Nature Management: the Experience of Orthodox Christianity

  1. Lemma
  2. Природопользование опыт православия
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Ecology and the environment - Orthodox theological tradition and practice - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Mysticism and Orthodox spiritual experience
  6. 19-10-2018
  7. Вершков, Анатолий Валентинович [Author]. Природопользование опыт православия
  8. Известия Российского государственного педагогического университета им. А.И. Герцена
  9. monasticism - Monastery - nature management - ecological consciousness - agriculture - History of the Russian Orthodox Church - Russian Orthodox Church - Russian saints - ethics
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    1. <p>Вершков, А. В. (2012). Природопользование опыт православия. <em>Известия Российского государственного педагогического университета им. А.И. Герцена</em>, (150), 34-40.</p>
    1. The author suggests using the experience of nature management of monasteries and parishes as a model of sustainable living for all humanity. The Russian Orthodox Church’s doctrine on nature management is based on historical experience marked by a collectivism that has been essential for the survival of the Russian people.

      The first Russian monasteries were established in the 10th century and had a clear collectivist nature: common financial resources, unified services, and compulsory works for each member of a monastic community. Christian Orthodox ethics regulated the attitude of monasteries toward nature. This attitude implied seeing nature as God’s creation and the necessity to keep it in order with care and love. The founder of Belozersky monastery, Kiril Belozersky (1337-1427), wrote about punishment to those who mistreated animals. The author notes that there are many stories on Russian saints that lived in harmony with wild animals. This iconic image of a saint surrounded by wild beasts is a reference to the idyllic paradise life before the Fall that Russian saints were trying to recreate.

      A strong work ethic also had an important place in monastic life. Work was seen as a service to God, personal perfection, and the bonding of community. This was in striking contrast to the Ancient Greek attitude, when labour was the activity of slaves and free citizens sought leisure. Meanwhile, in the Ancient Russian language, labour meant a cure from idleness and a tool for personal perfection. Histories of Russian saints emphasized the diligence of saints. Traditionally, Russian monastic households worked on the principle of a closed cycle as nature itself. A natural household economy meant less waste products and more recycling, for example, cattle breeding which provided agriculture with fertilizers.

      The Russian Orthodox Church’s view of ecological living from the 1860-1870s focused on small deeds necessary to define one’s attitude toward nature: a spiritual and loving outlook; education that teaches literacy and love of labour; and the use of monastic farms as experimental fields for new agricultural technologies. 

      The author hopes that the renaissance of religious life in Russia, as well as the restoration of monasteries, will make them centres of learning about more harmonious attitudes toward nature.