Title: What is the significance of scientific-theological reflection on environmental issues for local religious ecological engagement?
Brief description of the context: Both the field of ecotheology(s) and the field of greening of religion are well researched independently. While the former experienced a peak and flowering in the 1980s and then received renewed attention in the last decade, research on the Greening of Religion from a religious studies perspective is currently at a tipping point - after a jubilant reception of Laudato si, interest is again shifting increasingly towards alternative spiritualities.
However, a simultaneous consideration of the two areas is (still) lacking. This paper is a first step in this direction.
Question: Why is there hardly any theological reflection on church engagement in the environmental field? Where do theological research and proclamation of faith break apart? (Why) Is scientific theology not (anymore) communicable?
Aim: With the help of my research I would like to investigate the question of what causes the transmission of theological knowledge to fail in "real life at the local level".
Method: With the help of grounded theory, I break down over 60 interviews with religious actors or religiously interested/informed non-professionals, which I (co-)conducted as part of my last job at the University of Basel.
The work is designed as a cumulative dissertation.
Content: For many decades, (Catholic) theology has been dealing with questions of the religious justification of sustainable action in the context of ecothology. Whether one follows Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Alexandre Ganoczy, Celia Deane-Drummond or others in this regard is almost secondary.
What is not incidental, however, is how little this research is taken up in the temporal context on the one hand, and thus interlocks and builds on each other, and on the other hand how little this debate finds its way into (religious) life "on the ground". The second aspect represents the focus of my research. For even if parishes and other religious units on a small scale do show commitment in the environmental field, a decidedly religious-theological discussion is only very marginal. But this would be exactly the unique selling point of "church" commitment. It even seems as if the "mainstreaming" of scientific-theological thoughts on ecological contexts in recent years is accompanied by a declining interest in them or at least in communicating them "on the ground".
This contrasts with research on the Greening of Religions, which, in simplified terms, assumes that all religions have become increasingly interested in ecological content over time. So far, this research has mostly been normative. Empirical research is hardly available, but if it is, it is preferably quantitative.
I would like to shed light on this ambivalence with my research, as it also emerges in the guided interviews on which this sociological work is based: local church communities are indeed (more or less) engaged in the ecological field, but seem to do so for civil, social or political (i.e. financial) reasons. The question of theological justifications, meanwhile, is not raised.
Timeframe: Submission summer 2023
Participating institutions/persons: Initial supervision Professor Anna Henkel