Abstract of the paper by Dzintra Ilishko, Latvia, Eastern Europe (ESWTR representative)

The Western world sees the universe as the machine where clear lines are drawn between spirit and body, human and nonhuman, objective and subjective, reason and passion. This leads to deep ecological crises which educators can try to overcome by developing a new ecological sensitivity towards the human being, its body, the other and the world. Recommending the building of bridges between East and West so that learning from other traditions can allow the re-evaluation of dominant assumptions and prejudices about what it means to be good women and men, the author reviews historical insights on the human self and the other, including what Frances Vaugham describes as the ecological self and McFague’s (1993) metaphor of the world as God’s body.

To conclude, the author writes that the cultural and ecological crisis in Eastern and Western Europe requires developing an ecological perspective towards building a more balanced and ecologically sustainable global community, which goes beyond materialistic philosophy and acknowledges otherness. The ecological approach towards reclaiming women’s sexuality puts stress on reclaiming women’s bodies and their biologically linked roles. The denial of women’s bodies have implications on the denial of the bodies of all marginalized and the body of the Universe. Otherwise, the denial of body and the nature will lead to a utilitarian attitude towards both, nature and body. Thus, the liberation of women rests upon reclaiming women’s nature, and by appreciating nature in its many different forms. Ecological spirituality should open a way for developing a new sensibility in humans towards the nature and body. It fosters personal integrity that means taking body and spirit seriously. Ecological spirituality can also be called incarnate because it celebrates bodylines as a normal and natural part of created order.

Dzintra Ilishko (Latvia, Eastern Europe) is a member of the International Board of the European Society of Women in Theological Research (ESWTR) and is in charge of ESWTR’s international contacts and relationships. She has a doctorate in theology and an incredible sense of humor.

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