In this lively, round-the-world trip, law professor and humorist Jay Wexler explores the intersection of religion and the environment.
Did you know that
- In Hong Kong and Singapore, Taoists burn paper money to appease "hungry ghosts," filling the air with smoke and dangerous toxins?
- In Mumbai, Hindus carry twenty-foot-tall plaster of Paris idols of the elephant god Ganesh into the sea and leave them on the ocean floor to symbolize the impermanence of life, further polluting the scarce water resources of western India?
- In Taiwan, Buddhists practicing "mercy release" capture millions of small animals and release them into inappropriate habitats, killing many of the animals and destroying ecosystems?
- In Central America, palm frond sales to US customers for Palm Sunday celebrations have helped decimate the rain forests of Guatemala and southern Mexico?
- In New York, Miami, and other large US cities, Santeria followers sprinkle mercury in their apartments to fend off witches, poisoning those homes for years to come?
- In Israel, on Lag B'omer, a holiday commemorating a famous rabbi, Jews make so many bonfires that the smoke can be seen from space, and trips to the emergency room for asthma and other pulmonary conditions spike?
Law professor and humorist Jay Wexler travels the globe in order to understand the complexity of these problems and learn how society can best address them. He feasts on whale blubber in northern Alaska, bumps along in the back of a battered jeep in Guatemala, clambers down the crowded beaches of Mumbai, and learns how to pluck a dead eagle in Colorado, all to answer the question "Can religious practice and environmental protection coexist?"