Title

Big Miracle and Religious Naturalism: Rescuing Myriad Nature from Popular Fantasies of Nature Rescue

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Source Publication

Natural Communions

Publication Date

2019

Editor

Gabriel R. Ricci

Publisher

Routledge

City

New York

Volume

Volume 40

ISBN

9780367231801

First Page

176

Last Page

192

Department

Religious Studies

Description

“Big Miracle” is a film in which humans surmount greed and self-interest to save at-risk nature. It appears that the “miracle” depicted in the film is that so many people with widely divergent interests come together to save whales trapped in the ice near the Alaskan coast. I contend that despite its feel-good quality, the film presents a problematic treatment of nature that re-inscribes popular attitudes toward myriad nature, which, paradoxically, contribute to the degradation of the more-than-human worlds that constitute our being here. In particular, the film reinforces the idea that it is humans’ distinct difference from nature that enables us to save it.

After identifying some of the troubling implications of such a view, I introduce religious naturalism as a capacious religious worldview that helps reframe humans as natural processes in relationship with other forms of nature, and as complex processes of becoming. Drawing on its key theoretical insights, I then advance an emerging eco-spirituality as a fundamental orientation in life. This practice is inspired by an aesthetic-ethical vision that acknowledges the inherent worth of everything alive, i.e., all sentient entities. This eco-spirituality also offers a deeper level of ethical engagement that opposes the facile ethics we see depicted in the film.

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