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Original Research

Is Psalm 104 an expression (also) of dark green religion?

Hennie Viviers

HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies; Vol 73, No 3 (2017), 8 pages. doi: 10.4102/hts.v73i3.3829

Submitted: 30 July 2016
Published:  28 February 2017

Abstract

Bron Taylor defines dark green religion as follows: ‘… a deep sense of belonging to and connectedness in nature, while perceiving the earth and its living systems to be sacred and interconnected’. Can Psalm 104, with its conspicuous focus on nature, also be described as an expression of dark green religion? Utilising especially the dark green values of belonging, interconnectedness and sacredness, it was found that the psalm aptly confirms Earth as home, illustrates a deep-seated kinship with other living creatures and acknowledges nature as intrinsically worthy or sacred through its close association with God. Of the four kinds of dark green religion, Gaian Naturalism and Naturalistic Animism (‘Darwinist’, naturalist view), Gaian Spirituality and Spiritual Animism (supernaturalist view), the psalm belongs to the last-mentioned, acknowledging Yahweh as upholding and ‘permeating’ the harmonious whole of creation. The poet is, however, also well informed of ‘natural’ knowledge of his environment (for his time obviously). The psalm’s joy, awe, astonishment, humility and fear (to a limited extent), being almost overwhelmed by awesome nature, are emotions that can also be shared by adherers to the naturalist view, those who doubt if there is some spiritual world running parallel to the natural world. The religious-like experience of naturalists provides common ground with the religious and enhances a much-needed change of view of respect towards nature.


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Author affiliations

Hennie Viviers, Department of Religion Studies, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Keywords

dark green religion; nature spirituality; belonging; interconnectedness; sacredness; intrinsic worth; Psalm 104

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ISSN: 0259-9422 (print) | ISSN: 2072-8050 (online)

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