Aspects of modernization, such as the secularization of education and healthcare in the past two centuries, have led to the widespread upending of classical Thai monastic roles in society. The monastic community has responded in various ways to these changes, including an increased focus on ritual; ecclesiastical advancement; and engagement with social, political, and environmental matters. Monastic engagement with environmental issues is the focus of Susan Darlington's recent book, The Ordination of a Tree: The Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement. This book is a much-needed ethnographic contribution to the field of engaged Buddhist studies that will interest those involved in Buddhist and religious studies, anthropology, as well as modernity and environmental issues in Southeast Asia.

Darlington's historical, ethnographic account is a clearly written story of engaged Buddhist ethics in action. Inspired by the ideas of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu and Sulak Sivaraksa, Darlington completed research on monks engaged in development work in...

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