School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Event items

Why Jesus Never Talked About Farming: Nature, Faith, and the Bourgeois Transition

Agriculture Seminar Series - Prof Michaal Bell, a Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Winsconsin-Madison (USA)

Date/Time: Monday 4 February 2019, 12:00 - 13:00

Venue: Agriculture Building, Room 3.05


Drawing from his new book, City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is  Right (Princeton, 2018), he will offer an explanation for why the modern  “world religions” have relatively little to say about issues of ecology and sustenance. 

Religious traditions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Rabbinic Judaism, Jainism, Daoism, Gnosticism and Platonism, as well as elements of Islam and developments in Hinduism, arose mainly to address the bourgeois concerns of class-based societies during the great expansion of cities, states, and empires in the mid to late Iron Age.

In contrast, pagan traditions address more the concerns of kin-based societies and the precariousness of ecological sustenance. 

In the talk, Mike will focus on the New Testament, with some hints about other bourgeois religious traditions. He will also discuss ways we might bring the insights of pagan and bourgeois traditions together better to build a deeper ethics of social and ecological justice.


Michael Bell is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also a faculty associate in Environmental Studies, Religious Studies.