The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
3.4 (April 2009)
1. Editorial: "Religion and Ecology in a Changing Climate," by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally
2. Climate Change Blog
3. New Books
6. Volunteer Opportunities
7. Faith and Eco-Justice Fellowship
8. Calls for Papers
9. Sources and Resources for Religion and Conservation Biology
10. From the Field: "Collaborating to Conserve our Climate, Save our Seas, and Find New Friends," by Marah J. Hardt and Kate McLaughlin
11. Worldviews and Other Journals
Welcome to the April issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology. We are pleased to share a lot of interesting and exciting information with you this month, including information about new publications, events, calls for papers, workshops, volunteer opportunities, and much more. We have invited Marah J. Hardt and Kate McLaughlin to write a short piece about their work with the Friendship Collaborative, a new project that facilitates workshops that bring scientific and faith communities together to address the environmental crisis, with special attention to global climate change.
We would also like to direct your attention to some other projects that bring scientific perspectives together with moral and religious perspectives to address issues of climate change. An excellent example of one such project is Anne Primavesi’s new book, Gaia and Climate Change: A Theology of Gift Events. Weaving together scientific, philosophical, and theological discourses, Primavesi shows how humans can cultivate a viable response to climate change by understanding life on Earth as a gift event, which exceeds the confines of market value and opens possibilities for intimate relations between all members of the Earth community.
Another interesting project related to climate change is the latest issue of the blog People and Place (http://www.peopleandplace.net/archive/volume/1/issue/2). This blog contains articles from various authors who explore the social and morals dimensions of climate change. Sustainable solutions to climate change require that the connections between climate change and morality not be ignored. This is emphasized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and James Leape (director general of the World Wildlife Fund International) in their article, “Moral Aspect of Climate Change Can’t Be Ignored” (http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/608603 ). “Global warming,” according to Tutu and Leape, “is not just an ecological and financial dilemma, it is an ethical one that opens up unsettling questions about justice, fairness, responsibilities and obligations.”
In a similar tone, Father Paul Mayer’s recent blog entry to The Huffington Post argues that a carbon tax is not only an environmental and economic issue, but is “a vital moral question” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/father-paul-mayer). Referring to Tutu’s statement that the “polluter must pay,” Father Mayer argues that it is a moral imperative for polluters to face penalties for their dangerous and destructive actions.
Religious communities are making important contributions to discussion of the moral dimensions of climate change. For instance, Bishop William S. Skylstad recently announced the launching of the Catholic Climate Covenant, a coalition of Catholic organizations pledging to take action on climate change by following obligations to care for the poor and for God's creation (http://catholicclimatecovenant.org). The covenant is described as the "St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor."
Although many religious communities are engaging issues of climate change, there is still much work needed in order to integrate these engagements into national and global policies. Accordingly, Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, recently criticized the United Nations Climate Change Conference (to be held in Copenhagen this December) for not including religious perspectives in the proceedings (http://www.prlog.org/10202464-hindus-criticize-ambitious-copenhagen-climate-summit-for-neglecting-world-religious-leaders.html). According to Zed, if the policies and decisions articulated at the conference are going to be effective, then they must include the pers pectives of religious leaders and communities.
There are many other individuals and organizations calling for religious leaders and communities to facilitate effective action in response to climate change. Such action is of central concern for the field of religion and ecology, as is indicated by the issue of Daedalus (Fall 2001) edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, Religion and Ecology: Can the Climate Change? (http://www.amacad.org/publications/fall2001/fall2001.aspx). In this issue, various authors explore possibilities for religions to address global climate change and to ensure the continuity of a vibrant Earth community.
We will continue to keep you updated with current information related to the pressing issues of religion and ecology, including issues involving religious responses to global climate change. We hope that you find this information useful in your endeavors.
Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally
California Institute of Integral Studies
Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale
Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors
Issue #2 of People and Place (P&P), a blog edited by Howard Silverman and published by Ecotrust, is devoted to ethical and social approaches to climate change. Articles include the following: Peter Singer on "'One Person, One Share' of the Atmosphere," Dale Jamieson on "The Ethics of Climate Change," Howard Silverman on "Climate Change Changes Everything," Steve Vanderheiden on "Climate Change and Cosmopolitan Citizenship," and more.
This blog can be found at: http://www.peopleandplace.net/archive/volume/1/issue/2
Gaia and Climate Change: A Theology of Gift Events
By Anne Primavesi
Taylor & Francis, 2008
It is now accepted that our activities over the past two hundred years have contributed to and accelerated the extreme weather events associated with climate change. The fact that those activities materialized, for the most part, from within Western Christian communities makes it imperative to assess and to change their theological climate: one characterized by routine use of violent, imperialist images of God. The basis for change explored here is that of gift events, particularly as evidenced in Jesus' life and sayings. Its legacy of love of enemies and forgiveness offers a basis for nonviolent theological and practical approaches to our situatedness within the community of life. These are also Gaian responses, as they include foregoing a perception of ourselves as belonging to an elect group given power by God over earth's life-support systems and over all those depe ndent on them, whether human or more-than-human. The degree to which we change this self-perception will determine how we affect, for good or ill, not only the givenness of the climate in future but the givenness of all future life on earth.
Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World.
By Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman
Shambhala Publications, 2009
Today there is a bewildering diversity of views on ecology and the natural environment. With more than a hundred ecological schools of thought and methodologies—and scientists, economists, religious leaders, activists, and others often taking completely different stances on the issues—how can we come to agreement to solve our toughest environmental problems? In response to this pressing need, Integral Ecology unites the valuable insights from multiple perspectives into a comprehensive theoretical framework—one that can be put to use right now. Real-life applications of integral ecology are examined, including work with marine fisheries in Hawaii, strategies of eco-activists to protect Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, and a study of community development in El Salvador.
For more information, visit: http://www.integralecology.org
Educating for Ecological Intelligence: Practices and Challenges
By C.A. Bowers
Ecojustice Press, 2009
C.A. Bower’s latest book proposes cultural and educational reforms that would foster ecological intelligence and facilitate a revitalization of the commons. With such reforms, Bowers articulates possibilities for a political economy of the commons that supports forms of sustainable wealth, while also proposing new leadership roles in education. Along with proposed reforms, Bowers offers many critiques of the current cultural and educational systems that enclose the commons. Bowers is particularly critical of overused computer technologies and of faculty for whom academic freedom becomes an excuse to avoid educational reforms. This book can be downloaded for free at: http://www.cabowers.net
"Transforming Higher Education into an Ethical Space and Place for Learning"
7th Annual Conference for Critical Animal Studies
Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
April 25, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/
"Feeding a Hot and Hungry Planet: The Challenge of Making More Food and Fewer Greenhouse Gases"
Princeton Environmental Institute Conference
Princeton University, NJ, USA
April 29-May 1, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.princeton.edu/morefoodlesscarbon/
"Common Ground -- One Earth"
Science and Religion in Dialogue for a Sustainable Future
Keynote addresses: James Hansen, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and Peter Mann
Columbia University, Low Rotunda, New York City, NY, USA
May 3-4, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.columbia.edu/
"Religion & Ecology in the Public Sphere"
2nd International Conference of the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment
May 14-17, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.abo.fi/student/Content/Document/document/12549
Renewal: Stories from America's Religious-Environmental Movement
Film Event with Bill McKibben and Mary Evelyn Tucker
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, NY, USA
May 17, 2009, 4-8pm
For More Information about the Film, visit: http://www.renewalproject.net/
"Jumpstarting the New Green Economy"
2nd Annual Green Ventures Conference
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham, Madison, NJ, USA
May 19-21, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.greenventuresconference.org
"Globalization for the Common Good: An Interfaith Perspective"
Globalization: the Challenge to America
Eighth Annual Conference
May 31–June 4, 2009
Loyola University, Chicago, IL, USA
"Elemental Faith: Earth, Air, Fire, Water"
Annual Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education
Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 7-12, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://astes.ca
Bethlehem Farm is a Catholic Community in Appalachia that transforms lives through service with the local community and the teaching of sustainable practices. Their farm house facility can accommodate up to 30 volunteers per service week. On a typical week you will find groups intermingling from schools, churches, and families. Some other weeks are designed for individuals to come and serve and pray with other individuals from around the country. See the Bethlehem Farm Calendar to learn more about the schedule of service opportunities.
For more information, visit: http://www.bethlehemfarm.net/main/
Volunteer in Community at Holy Wisdom Monastery (Middleton, WI, USA)
Benedictine Women of Madison weaves prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into daily life and ministry. Benedictine Women of Madison offers an eco-spiritual opportunity for single women between the ages of 20 and 50. Volunteers spend anywhere from two weeks to two months living in community at Holy Wisdom Monastery, located near Madison, WI, USA. The grounds include a 10,000-year old glacial lake, wooded nature trails, native prairie and beautiful gardens. Volunteers work about four hours/day, spend time with the community in prayer and at meals, deepen their spiritual awareness through guided reflection and conversation, and take time for themselves as well.
Internships are available June 15 through August 15. Room and meals are provided.
For more information, visit: http://www.benedictinewomen.org/
The National Council of Churches is continuing the tradition of nurturing young faith and environment leaders by sponsoring a Young Adult Fellowship Retreat this summer. The program, which will focus on climate justice, seeks to nurture and train a new generation of faith leaders on environmental issues. The all-expense paid fellowship retreat will be held July 27-29, 2009 at Port Isobel, VA, USA. Participants will enjoy the unique atmosphere of this Chesapeake Island while delving into theology with our theologian-in-residence and learning more about climate, poverty, and justice through interactive workshops and plenary sessions. One of the goals of the program, now in its third year, is to bring together a diversity of young adults (age 22-40) for fellowship and learning.
The application deadline is May 11, 2009.
To apply, visit www.nccecojustice.org
Sixth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability
The Sixth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability will be held at the University of Cuenca, Ecuador on January 5-7, 2010. The Conference will include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by practitioners, teachers and researchers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. If you are unable to attend the Conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication.
The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is May 14, 2009. Full details of the Conference, including an online proposal submission form, may be found at the Conference website: http://www.SustainabilityConference.com/.
Anthropocentrism: Investigations into the History of an Idea
This collection seeks essays that question the assumptions behind the label anthropocentrism, specifically aiming critically to enquire into presuppositions about the meaning of 'human'. The book will look fundamentally to understand what is anthropos in anthropocentrism. In addition, essays may explore the history of anthropocentric ideas and their relation to, or implications for, the nonhuman world.
For the full call for papers, visit: http://fore.research.yale.edu/education/professionaldevelopment/call_for_papers/Anthropocentrism.pdf
Studies in Religion and the Environment/Studien zur Religion und Umwelt
The series Studies in Religion and the Environment/Studien zur Religion und Umwelt publishes academic works that explore the interplay of religion, theology and spirituality on the one hand and nature, ecology and the environment on the other. This publication series of the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment offers a unique possibility to share monographs, anthologies and contributed collections with scholars around the world. The series promotes scholarly and critical inquiry into the relationships between human beings and their diverse cultures, environments and religious beliefs and practices.
For more information, visit: http://www.hf.ntnu.no/relnateur/index.php?lenke=publications.php
The list can be accessed at: http://www.conbio.org/groups/working-groups/religion-and-conservation-biology/resources5.
We appreciate the opportunity to write to the Forum community about a unique project called the Friendship Collaborative (www.friendshipcollaborative.org). A true collaboration between Vineyard Church, Ann Arbor, MI and the marine conservation organization, Blue Ocean Institute, NY, the project brings together members of the scientific and faith communities for day-long workshops, providing a platform for open, honest, and productive dialogue about the environmental crisis and earth stewardship. The premise of the Friendship Collaborative is that, given the chance to listen, reflect, and engage with one another, scientists and faith leaders—and the environment—can benefit from knowing one another. We have found that once mutual trust and respect is e stablished, there is no end to the creative initiatives that spring forth from these relationships.
The Friendship Collaborative itself is the result of such a relationship: Senior Pastor Ken Wilson and scientist/author Carl Safina first met at a gathering of prestigious scientists and evangelical leaders invited to come together to consider the future health of the planet. Instead of conflict between these two assumedly opposing communities, they found an abundance of common ground. The end result was the joint “Urgent Call to Action” that stated, “we share a profound moral obligation to work together to call our nation, and other nations, to the kind of dramatic change urgently required in our day.”
Inspired by this meeting, Ken and Carl believed that great progress could come through sharing this opportunity with colleagues across the country. The Friendship Collaborative attempts to recreate the experience of this original retreat, giving scientists and faith leaders the chance to talk and listen, face to face, in an informal, supportive setting.
Science offers crucial information about how the world is changing, and faith offers spiritual and moral perspectives in the face of these changes. At Friendship Collaborative workshops, we provide the opportunity to bring these groups together to discuss human impacts on the environment, especially climate change, and the mutual culpability of scientists and people of faith in propagating bias and stereotypes that have led to the divide between these two communities. We candidly address the cultural factors that have led to isolation and at times hostility between the scientific and faith communities. We presently focus on the opportunity stemming from important shifts underway within the American evangelical landscape that involve a recovery of concern for the environment as an integral part of faith. We think isolation is part of the problem and building friendships is a part of the solution.
We discuss how, in the face of global threats to our planet’s health, science and religion need each other to answer this question: what ought we do now? And we consider the responsibility of scientists and evangelicals to engage in initiatives and opportunities to help prevent further degradation of creation.
By establishing relationships, we can help each other relate. Scientists can offer expertise to faith leaders who are trying to understand what the consequences of climate change, or other environmental impacts, mean for their communities. Faith leaders can help scientists understand how to communicate their findings to a wider audience and make their work relevant to those who not only determine policy, but vote every day with their wallets and voices.
So far, we have held two workshops, each with its own unique flavor and focus, each teaching us something about each other and ourselves. The informal atmosphere allows opinions, biases, observations, experiences, and honest dialogue to flow freely. And from such beginnings, new efforts to work together toward a healthier planet, for all life and future generations to enjoy, can be born.
While the Friendship Collaborative starts the dialogue between evangelicals and scientists, our hope is for the conversation to continue and bear fruit. For example, when Vineyard Church’s Creation Care for Pastors website needed reliable information about how climate change affected the poor, Ken contacted Marah, who wrote a brief article with up-to-date facts illustrating these consequences (http://www.creationcareforpastors.com/articles/).
Alternatively, this year Blue Ocean’s seafood program developed a Lenten guide to sustainable seafood in order to help religious organizations provide healthy seafood meals that are good for the planet and the people that they serve (www.blueocean.org/seafood). We contacted our friends at Vineyard, Ann Arbor for advice on spiritual perspectives and texts to include in order to make the packets as relevant and user-friendly as possible.
Just having access to a trusted scientific or religious perspective can be a great value as we strive for environmental harmony.
We are working in this second year to expand the Friendship Collaborative’s reach and to refine its goals. The intention is for the Friendship Collaborative to spread virally, with individuals attending workshops sharing their experiences and eventually leading their own workshops in neighboring towns or communities of colleagues. We encourage anyone interested in participating or hosting an event to please visit our website (www.friendshipcollaborative.org) and contact us directly. The website offers resources and support for hosting workshops, as well as follow-up activities that help participants continue to benefit from the relationships begun at each workshop.
We commend the efforts of all members of the Forum community for reaching across divides to help restore abundance and health to all life on the planet.
Blue Ocean Institute, www.blueocean.org