Choose Life: Deuteronomy and Environmentalism

(Choose Life) Religion scholar and affect theorist Gail Hamner writing on Christian liturgy and ancient Israel, Deuteronomy and environmentalism, alignment, orientation, and sustainability


We just passed the sixth Sunday after Epiphany and I find that the well-known injunction from Deuteronomy—“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live”—falls easily into the slipstream of the review I am organizing for my religion and nature course. My students and I have read snippets of the early part of the US environmentalist tradition from Emerson, Thoreau and Muir, up through Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. The moral take-away of their texts, it seems to me, could be written in the exact same Deuteronomic words.

For many years the odd injunctions and appeals of scripture, particularly the Tanakh, have made a kind of sense to me in terms of vectors and channels. To live well, to live righteously, entails orienting oneself toward THE LORD by orienting oneself toward Torah; it entails not giving way to the channels of one’s own desires or orienting oneself toward dispositions…

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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