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June 2010

The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
4.6 (June 2010)

Contents:

1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

2. “Towards a New Economy and a New Politics,” by Gus Speth

3. Journey of the Universe Project

4. Events

5. “A Great Urgency: To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders,” by Chief Arvol Looking Horse

6. Strong Evidence on Climate Change Underscores Need for Actions to Reduce Emissions and Begin Adapting to Impacts

7. National Council of Churches Climate Change Leadership Training Program (September 8-10, 2010 in Washington, DC, USA)

8. Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

9. The New Community Project

10. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

 



  

 

1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

 

Greetings!

 

Welcome to the June issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. We have a lot of exciting news to share with you regarding recent and upcoming developments in the field of religion and ecology, including conferences, articles, a film, climate change leadership training, faith-based organizations, and more. This newsletter echoes many of the themes of World Environment Day, which was celebrated on June 5th. Dedicated to raising awareness and political action in response to environmental issues, World Environment Day was initiated by the United Nations General Assembly following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972.  This year’s theme highlights the planetary importance of biodiversity:  "Many Species. One Planet. One Future."  For more information on World Environment Day, please visit: http://www.unep.org/wed/2010/english

 

We begin this month’s newsletter by featuring an article by Gus Speth, former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and now professor at Vermont Law School. Speth discusses the economic, social, political, and environmental crises that our Earth community is currently facing. He claims that a sustainable response to these crises requires new models of economics and politics and a transformation of the core values that form the basis of the current economic and political order. Speth enjoins us to envision and enact new values that would support a sustainable and just economy and politics. 

  
We are pleased to announce a new website for the Journey of the Universe project (www.journeyoftheuniverse.org), which is a collaboration of Mary Evelyn Tucker and cosmologist Brian Swimme. The project involves a film, a book, and an educational DVD series, which will be available in 2011. The film was inspired by the New Story of Thomas Berry, a cultural historian who wrote The Universe Story with Swimme. Drawing on the latest scientific knowledge to tell the story of cosmic and Earth evolution, the Journey of the Universe aims to inspire a new and closer relationship with Earth in a period of growing environmental and social crisis. We also want to announce a panel discussion on Journey of the Universe sponsored by the Forum on Religion and Ecology. It will take place in San Francisco, CA, on Thursday June 17th. For more information, see below. 

 

We also want to direct your attention to some information about global climate change.  First, we would like to share an article about some recent reports released by the National Research Council. These reports discuss the current state of climate science, and they call for the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take action to begin adapting to the impacts of climate change.   

 

Religious perspectives are an integral component of any comprehensive effort to develop sustainable solutions to the challenges of climate change. We are pleased to point out two examples of religious responses to climate change. The National Council of Churches is organizing a climate change leadership training program, which will bring together leaders from multiple denominations for a three-day intensive training retreat and subsequent distance learning. This training program is dedicated to promoting religious advocacy in response to issues of climate change and, more generally, promoting care for God’s creation.

 

Another example of a religious response to climate change is the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, which began in 2006 in an effort to coordinate the Catholic community and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address the moral and religious implications of climate change (http://catholicsandclimatechange.org). For more information, see below, including an opportunity to sign up for the Coalition’s email newsletter, which provides updates regarding Catholic efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change and care for creation.     

 

We hope that this newsletter provides opportunities for you to develop your own responses to climate change and other environmental problems, further your engagement with the intersection of religion and ecology, and deepen your participation in the wondrous journey of cosmic and Earth evolution. 

 

Warm wishes,
Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

California Institute of Integral Studies

Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale

Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors

http://www.yale.edu/religionandecology
(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 


 

 

2. “Towards a New Economy and a New Politics,” by Gus Speth

May 28, 2010

“Towards a New Economy and a New Politics”


By Gus Speth, Vermont Law School

Founder of National Resources Defense Council and World Resources Institute

Former head of United Nations Development Programme

Former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies


If America’s present system of political economy were performing well, there would be little need to question it or seek fundamental change. But that is not the case. Asked what the key goals of economic life should be, many would reply, “to enhance social well-being while sustaining democratic prospects and environmental quality.” Judged by this standard, today’s political economy is failing. It is a failure that reaches many spheres of national life—economic, social, political, and environmental. Indeed, America can be said to be in crisis in each of these four areas.

 

The economic crisis of the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street financial excesses has stripped tens of millions of middle class Americans of their jobs, homes, and retirement assets and plunged many into poverty and despair.

 

A social crisis of extreme and growing inequality has been unraveling America’s social fabric for several decades. A tiny minority have experienced soaring incomes and accumulated grand fortunes, while wages for working people have stagnated despite rising productivity gains and poverty has risen to a near-30-year high. Social mobility has declined, record numbers of people lack health insurance, schools are failing, prison populations are swelling, employment security is a thing of the past, and American workers put in more hours than workers in other high-income countries.

 

An environmental crisis, driven by excessive human consumption and waste and a spate of terrible technologies, is disrupting Earth’s climate, reducing Earth’s capacity to support life, and creating large-scale human displacement that further fuels social breakdown.

 

And a political crisis is reflected in governmental paralysis and a democracy that is weak, shallow, and corrupted—the best democracy that money can buy.

 

The case for fundamental change is underscored especially by the urgency of environmental conditions. Here is one measure of that problem: All that human societies have to do to destroy the planet’s climate and biota and leave a ruined world to future generations is to keep doing exactly what is being done today, with no growth in the human population or the world economy. Just continue to release greenhouse gases at current rates, just continue to impoverish ecosystems and release toxic chemicals at current rates, and the world in the latter part of this century won’t be fit to live in. But, of course, human activities are not holding at current levels -- they are accelerating dramatically. It took all of history to build the $7 trillion world economy of 1950; recently, economic activity has grown by that amount every decade. At typical rates of growth, the world economy will now double in size in less than 20 years. We are thus facing the possibility of an enormous increase in environmental deterioration, just when we need to move strongly in the opposite direction.

 

For full article, visit: http://thesolutionsjournal.com/node/619

 


  

 

3. Journey of the Universe Project

 

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce a new website for the Journey of the Universe project which we have been working on with cosmologist Brian Swimme.  This project involves a film, a book, and an educational DVD series, which will be available in 2011.

 
To visit the new website, go to:
www.journeyoftheuniverse.org
 
The goal of the Journey of the Universe is to tell the story of cosmic and Earth evolution drawing on the latest scientific knowledge. It aims to inspire a new and closer relationship with Earth in a period of growing environmental and social crisis. The film evokes a shared sense of wonder as we find ourselves in the presence of the immense, complex, and self-organizing creativity of the universe and Earth.

 

The film was inspired by the New Story of Thomas Berry, a cultural historian who wrote The Universe Story with Brian Swimme.
 
If you would like to share the news about the project, please add the URL as a link to your website.
 
On THURSDAY JUNE 17th at 6 PM, the Forum on Religion and Ecology is sponsoring a panel discussion on Journey of the Universe at GRACE CATHEDRAL in SAN FRANCISCO, CA.

Address: 1100 California Street. Room: Wilsey Conference Center.
 
It is free and open to the public.

 
Discussants:
 
Brian Swimme, California Institute of Integral Studies

Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University

Paula Gonzalez, Sisters of Earth

Scott Sampson, University of Utah
 
Introduction:
 
Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California

With warmest wishes,  

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Coordinators of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale
http://www.yale.edu/religionandecology 

 


 

 

4. Events

 

“Sacred Earth: Spirituality and Sustainability”
Keynote address by Sr. Miriam Therese MacGillis
Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA, USA
June 11-13, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.ssjearthcenter.com/

 

“Earth Democracy”
Lecture by Dr. Vandana Shiva
The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY, USA
July 7, 2010
For More Information, contact: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  

 

"The Wisdom of Women, The Wisdom of the Indigenous"
Sisters of Earth Biennial Conference
Keynote by Vandana Shiva
Riverdale, NY, USA
July 8-11, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://sistersofearth.net

“Thomas Berry and the Great Work of Our Time”
Summer Institute at Sophia Center in Culture & Spirituality
Holy Names University, Oakland, CA, USA
July 15-18, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.hnu.edu/sophia/

 
“The Great Work: Making It Personal”
Post Institute Retreat
Summer Institute at Sophia Center in Culture & Spirituality
Holy Names University, Oakland, CA, USA
July 18-20, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.hnu.edu/sophia/

 

“God, Humanity and the Cosmos”
The Queen's Foundation, Birmingham, United Kingdom
September 4, 2010
For more details and registration form, visit: http://www.srforum.org/


“Nature and Human Nature”
Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section
Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society
St. Anne's College, Oxford
September 10-12, 2010
http://www.bps.org.uk/

 


 

 

5. “A Great Urgency: To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders,” by Chief Arvol Looking Horse

May 14, 2010

My Relatives,

Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things.

As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations, eventually all will be affect from the oil disaster in the Gulf.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I ask, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth. As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc'I Maka).

We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop. That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. Pray for the people to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children's future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
http://wolakota.org/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arvol-looking-horse/oil-spill-a-great-urgency_b_576907.html?page=2&show_comment_id=47205774#comment_47205774  

 


 
6. Strong Evidence on Climate Change Underscores Need for Actions to Reduce Emissions and Begin Adapting to Impacts

 


May 19, 2010

WASHINGTON — As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the National Research Council today issued three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.  The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as America's Climate Choices.

"These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences.  "But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond."


To read “Strong Evidence on Climate Change Underscores Need for Actions to Reduce Emissions and Begin Adapting to Impacts,” click here:


http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=05192010

 


 

 

7. National Council of Churches Climate Change Leadership Training Program (September 8-10, 2010 in Washington, DC, USA)


The Key Leaders Initiative will identify 18 denominational/communion leaders from a broad spectrum of religious institutional life in various regions across the country and provide critical training and support to religious leaders as they advocate for action on climate change. The training will include a foundational three-day intensive training retreat with a follow-up distance learning session to help the identified participants become anchor points and outspoken advocates for addressing climate change within the context of their own ministry. The hands-on training retreat will include background information on climate change and its connection to justice and poverty, spiritual reflection, fellowship, methodology for incorporating climate work into existing ministries, and ideas for worship and education resources. Participants will be provided with lodging and food, along with a travel stipend. Participants will be expected to utilize the training in order to incorporate caring for God’s creation into their existing ministries. The retreat will be held in the Washington, DC, region September 8-10, 2010. Deadline for application: July 15, 2010.


For more information and to apply, email Cassandra Carmichael at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 


  

 

8. Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

 
What are the moral implications of climate change? Who is most impacted? What should the Catholic community do? The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched in 2006 to help the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community address these issues.  Learn about Catholic Principles and Teachings applied to the issue of global climate change:

  • Prudencethoughtful, deliberate, and reasoned action
  • Poverty—concern for those least able to bear the burden
  • The Common Good—promotion of solidarity over self-interest

Catholic Coalition on Climate Change supports and complements USCCB’s Office of Social Development and World Peace and the bishops' Environmental Justice Program. The Coalition is funded with generous assistance from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

Put your Catholic faith into action on climate change. Sign up and you’ll stay up-to-date with how you can put your faithful stewardship into action. You will receive:

  • Regular email updates about Catholic activities on climate change
  • Action alerts reflecting the U.S. Bishops’ public policy priorities
  • News from the Vatican, the U.S. Bishops, state Catholic conferences, dioceses, and parishes on their efforts to care for Creation

To sign up for the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change email newsletter, visit: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5256/t/2114/signUp.jsp?key=162

 

For more on the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, visit: http://catholicsandclimatechange.org/



 


 

 

9. The New Community Project


The New Community Project is a faith-based nonprofit organization with the modest goal of changing the world. Based in Elgin, IL, NCP has a national network and international partners in Nepal, Burma, Ecuador Amazon, El Salvador, Sudan, and Guatemala. The organization seeks to offer "resources that challenge us, experiences that change us, and a community that gives us hope," with their efforts centered on peace through justice, care for creation and experiential learning. NCP maintains a Sustainable Living Homestead in Harrisonburg, VA and offers Learning Tours to the countries mentioned above as well as to the Arctic.

 

NCP differs from some groups in its focus on calling US citizens and people of faith in particular to responsible living rather than primarily attempting to influence national legislation, believing that the deep changes needed in our society and world will need to come from the bottom up. NCP also calls for attention to economic justice as well as ecological sustainability. To promote its vision, NCP staff make over 150 presentations per year in schools, colleges, churches, youth events, ecumenical settings, and other venues. NCP has a special interest in empowering youth and young adults.

 

While not primarily a development or environmental preservation group, NCP does maintain a Special Projects fund from which grants of some $60,000 annually are given to partners in support of girls' education, women's development, reforestation, and rainforest preservation. 

 

NCP’s Learning Tours, intergenerational trips of 10-21 days in length, visit these partners to build relationships, learn about the impacts of US corporations and government policies, better understand the linkages between our lives and theirs, express solidarity and promote advocacy, and seek our own transformation. In the context of learning about social, economic, environmental, political and religious dynamics of a country and/or culture, the delegations seek to live simply, respect cultural differences, and build community within their group.

 

Currently, NCP has a network of some 7000 people, most of whom are from the United States. Support for the organization primarily comes from this network, along with fees for service and occasional grants from congregations or other entities. While from the Christian tradition, NCP works with interreligious partners around the world and welcomes to their circle persons of any persuasion who share their guiding principles.

 

NCP’s logo is an “upside-down” globe, inspired both by their commitment to seeing the world in a different way and by Acts 17:6, where followers of Jesus are seen as “turning the world upside down” by proclaiming another king besides Caesar.

 

For more information on the New Community Project or to sign up for mailings or a Learning Tour, visit http://www.newcommunityproject.org/

 

 


  

 

10. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

 

Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology has as its focus the relationships between religion, culture and ecology world-wide. Articles discuss major world religious traditions, such as Islam, Buddhism or Christianity; the traditions of indigenous peoples; new religious movements; and philosophical belief systems, such as pantheism, nature spiritualities, and other religious and cultural worldviews in relation to the cultural and ecological systems. Focusing on a range of disciplinary areas including Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology and Theology, the journal also presents special issues that center around one theme. For more information, visit: http://www.brill.nl/wo

 
For more information on other journals related to religion and ecology and to environmental ethics/philosophy, visit: http://fore.research.yale.edu/publications/journals/index.html. If you know of a publication that needs to be added to this list, email (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).