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Earthing spiritual literacy: how to link spiritual development and education to a new Earth consciousness?

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This article discusses the development of spiritual literacy in relation to a new consciousness of the Earth and what Thomas Berry calls 'Earth literacy'. It draws on the metaphor of 'earthing' to argue for a close link between spiritual literacy and Earth literacy, considered of great importance for both personal spiritual development and the further evolution of humanity. The universe story, Earth story and human story are intimately interconnected when the whole planet and all life are understood as a vast eco-system linked to philosophical and spiritual dimensions. Reference is made to the deep ecology movement of Arne Naess and his ecosophy as well as other movements and writers that bring together very practical environmental concerns with deeply spiritual issues. This leads to a discussion of a global, dynamic vision of education, the meaning of religious pluralism, the existence of a 'dialogical imperative' and the need to draw on global spiritual energy resources to feed the zest for life, so essential for the flourishing of all peoples and the planet. The last section includes a brief discussion of The Earth Charter (2000) and of resources for teaching on religion and ecology. In the Conclusion it is argued that the idea of developing spiritual literacy in conjunction with Earth literacy can be called a pneumatophore - an idea that is a bearer of spirit that can kindle spiritualities for the life of the human community on Earth.
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Keywords: Earth Charter; Earth literacy; GreenSpirit movement; deep ecology; dialogical imperative; global education; interspirituality; noosphere; pneumatophors; spiritual literacy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK,Department of the Study of Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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