HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

When God Isn't Green: A World-Wide Journey to Places Where Religious…

by Jay Wexler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2510733,846 (4.27)1
In this lively, round-the-world trip, law professor and humorist Jay Wexler explores the intersection of religion and the environment. Did you know that    * In Hong Kong and Singapore, Taoists burn paper money to appease "hungry ghosts," filling the air with smoke and dangerous toxins?    * In Mumbai, Hindus carry twenty-foot-tall plaster of Paris idols of the elephant god Ganesh into the sea and leave them on the ocean floor to symbolize the impermanence of life, further polluting the scarce water resources of western India?    * In Taiwan, Buddhists practicing "mercy release" capture millions of small animals and release them into inappropriate habitats, killing many of the animals and destroying ecosystems?    * In Central America, palm frond sales to US customers for Palm Sunday celebrations have helped decimate the rain forests of Guatemala and southern Mexico?    * In New York, Miami, and other large US cities, Santeria followers sprinkle mercury in their apartments to fend off witches, poisoning those homes for years to come?    * In Israel, on Lag B'omer, a holiday commemorating a famous rabbi, Jews make so many bonfires that the smoke can be seen from space, and trips to the emergency room for asthma and other pulmonary conditions spike? Law professor and humorist Jay Wexler travels the globe in order to understand the complexity of these problems and learn how society can best address them. He feasts on whale blubber in northern Alaska, bumps along in the back of a battered jeep in Guatemala, clambers down the crowded beaches of Mumbai, and learns how to pluck a dead eagle in Colorado, all to answer the question "Can religious practice and environmental protection coexist?"… (more)
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 1 mention

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book would make a good discussion group book. Each chapter discusses a different religious activity that harms the environment. It brings up excellent questions such as 'What religious activities are more important to you than their consequences?' Things like burning paper money never crossed my mind as potentially harmful (except that I think they should be printed on recycled paper), but the author makes a case worth considering.

I appreciated that the author also focused on attempts to find sustainable solutions that would enable the religious activity to continue with little modification. I also appreciated that many religions were represented.

The book is well-written, had a good copy editor and reads smoothly.

I would strongly recommend this book both to those concerned with ecology and those concerned with religion. ( )
  Helcura | Dec 17, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Boston University School of Law Prof. Jay Wexler examines instances in which religious practices run afoul ecological interests. For example, palm fronds for palm Sunday celebrations causing rain forest damage in Central America. Taoist and Jewish practices of burning joss paper and bonfires respectively causing air pollution and asthma. Hindi celebrators honoring Ganesh carry large plaster of Paris statues into the sea, left on the ocean floor to contribute further to water pollution. Buddhist ‘mercy release’ ceremonies release millions of small animals into inappropriate habitats, killing most and ruining ecosystems.

Wexler spent years traveling around the globe to witness and try to understand the religious and legal issues surrounding these and other practices. He writes in an easy conversational tone, very accessible to the lay reader. I quite enjoyed his “The Odd Clauses” about lesser known and debated clauses of the US Constitution, which could serve as a mini-civics lesson. This book was equally interesting. Ultimately, Wexler supports a collaborative effort between government and religious entities to help preserve the environment. He urges caution with an eye towards the unintentional consequences of regulatory action. As with so much of public policy addressing competing interests, it becomes a balancing act.

In Guatemala, the source of the vast majority of the world’s palm fronds, cooperatives have grown up to support the more costly and time consuming harvesting of the palms. EcoPalms might cost a Congregation $25 to $50 more a year, but mean all the difference to those in Central America doing their best to combat wholesale destruction of the rain forests. My own congregation is now using EcoPalm products and I am encouraging others I know to do the same.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. I am also a graduate of BUSL, although Prof. Wexler came well after I left and I have never met him. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Jan 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm grateful to have received an Early Reviewer copy of this book in February 2016. The fact that it took me ten months to finish it sort of sums up my reaction. It deals with an interesting topic, named in the subtitle - how should public policy deal with situations where religious observance hurts the environment? - but my attention kept sliding away to other books on my pile, and I'm an environmentalist with a legal background.

For anyone interested in these issues, it is worth a read. My tepid reaction stems from two factors that may not bother other folks. First, in a number of the case studies, it is so clear that, while the religious practice certainly has an environmental impact, it is a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to other sources of pollution - factories, cars, patterns of infrastructure and land use. By the later chapters, Wexler explicitly acknowledges this, but returns to the argument that, nonetheless, the religious practices he considers do have impacts, even if they are relatively small. As a full time advocate, though, I found this unconvincing; my colleagues and I are constantly prioritizing time and resources to work on what we think are the worst threats. Poring over hard-to-solve but small problems is a legitimate choice for intellectual stimulation, but I kept finding myself asking, how much of an issue is this really? To be fair, some of the issues Wexler addresses are not small; he makes a strong case that the burning of joss paper and the release of large numbers of non-native animals both have major impacts in some places.

The other part of the book that didn't really work for me was the humor. Wexler frequently seemed to be aiming for a "naive adventurer gets in over his head" vibe, a la Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. For all I know, he may have hit the mark; I don't really get Bryson either. But the voice Wexler takes on to recount his travels felt pretty artificial to me, and a lot less interesting that he must be in real life, given his thoughtful insights when he lets himself really grapple with his subject.

There isn't much of an overarching lesson to draw from the book - just that these conflicts are messy and should be solved by striking a balance between freedom of religious expression and the need to contain harmful externalities. Don't read the book for that, but for the specifics of the various case studies, and perhaps as a spur to reflection on the impacts of our own practices and rituals. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jan 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed the book, I think it needed a little more heft - it's very anecdotal, it doesn't have all that many examples. It's also clear that many of the churches are aware of the environmental problems and seeking to mitigate them. ( )
  lanceparkin | Oct 4, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I won a copy of When God Isn't Green through LibraryThing's Early Reader giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

Author, Jay Wexler, is a professor of environmental law at Boston University. Wexler takes the reader on trips across the globe to examine the points where environmental law and religion collide and the conflicts and frictions at these intersections. The author explores the effects on the practice of religion when they are modified, such as with the Taoist practice of burning joss paper to appease the ghosts of dead ancestors. Igniting fires en masse can cause a spike in air pollution and exacerbate health problems among some of the population. Technological compromises have been introduced, but are rarely utilized. Do these more environmentally safer practices take the spirit out of spiritually and cultural traditions? There are no easy answers.

Wexler's engaging style kept me intrigued throughout the book. the content of the book elevated it from being a mere travelogue. ( )
  sfosterg | Jul 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

In this lively, round-the-world trip, law professor and humorist Jay Wexler explores the intersection of religion and the environment. Did you know that    * In Hong Kong and Singapore, Taoists burn paper money to appease "hungry ghosts," filling the air with smoke and dangerous toxins?    * In Mumbai, Hindus carry twenty-foot-tall plaster of Paris idols of the elephant god Ganesh into the sea and leave them on the ocean floor to symbolize the impermanence of life, further polluting the scarce water resources of western India?    * In Taiwan, Buddhists practicing "mercy release" capture millions of small animals and release them into inappropriate habitats, killing many of the animals and destroying ecosystems?    * In Central America, palm frond sales to US customers for Palm Sunday celebrations have helped decimate the rain forests of Guatemala and southern Mexico?    * In New York, Miami, and other large US cities, Santeria followers sprinkle mercury in their apartments to fend off witches, poisoning those homes for years to come?    * In Israel, on Lag B'omer, a holiday commemorating a famous rabbi, Jews make so many bonfires that the smoke can be seen from space, and trips to the emergency room for asthma and other pulmonary conditions spike? Law professor and humorist Jay Wexler travels the globe in order to understand the complexity of these problems and learn how society can best address them. He feasts on whale blubber in northern Alaska, bumps along in the back of a battered jeep in Guatemala, clambers down the crowded beaches of Mumbai, and learns how to pluck a dead eagle in Colorado, all to answer the question "Can religious practice and environmental protection coexist?"

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Jay Wexler's book When God Isn't Green was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Sign up to get a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review.

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.27)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5 1
4 6
4.5 1
5 3

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 159,019,530 books! | Top bar: Always visible