In this lively, round-the-world trip, law professor and humorist Jay Wexler explores the intersection of religion and the environment.
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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?”
- 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?
“If you’ve ever wondered where fronds for Palm Sunday came from or what to do if you find an expired bald eagle, your questions will be answered in this illuminating book.”
“Witty and engaging, this book simultaneously celebrates and challenges spiritual traditions.”
“Highly entertaining and eye-opening.”
1. Religious Practice Versus the Environment: An Overview
2. Guatemalan Greenery: International Effects and the Influence of Markets
3. Indian Idols: The Economic Costs of Regulation and the Problem of Equality
4. Eagles: A Reprise
5. Singapore Smoke: Technological Fixes and the Impacts of Regulation
6. Taiwanese Turtles: Religious Authenticity and the Role of Government
7. Barrow (Alaska) Bowheads: Legal Exemptions and the Power of Community
- Religion Dispatches, original piece, 6/16/2016
- Ecotopia/KZFR (Chico, CA), interview, 5/10/2016
- Foreword Reviews, listed in reading roundup, 4/20/2016
- The New Yorker, book event write-up, 4/20/2016
- Interfaith Voices, interview, 4/7/2016
- Religion Dispatches, excerpt, 4/4/2016
- Progressive Spirit/KBOO Radio, interview, 4/3/2016
- Daily Free Press (BU student newspaper), interview, 3/28/2016
- Maclean's Magazine, review, 3/20/2016
- The Daily Beast, excerpt, 3/20/2016
- Uprising Radio/KPFK, interview, 3/17/2016
- The Friendly Atheist/Patheos, excerpt, 3/15/2016
- Boston Globe, mention, 3/12/2016
- Foreward Reviews, review, 2/29/2016