More About the Author
I'm a writer, broadcaster, religious historian, environmentalist (head of a charity linking religions and conservations - www.arcworld.org) and translator of Chinese classics.
I was born in Bristol, England, a city where my family has lived for more than 500 years. My surname, Palmer, suggests that sometime before the Reformation my ancestors were professional pilgrims. They were called Palmers because they brought back palm leaves from the Holy Land to show their clients (who had hired them in order to gain some merit in heaven without actually having to make an exhausting journey themselves) they had done the trip.
I was brought up on a huge housing estate (what Americans call "public housing") on the outskirts of Bristol, where my father was a vicar. I spent every weekend walking the ancient city of Bristol or exploring the churches and pre-historic sites of North Somerset within cycling distance of my house. From this and from a magic godmother who lived on the Quantock Hills in Somerset I developed a love and passion for the history, places, landscape and stories of Britain.
My first job was as an advisor on religious education in schools in Manchester and as part of that I founded, in Salford, the world's first multi-faith education centre. We took around 12,000 children out every year to explore the landscape of inner city Manchester through the eyes of the different faith communities and how they had adapted the landscape to fit with their beliefs and traditions.
In 1983 WWF-UK asked me to write the first book for schools on how different beliefs shape the way you treat the natural world. "Worlds of Difference" became the best selling RE book ever and went into 12 languages. It launched the whole movement of taking seriously the role of faith in the protection of our planet and its nature. In 1986 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who was then International President of WWF, asked me to organise the first ever meeting between major faiths and the main conservation movements in Assisi, Italy. In 1995, I launched, with Prince Philip, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) which now works with every major religious tradition world wide developing environmental programmes based upon the tradition's own teachings, schools, landholding, investments, festivals etc.
I am an Anglican but not perhaps an orthodox one as my faith has been deeply influenced by both Daoism and Judaism. I speak regularly around the world on a range of topics from the role of stories to the role of faith in conservation. I am an advisor to the Club of Rome and have worked with UNESCO, UNDP, the World Bank as well as with many faith bodies such as the Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines of Japan) the China Taoist Association, the Mongolian Buddhist Sangha and the World Council of Churches.
I am married to writer and journalist Victoria Finlay and together we have written one of the most influential books on religion and conservation: Faith in Conservation, published by the World Bank. We live in North Somerset.
(PHOTOS COURTESY OF CLINT RANDALL)