Book review : The spiritual foundations of the ecological crisis, by Jean-Claude Larchet


Jean-Claude Larchet: Les fondements spirituels de la crise écologique

Jean-Claude Larchet, Les fondements spirituels de la crise écologique [The spiritual foundations of the ecological crisis], Publisher: Syrtes, Geneva, 2018, 133 p., €15.

We recently presented this book. Here is today a review on it:

All questions and information related to environment and ecology are constantly in the news these days, both in France and around the world. The challenges are enormous and what’s at stake is nothing less than the future of humanity and living conditions on our planet. In recent years, many large-scale environmental disasters have struck this or that region of the world. Other considerable and numerous disasters have been threatening us ever more. Nobody is spared. It is therefore a crucial question for our time and for our future that Jean-Claude Larchet tackles in his latest book. The originality and relevance of his approach lie in the fact that he goes to the root of this issue. It is actually spiritual, as in many other fields. If we don’t consider the issue on a spiritual level, we just look at superficial elements that only avoids the problem. The author’s approach is very pedagogical, based on the Bible, and the patristic and ascetic tradition. He first examines the place of humankind in Creation. Humans are said to be its “crown”.

It is our responsibility to be the guardian of Creation, to be mediators between God and nature, and to use it first and foremost in the dynamics of a spiritual journey in which everything gets its full meaning and consistency. The author also shows how our sins impact nature. Another no less fascinating contribution of the book is the background of the current situation. It really all started in the Renaissance, when thought in the West moved away from Christian teaching and relied increasingly on rationalism, naturalism, individualism, body-soul dualism, the mechanization of bodies (and animals), capitalism, the myth of progress and of the omnipotence of technology. This situation is also related to the passions, as they express themselves fully in it. This work follows several other books by the same author in which he shows that ascetic theology is also at the heart of the topic. The book ends with ascetic ways of restoring our relationship with nature, a restoration that involves sobriety and decay. This new book, which offers a necessary and very useful synthesis, is destined to be a reference on this question for all those who want to get to the bottom of things.

Source in French


This post is also available in: Français (French)

  Notre lettre d'informations hebdomadaire gratuite  

Chers lecteurs,

Vous êtes de plus en plus nombreux à lire, et nous nous en réjouissons. Nous souhaitons qu’une grande partie des articles de notre site soit accessible à tous, gratuitement, mais l’information de qualité a un coût. Et pour cette raison, votre soutien nous est plus que nécessaire. Nous vous invitons à vous y abonner, ou bien à faire un don de soutien !

Emma Cazabonne was born and raised in France. She taught English before entering the Cistercian Order. She translated and published articles relevant to her interest in Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She moved to the United States in 2001, converted to Orthodoxy in 2008, and married. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. She continued to publish articles, a Cistercian texts anthology, then finally launched her career in literary translation, while teaching French. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here