In his 2015 encyclical Laudato 'Si, Pope Francis implores the human community to pursue an ecological conversion. It's an interesting turn of phrase--suggesting that the development of an ecological mindset, lifestyle, culture, (and inevitably in democratic societies, public policies) will not be driven by the intellect, but by the spirit.
I think he's right on--in fact, I am a big fan of the encyclical--but I find conversion is a problematic term.
Why? Because there's no 'method teaching' that leads to authentic conversion. You can have years of religious formation and never truly embrace a faith tradition, its ontological teachings, or its community at the spirit level. Likewise, you can be taught ecology for years and not feel at home on earth, let alone think twice about your consumption practices, your impact on your land and water systems.
So . . . there's that.
And then there's the paper I wrote in response to this systems-level change Pope Francis calls for, which has just been published in Religions. Religions is an international, open access scholarly journal, publishing peer reviewed studies of religious thought and practice.
The basic argument is outlined in the following syllogism:
Pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago who journal about the phenomena they experience along the Way just might find themselves feeling the emotions of respect, humility, and awe.
Those emotions are integral to the experience of reverence, and should be understood in that context.
Reverence among pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago is pure potential for ecological conversion.
. . . . so pilgrim journaling is a tool for ecological conversion.
Whether or not you take time to parse through the scholarly essay I developed in support of this argument, I invite you to pick up Laudato 'Si. Written for the human community in its entirety, it offers a beautiful meditation on what it means to be a steward of creation in a complex, interdependent, and culturally diverse world.
. . . And regardless of whether you read either, I warmly welcome you to join me in journaling a way home to earth.