely trained group of international scholars and a remarkable array of dedicated practitioners. At the same time, these essays together constitute a veritable liberal education in the natural, cultural, political, and religious histories of the world as they have become interwoven with one another through the centuries. For any scholar of religion who cares about the worldwide ecological crisis we face — should that not be all of us?--these volumes will be of great interest. For the researcher who hopes to illuminate it still further and to work toward its amelioration, they will be essential reading.
… If this ambitious work may be said to have an intellectual core, it lies in a series of essays that lay down the field's conceptual foundations…
Finally — though this listing of contents is far from exhaustive — there are articles that one might not expect to find in an encyclopedia on religion and nature but that nonetheless prove to be relevant: Autobiography, Channeling, Complexity Theory, Dirt, Disney, Fascism, Fly Fishing, Globalization, Homosexuality, Media, Men's Movement, Motion Pictures, Mountaineering, Music, Perennial philosophy, Raves, Rock Climbing, Sauna, Scouting, Surfing, and Theme Parks. These entries, along with a much larger number of far more esoteric ones, underscore the value of browsing through these volumes rather than merely consulting them on specific topics…
Taylor has established a website in conjunction with this project, www.religionandnature.com, which is intended to provide information about various events and organizations — including the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, which was founded in September, 2006 — and to promote teaching and research in the area of religion and nature…
We may hope that these resources will draw more social scientists into the field of religion and nature. Short of that, the encyclopedia could by itself do much to extend their understanding of what religion and spirituality may be thought to be — yet another reason to keep these remarkable volumes close at hand."
Tony Watling in
Journal of Contemporary Religion 22/2 (2007): 283-87
"…The ERN is intended to assess, analyse, characterise, and promote the major debates, events, figures, groups, theories, and traditions, concerned with religion and nature, enlightening the wider (academic) public to them, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and promoting further research. It demarcates a territory, an emerging (and evolving) discipline, analysing as wide a representative sample of it as it can, using a scholarly focus that, it argues, is not always seen to be in evidence in the subject. In this it succeeds. It is an intensive academic work, diverse and deep. Yet it is also eminently readable and very enlightening. Each article may stand on its own as a valuable essay, but taken together, the articles provide a comprehensive examination and introduction to the themes that will stand for years to come.
While available (greatly) discounted on the internet, the ERN is a serious investment—at least for individuals, it is an essential reference work for libraries and universities and maybe also environmental or religious organisations. However, despite this, the ERN is an outstanding piece of work, very ambitious, meticulously researched, hugely detailed, very comprehensive, and highly informative and important. It will make an outstanding and valuable tool for anyone interested or working in anthropology, philosophy or sociology of religion, religious or environmental studies. I thoroughly recommend it."
Graham Harvey in Worldviews 11 (2007): 124-33
"Every reader has his or her own interests and will find something of great value here. Student essays ought to be greatly improved not only by the wealth of data provided, but also by the different examples set in "how to write academically". More advanced scholarship will find not only a ready reference on myriad topics but also provocation of new thoughts, arguments and research. Great foundations are laid here for all kinds of scholarship. Religiously and environmentally motivated people will also find inspiration here for further thought and engagement.
If it is hard to know how to review an encyclopedia’s entries, it is simple enough to assess the whole work’s value. The collaborative effort of a community of scholars interested in diverse approaches to a topic usefully delimited as "religion and nature", their ability to cite an expanding bibliography of existing debate, and their demonstration that further debate is worthwhile, all demonstrate that The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature comes at the right time and will greatly enhance scholarly activity in discrete disciplines and in truly inter-disciplinary dialogues. Even those who have never thought about "religion and nature" before but who are interested in either "religion" or "nature" (whatever those terms might mean, alone or together) will find this work invaluable."
Alastair McIntosh in Ecos: Journal of the British Association of
Nature Conservationists 27/1 (2006): 116-17
"This is, by any scholarly standards, a ground-breaking and awe-inspiring piece of work – a ecological summa theologica for our times…
Sadly, the inevitable cost of an opus like this will put it beyond the personal pocket of many scholars and practitioners. But consider sending your librarian the website link at www.religionandnature.com. Consider it as a gift option for that special colleague who’s had an office whip round. Damn it … bust the bank and consider it for yourself, because no other work in print more fully lays out the established field of knowledge that now comprises religion and nature."
Anne Marie Dalton and Nancie Erhard in
Ecotheology 11/2 (2006): 233-248
"This is the first Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Its publication, therefore, is in itself a truly significant event. . . It is historic because it documents a new field of study; this is an exploration of religion and nature but in the light of the ecological crisis as it came more vividly into human consciousness in the mid-twentieth century…
The Encyclopedia begins with an introduction … elucidating discussion of the large territory of (often) contested meanings claimed by the terms ‘nature’ and ‘religion’; an overview of a few major developments leading up to the late twentieth century interest in religion and nature; and a briefer piece on what the future for religion and nature might be. The discussion of definitions is useful in orientating the reader to the fact that the several definitions of both ‘nature’ and ‘religion’ as well as ‘nature religion’ are operative in the entries that follow. Such distinctions as ‘the natural dimension of religion’ and ‘religions that consider nature to be sacred’ (p. x) can alert one to some important assumptions that differ from one entry to another .
…Unique features of this encyclopedia include two kinds of entries not found in others. While most of the entries are scholarly entries such as one would find in any encyclopedia, there are also scholarly perspectives, denoted by SP, and practitioner entries, denoted by P. Examples of SP entries are ‘Thomas Berry on Religion and Nature’ (pp. 166-68), Bron Taylor’s ‘Disney Worlds at War’ (pp. 488-93), and J. David Bleich’s ‘Vegetarianism and Judaism’ (pp. 1693-95)… . Examples of P entries include Leona Klippstein’s account of the Spirit of the Sage Council which works to ‘preserve sage scrub habitats wherever they occur’ (p. 1592), … and Will Keepin’s exploration of ‘Breathwork’ across several religious traditions and its relationship to nature consciousness (pp. 214-17).
…Articles such as the overview of the major religions, the extensive treatment of paganism and related topics, entries on ecofeminism, and the extremely interesting variety of entries from Africa, Asia and indigenous people from around the world represent the best of the scholarship available on these subjects. Other topics will be less frequented perhaps, but there is a certain delight in just coming across over two pages on ‘Elephants’ (pp. 584-88) or an entry on ‘Redwood Rabbis’ (p. 1352).
The Encyclopedia is an extremely helpful tool for beginners as it is quite accessible to undergraduates and the generally educated. With its specialized topics, broad scope, bibliographies on many topics, and special features it is useful for more advanced scholars as well. "
Roger Gottileb in Tikkuun 19/5 (2004): 77-80
"…The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature covers the entire field with, well, encyclopedic scope. Comprising two very large volumes, 1.5 million words, and a hefty price tag, the ERN is not the kind of thing most people will pick up and read from cover to cover. However, it is a breathtakingly valuable, truly multicultural reference work, indispensable for libraries, religious institutions, and environmental organizations… . The ERN’s editors have cast a very wide net, interpreting “nature” to include all aspects of contemporary environmentalism and ecology and “religion” to encompass a wide variety of moral, political, social, aesthetic, and traditional perspectives. Many of the contributors are themselves highly distinguished "