Religious Perspectives on Ecological, Political, and Cultural Grief

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2024 | Viewed by 996

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
Interests: theology; political theology; ethics; religion and the environment; grief
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religions invites scholarly contributions exploring religious perspectives on ecological, political, and cultural grief.

Several theses motivate this Special Issue.

  • First, grief has become constitutive; for many people (religious and non-religious), grief has become a constitutive and pervasive, rather than intermittent, feature of life in the turbulence of the contemporary world.
  • Second, grief has become structural; as a result of various systemic and historical dynamics, grief has become structural, a response to socio-cultural, ecological, and political forces in the world, as well as a response to acute, personal loss and death. 
  • Third, structural grief is religiously significant; religious thinkers, communities, and traditions can uniquely contribute to our understanding of and response to ecological, political, cultural, and other forms of structural grief, and structural grief can generate new perspectives on religious life and experience.

These theses provoke clusters of questions that authors may want to address in their submissions, including but not limited to the following:

  • How are economic, ecological, political, and socio-cultural trends changing the character and causes of grief, and what can a religious perspective (e.g., historical, comparative, theological, psychological) contribute to our understanding of these changes? For example, what resources can scholars of religion bring to our understanding of and responses to ecological, political, and cultural grief? How might these or other forms of structural grief lead to new interpretations of contemporary religious life and experience?
  • Can grief in response to disruptive changes in the social and material conditions of life be adequately interpreted by existing theories of grief? Can grief theories, oriented primarily to acute personal loss or the death of loved ones, help us to understand persistent, diffused, and ambiguous loss? Are new theories of grief needed to understand the nature and consequences of a sense of loss resulting from changing social status and cultural norms, the persistence and intensification of racial injustice, the breakdown of religious worldviews and institutions, the demise of political projects and ideals, the decline of shared values and epistemic standards, the climate crisis, or the extinction of species?
  • How might analyses of grief's changing character and causes provide new ways of interpreting and understanding contemporary human religious, moral, and political life? In other words, what do new forms and expressions of grief tell us about what we care about, who we are becoming, and how the world is changing? 
  • How do religious beliefs, values, practices, or institutions influence, limit, enrich, and leverage our sense of who and what is grievable?

Submissions that engage one or more of the theses or questions articulated above are especially encouraged. In addition, submissions attentive to the pedagogical implications of grief, especially the forms of grief discussed above, are welcome. The Editorial Team will review all submissions examining the connections between religious thought/experience and ecological, political, or cultural grief.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Theology, ethics, theological ethics, religious ethics;
  • Religion and the environment;
  • Environmental and climate humanities;
  • Ecotheology;
  • Religion and politics;
  • Affect theory;
  • Thanatology;
  • Political theology;
  • Psychology of religion;
  • Political psychology;
  • Eco psychology;
  • Sociology of religion;
  • Religion and social sciences.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 200-300 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editor, or to the Assistant Editor Ms. Violet Li ( of Religions. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the special issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Michael S. Hogue
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • grief
  • ecological grief
  • political grief
  • religion
  • theology
  • ethics
  • politics

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Christianity, Eschatology & Loss

Abstract: This article looks at the experience of grieving loss in context of hypermobility, in light of the Christian theological subdiscipline of eschatology or the study of the last things. Using the Disney movie "Inside Out" as a reference point, the article argues that the otherwise personal experience of grieving loss puts all of us in touch with the end of all things. Furthermore, it argues that the eschatological drama plays itself out in the experience of grief of loss and its opposite, namely the restoration of that which was grieved over, though not in the terms expected by those grieving the loss. To build its case, the article will explore in turn Affect Theory’s relationship to power and governmentality, Romano Guardini’s idea of biographical death, Critical Theory’s conception of the Messianic, and St Bonaventure’s conception of Christ - who is the eschaton - as the convergence of opposites. Each exploration would build upon the previous, and all would be brought to bear on the movie, culminating in the cinematic climax in "Inside Out", a youth's confession of her grief to her parents at losing her childhood home in the name of her parents' career pursuits and the mobility demanded of them.

Title: Extending the Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement to Ecological Grief

Abstract: The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement (DPM, Stroebe & Schut) is a well-known framework in contemporary grief research and counselling. It depicts how people oscillate between various tasks and reactions. There’s a need to engage more with the intense feelings of loss (“Loss-oriented tasks”), but also with other things in life and other parts of the adjustment process after a loss (“Restoration-oriented tasks”). This article discusses the framework in relation to ecological grief and proposes that an extension into collective dynamics would be beneficial. While the DPM has been extended to family dynamics, many subjects of grief are even more collective and require mourning from whole communities or societies. Ecological grief is a prime example of such “structural grief” (Hogue). Religion and spirituality can be linked with the subject matter in many ways. Worldviews and religions affect dynamics of ecological grief, and the process of meaning reconstruction (Neimeyer) caused by ecological grief extends to the level of worldviews and spiritual practices. Religion and spirituality have potential to be helpful in such processes, but if there is disenfranchised grief and/or other difficulties, the disruption between ecological mourners and their spiritual communities may provide an additional layer of “spiritual grief” (Pihkala, forthcoming). The article draws from eco-emotion research, grief research, religion and ecology research, and interdisciplinary environmental studies.

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