Historian Philip Jenkins draws out the complex relationship between religion and climate change. He asserts that the religious movements and ideas that emerge from climate shocks often last for many decades, and even become a familiar part of the religious landscape, even though their origins in particular moments of crisis may be increasingly consigned to remote memory.
In his insightful and gripping new book, Philip Jenkins looks at how humans have understood climate convulsions and weather cataclysms in religious terms. Jenkins is perhaps the ideal historian to undertake a project like this, which runs from roughly the 11th century to the present. A professor of history at Baylor University, he is nothing if not prolific ... To this latest effort he brings his typical narrative flair, sweeping coverage and acute analysis ... Jenkins’s sections on witch hunts and satanic panics are some of the most intriguing parts of the book ... Jenkins concludes his study by speculating on what religious conflict might look like in the coming decades, when the impact of climate change is predicted to be even more catastrophic ... Jenkins’s deeply researched and captivating narrative offers readers a glimpse of what may lie ahead.
A survey of the historical effects of climate on world religions ... In his latest, acclaimed religious scholar Jenkins looks at how climate change, broadly defined, has shaped movements in religion—mainly in the European realm but also around the globe. The author argues that by studying the past, we can make assumptions about the future of religious reactions to climate change. However, his forecasting is shaky, as the text becomes a catalog of natural catastrophes, each tenuously tied to its own corresponding historical horror ... the author’s attempts to tie nearly every important moment in European religion to climate issues—for instance, the rise of John Calvin’s theocracy in Geneva due to sunspot activity and Baltic Sea temperatures—will overwhelm most readers. Jenkins does incorporate other factors into his analysis, but he often forces the issue, overestimating the degree of causation between climate and 'religious upheaval.' ... A well-researched concept that falls flat in the presentation.
In this uneven study, Jenkins, a professor of history at Baylor, attempts to chronicle how climate change has affected religions ... Unfortunately, Jenkins’s limited lens causes him to miss some opportunities ... Despite these limitations, Jenkins marshals an impressive amount of research on how specific weather events have affected populations. Those with a serious scholarly interest in European religious history will get the most from this.