Sacred Space for Sacred Sustainability
The recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 20–22, 2012, with its ensuing document entitled The Future We Want, indicates that world leaders are coming to grips with the costs of development in relation to ecology. Amidst the multivocal discussions of the global summits thus far on sustainable development, there are emergent discourses that draw the world’s attention to the crises of sustainability for our planetary home, the only habitat of humankind. These impending crises focus our attention on the hermeneutics of space and sustainability. In the first section, an attempt will be made to understand the relation of space to place. Space is explained not in terms of its void of meaning but as sacred and spirited, which the second section attempts to postulate. The sacredness of space, as the third section argues, has become countercultural in a world of unbridled resource exploitation. Since space is made sacred by God’s indwelling omnipresence which suffuses creation, a theological insight known as sacred sustainability is explained in the fourth section. In the fifth section, a critique of the UN’s concept of sustainable development in its exclusion of the transcendental dimension of culture and space is articulated in relation to sacred sustainability. This insight finds an interreligious resonance in the teachings of the other religions as explained in section six. An interreligious conversation on sacred sustainability encourages further interdisciplinary conversation between religion, science and technology. Section seven shows how this conversation leads to greater mutual enrichment. In the last section, professionals in religion, science and technology are encouraged to engage in multilevel collaboration in order to ensure the holistic sustainability of life for humankind and the earth.