Could Jesus Save Trees?

Bihar, India

With trees disappearing rapidly in the Indian state of Bihar, artists there are attempting to defend their crumbling ecosystem by painting pictures of Hindu deities on trees.  The painters hope that the deeply-religious locals will fear the wrath of the deities if they cut down more trees and thus save the trees.

Heck, I guess you don’t have to believe in religion to use it, like others, to manipulate people.

Question to readers:  What do you think?  Would a similar strategy work in Christian countries?  Would strategies like this encourage religious superstition? Did you enjoy my  graphics?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

19 responses to “Could Jesus Save Trees?

  1. Toronto has some very interesting carved trees:

    I think a similar strategy would work in Christian countries but I don’t think we should limit ourselves to religious imagery. Any sort of carving or picture would work.

  2. @ Lydia:
    I’m not sure stripping bark of trees will protect those trees but instead make them vulnerable to insects etc. But I admit, that is fun art.
    And loggers may not be stopped by New Age spirits — instead, they’d probably love cutting them down! 🙂

  3. I like it. Cultures that consider forests sacred tend to have much healthier ecosystems.

    Also several studies used pictures (or dolls) staring at people to see their response in potential cheating or stealing situations; those being stared at almost never cheated or stole. So this is using science to “manipulate” people as well.

  4. Sabio, I had no idea that those carvings were making the trees more susceptible to insects, etc.😦

  5. @ amelie:
    Glad you enjoyed. Big eyes on trees may do it too — but only if people feel it is wrong to cut down trees in the first place. Making them think a god lives in the tree makes it more useful. Making it a god with big eyes may be the best combo. Yeah, you are right, most superstitious activities can be verified by science studies and incorporated into advertising, business and politics!

    Lydia: ooops, sorry, didn’t mean to make it ugly.🙂

  6. CRL

    Ordinary people might stop, but I doubt logging companies and their employees would, as the person giving the order to cut down the tree is distanced from the person cutting the tree. So that kills the strategy in the US, I guess.

    People would freak out a bit if there was a Jesus on every tree, though😀.

  7. Yeah, CRL, you are right. Of course, looking at pictures of Sita or Lakshmi or elephant-headed Ganesh on a tree would be comical to use, but that would seem sacred to them.

  8. @Sabio the studies took situations where people were shown to cheat / break the rules when eyes were not on them, but did not cheat or break rules when eyes were on them. So they do not have to believe the act is wrong, only illegal or otherwise against the rules.

    These were experimental studies of course, not at all undying proof it works in most situations. Just pointing out that the “I’m looking at you” tactic could have some social science to back up its potential effectiveness.

  9. It is a tricky one. In my experience people cut down trees because they have no other fuel source. In Malawi where we are now cutting down trees has been made illegal because of the massive deforestation but when there are no diesel supplies, and no electricity even if it is connected, most people have no choice but to resort to charcoal. As a compromise they often chop most of the tree down and leave enough of a trunk for it to sprout again so the place is awash with these deformed ‘stumps’ of trees.
    There is also no doubt that people in India and Africa are superstitious and the ‘face on the tree’ would have an impact but I doubt, if the need were great, it would stop them cutting the tree for firewood to use or sell – they would just feel guilty.
    As to whether it would work elsewhere, it might in the US where people are highly religious but it wouldn’t in any other developed country where mostly they are not. Then again, in the developed world we don’t need to cut down trees to survive and the timber industry is highly organised and highly regulated to a Jesus tree would be a waste of paint and time.

  10. @Lydia
    Sabio is possibly right but it depends on the tree. Cork trees have been harvested for centuries and don’t suffer from insect damage when large amounts of cork are removed. Australian eucalypts (well, eucalypts in general) ‘shed’ their bark seasonally and are ‘bare-fleshed’ and quite beautifully so, until a new ‘skin’ grows and they are not prone to insect damage. So I suspect it depends on the variety of tree and I suspect those who carve into them, particularly in ‘regimented’ Canada, only do so if they can be sure the tree will be safe.

  11. Are the images carved or just small painted images? Hard to believe a little paint would harm a full-grown tree–or stop a logger.

  12. @vbholmes,
    I was under the impression Sabio photoshopped the images onto the trees. Could be wrong.

  13. @ vb holmes:
    Yep, I photoshopped those tree images. I am very happy you couldn’t tell — even if it weren’t my intent.🙂

  14. I don’t think the strategy would work in a Christian country. The church is not as feared as it used to be centuries ago.

    Greetings from London.

  15. @a cuban in london,

    It would be interesting to try it out though. Many images and symbols used by religion are actually far, far older and represent archetypal images which speak to us at unconscious and subconscious levels. Carl Jung said symbol was the lost language of the soul and this would be a fascinating test.

  16. I think it would or would not work depending on the dispostion of the mind of whomever is involved, though don’t forget that the Bible says “And let them have dominion…” – which some have chosen to intrepret as we can do whatever we want.

    I would submit that for those who are religious, this is a demeaning use of symbol. However, no matter what the position on religion, I would rather see education used as a motivator, not faith or superstition.

  17. The destruction of trees pains me however you look at it. I would hope religion goes deeper than superstition, though.

  18. @ Jamie

    Well said.

  19. Kristina D

    Beautiful! I wonder if the cultures are too different. This is used to control poverty stricken behavior.

    But then, we have people selling toast with the mother Mary on ebay…so I guess it could happen.

    It reminds me of this video I recently came across– it’s a cute little song about how Jesus and his followers actually Occupy Jerusalem.

    Anyways, here it is:

    Which, it has a point.

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