The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
3.11 (November 2009)
1. Editorial, by Elizabeth McAnally
2. Religion, Science, and the Environment Symposium on the Mississippi River
4. New Books
5. Exhibit: "Climate Change in Our World"
6. New Blog: Congregational Resource Guide Green (http://green.congregationalresources.org)
7. Sewanee's Center for Religion and Environment
8. Sustainability: The Journal of Record
9. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
Welcome to the November issue of the Forum on Religion and Ecology newsletter. I have many exciting things to share with you this month, including information about new publications, recent and upcoming events, a photography exhibit, and much more. In particular, I would like to direct your attention to the recent Religion, Science, and the Environment symposium sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church. See below for a short summary of the symposium and links to related news articles.
Also, I am happy to inform you about the religion and ecology events that took place at the annual conference of American Academy of Religion (AAR) in Montreal, Quebec on November 7-10, 2009. I had the pleasure of attending this year’s conference, and am delighted to report that the field of religion and ecology was well represented. The Forum hosted its annual AAR lunch on Friday, November 6th, where participants shared their latest activities with regard to teaching and research. This is an occasion for people to meet one another and share common interests in the broad field of religion and ecology.
Throughout the AAR, diverse presentations in panels and workshops related to religion and ecology were hosted by the Religion and Ecology Group, the Animals and Religion Consultation, and the Sustainability Task Force. The presentations addressed a variety of topics, including animals, food, bioethics, justice, climate change, globalization, poetry, and the philosophical grounds of the emerging field of religion and ecology. The new Sustainability Task Force hosted two great events: one was a pre-conference workshop on how to teach about global warming in the context of religious studies, and the other was a panel on sustainability among Native American peoples. It was inspiring to hear so many thought-provoking presentations.
Amidst many handshakes, hugs, shared meals, and stimulating conversations, it was evident that religion and ecology is not simply a field of study, but is also a matter of personal connections and face to face relationships. With an intimate lunch hosted by the Forum, along with many discussions during and between presentations, the AAR provided time for new introductions to be made and for longtime friendships to be rejuvenated. Next year’s meeting of the AAR will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 30-November 1, 2010. It would be wonderful if you could come and join the Forum community as we explore together the field and the force of religion and ecology.
I am also pleased to let you know that last year the Parliament of the World's Religions asked the Forum to assist in creating panels on world religions and ecology. This has been done, and there will be a fresh new emphasis on the environment at the Parliament. In addition, the Forum arranged for panels on the Earth Charter, Thomas Berry's legacy, the Renewal film, the Journey of the Universe film, and a new film on plants called Numen. The Parliament will take place in Melbourne from December 3-9, 2009.
California Institute of Integral Studies
Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale
Web Content Manager & Newsletter Editor
2. Religion, Science, and the Environment Symposium on the Mississippi River
The 8th Symposium of Religion, Science, and the Environment (RSE) organized by the Greek Orthodox Church under the auspices of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was held in New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee on October 21-25, 2009. The Symposium was titled “Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River.” Drawing attention to the erosion, sea level rise, pollution, and storms of the Mississippi River, this Symposium reached out across different faiths and denominations, revealing the wisdom of diverse theological traditions, as well as a common imperative to protect the natural world. One goal of this gathering was to push for a successful outcome of international climate talks this December in Copenhagen. Forum co-directors Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim participated in the symposium ( their 5th) by chairing panels and by presenting the film Journey of the Universe that they are making with Brian Swimme.
Past RSE Symposia have drawn global attention to the degradation of the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, the Danube River, the Adriatic Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Amazon River. Travelling down rivers and around seas, sometimes literally following pollution from its source to its point of impact, these waterborne journeys have offered up a tangible sense of the interconnectedness of the world’s waters and all its ecosystems, demonstrating the destructive ripples human actions can send through space and time. By bringing participants to the places where environmental problems are most acute and focusing on practical remedies rather than theoretical discussions, RSE Symposia have inspired positive change through collective action.
For More Information, see the news articles below:
“Religious leaders gather in Memphis and New Orleans as sea level rise threat grows”
October 19, 2009
“Orthodox leader calls for environmental action”
October 23, 2009
By The Associated Press
“Our Indivisible Environment: If life is sacred, so is the entire web that sustains it”
October 25, 2009
By The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
The Wall Street Journal
For Further Information, visit the website of Religion, Science, and the Environment: www.rsesymposia.org
Parliament of the World's Religions
December 3-9, 2009
For More Information, visit: www.parliamentofreligions.org
“Environment & Spirit”
Centre for Peace
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
November 20-21, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.canadianmemorial.org/
“Sacred Water: Sustaining Life”
14th Annual Festival of Faiths
Center for Interfaith Relations
Louisville, KY, USA
November 4-13, 2009
For More Information, visit: www.interfaithrelations.org
"Many Heavens, One Earth: Faith Commitments for a Living Planet"
Sponsored by Alliance for Religion and Conservation and UN Development Programme
Hosted by Prince Philip (HRH the Duke of Edinburgh)
Mary Evelyn Tucker presented the work of the Forum.
Windsor Castle, United Kingdom
November 2-4, 2009
For More Information, visit: www.windsor2009.org
2009 Global Environmental Action (GEA) International Conference
Sponsored by UN University, UN Environment Programme, and the Japanese Government including Ministry of Environment, etc.
Promoting Technologies and Policies toward a Low Carbon Society
Keynote speeches were given by the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister.
Mary Evelyn Tucker gave a presentation on values for sustainability from the world's religions and the Earth Charter.
Prince Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
October 16 - 17, 2009
For More Information, visit: http://www.gea.or.jp/
The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation
By Mark Hathaway and Leonardo Boff
Orbis Books, 2009
Today, humanity stands at an historic crossroads. Deepening poverty and accelerating ecological destruction challenge us to act with wisdom and maturity: How can we move toward a future where meaning, hope, and beauty can truly flourish?
Drawing on insights from economics, psychology, science, and spirituality, The Tao of Liberation seeks wisdom leading to authentic liberation a path toward ever-greater communion, diversity, and creativity for the Earth community. It describes this wisdom using the Chinese word Tao both a way leading to harmony and the unfolding process of the cosmos itself.
This book is part of the Ecology and Justice Series in which Thomas Berry's latest book, The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth, was also published.
Religion, Ecology & Gender: East-West Perspectives
Edited by Sigurd Bergmann and Yong-Bock Kim
Studies in Religion and the Environment/Studien zur Religion und Umwelt, Vol. 1, 2009
The understanding of nature is at the heart of European self - understanding, while in Asia the terms of life and energy play a similar central role. Globally, many institutions and movements have made the protection of the environment and climate a top policy priority. Given the urgency of environmental problems the lack of reflections about the human and especially the spiritual dimension of environmental problems is striking.
Environmental - and - climatic change transforms not only culture, politics, and economy, but also religion. Religious traditions have on the one hand always been dependent on human ecologies; on the other hand they vibrantly affect our perceptions of nature and sociocultural practices with(in) it.
If life and religion change dramatically at present, how could religion make a change? How are religious and ecologic processes gendered, and how can ecofeminism deepen our understanding of justice? What are the life - enhancing spiritual resources in the East and the West? How can Christian theology contribute to the necessary eco - cultural revolution ahead of us? And how can Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Christian spiritualities cooperate in a common space and future?
Questions like these are reflected upon by scholars of religion and theology from Korea, Canada and Scandinavia. Their chapters emerge from an international workshop, which was arranged and convened by the editors 2007 in Yecheon on the Korean countryside and in Seoul. The book offers the 1st volume in a new series established by the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment.
In the Beginning is the Icon: A Liberative Theology of Images, Visual Arts and Culture
By Sigurd Bergmann
Equinox Publishing, 2009
In the Beginning is the Icon (translated from the Swedish edition, published by Proprius Förlag in 2003) aims to contribute to raising awareness about the intrinsic value of images and image perception among those who wish to reflect over God and over pictorial expressions of different experiences from encounters with divinity in earthly and historical situations. Reflections from iconology, art theory, philosophical aesthetics, art history, and the fairly recent field of anthropology of art intersect with reflections from Theology and Religious studies.
A central question is how God, through human creation and observation of pictures, can have a liberating function in images. Within the context of a liberation theological approach to the interpretation of God and an aesthetic that focuses on the love of the poor, the final chapter develops a constructive proposal for a contextual art theology. In the globalised mass production of pictures, the pedagogy of art and iconology has a special significance in contributing to humanisation and the liberation of man. The roles of the hand and the eye for learning make up central and crucial notions within liberation pedagogy. The extended time period that is needed to orientate in the visual sphere is in itself a political counterforce to the violation of natural space and a natural passing of time caused by the acceleration of technological developments.
In light of the impact of both art and religion within a world of geographical and historical relations, and with a critical edge toward Western art reflection and the egocentric, Euro-centric character of religious interpretation, the chapter about “world art” is an independent contribution in the book’s structure. Even though the research history of ethnography and anthropology also reflects this ethnocentricity shared by art and religious studies, the newly established anthropology of art offers important perspectives for a cross-cultural art theology.
Coming Back to Earth: From gods to God to Gaia
By Lloyd Geering
Edited with an introduction by Tom Hall
Polebridge Press, 2009
The mainline churches in the Western world are declining, concludes Lloyd Geering, because they are “all out of step” with the modern secular world. This is not so much a result of the supposed renegade behavior of the secular world as the failure of the church to take the next steps in its path of faith. Abraham left his idols behind to go out into the unknown. In contrast, the churches reveal a lack of faith by insisting on an infallible Bible and a set of unchangeable doctrines tailored to an obsolete worldview. In Coming Back to Earth, Geering calls upon us to complete the work of the Second Axial Age by bringing the sacred—banished to an imaginary heavenly realm in the wake of the First Axial Age—back to earth.
The Gift of Creation: Images from Scripture and Earth
Edited by Norman Wirzba
Photography by Tom Barnes
Acclaim Press, 2009
The Gift of Creation: Images from Scripture and Earth is a beautiful book featuring vivid images of the Earth and the varied forms of life that call it home. Coupled with the images are biblically-based essays, written by notable academics and scholars from around the globe, exploring what scripture really says about caring for God’s creation, as well as a scientific assessment of the state of the Earth. These essays give a current state of the environment and a poignant and much-needed treatise on humanity’s role in caring for God’s creation. Edited by Norman Wirzba with photographs by Tom Barnes, The Gift of Creation reveals the splendor of nature in its varied landscapes, flora and fauna. The text reminds us to cherish and care for God's great gift.
A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future
By Roger S. Gottlieb
Paperback version, Oxford University Press, 2009
In a time of darkening environmental prospects, frightening religious fundamentalism, and moribund liberalism, the remarkable and historically unprecedented rise of religious environmentalism is a profound source of hope. In A Greener Faith, Roger S. Gottlieb chronicles the promises of this critically important movement, illuminating its principal ideas, leading personalities, and ways of connecting care for the earth with justice for human beings. He also shows how religious environmentalism breaks the customary boundaries of "religious issues" in political life. Asserting that environmental degradation is sacrilegious, sinful, and an offense against God catapults religions directly into questions of social policy, economic and moral priorities, and the overall direction of secular society. Gottlieb contends that a spiritual perspective applied to Earth provides the environmental movement with a uniquely appropriate way to voice its dream of a sustainable and just world. Equally important, it helps develop a world-making political agenda that far exceeds interest group politics applied to forests and toxic incinerators. Rather, religious environmentalism offers an all-inclusive vision of what human beings are and how we should treat each other and the rest of life.
Gottlieb deftly analyzes the growing synthesis of the movement's religious, social, and political aspects, as well as the challenges it faces in consumerism, fundamentalism, and globalization. Highly engaging and passionately argued, this book is an indispensable resource for people of faith, environmentalists, scholars, and anyone who is concerned about our planet's future.
"Climate Change in Our World," an exhibit of large-scale color photographs from Gary Braasch's book Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World, is now showing at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Headquarters in Washington DC. "How We Know About Our Changing Climate: Learning and Taking Action on Climate Change" is an educational exhibit and video installation which accompanies the show. Images from the book How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming and the film series Young Voices on Climate Change will teach and inspire school groups and families. This exhibit is co-created by Lynne Cherry, co-author with Braasch of the book and producer of the films.
The show runs from November through mid-March, 2010. Exhibits are open weekdays from 8am-5pm at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20005).
For more information, visit: http://www.earthunderfire.com/pages/exhibit.html
6. New Blog: Congregational Resource Guide Green (www.congregationalresources.org)
The Congregational Resource Guide (CRE) has long been recognized as the leading portal for information of interest to clergy, lay leaders, and laity in a variety of congregations and faiths (www.congregationalresources.org). CRE is pleased to announce the launch of CRG Green, a blog dedicated to discussing the best resources available on the web and in press related to green resources for congregational life. The blog can be found at:
7. Sewanee's Center for Religion and Environment
Sewanee: The University of the South created the Center for Religion and Environment in order to develop educational programs and public forums that unite environmental learning and action with faith practices. The Center connects the University's College of Arts and Sciences, its School of Theology, and its All Saints’ Chapel. It is the latest manifestation of Sewanee’s long-time commitment to the environment.
The Center makes the most of Sewanee’s unique situation, which brings together a first-rate environmental studies program offering both scientific and humanities/social policy dimensions, the diverse resources of a theological seminary and a liberal arts college, the inter-faith engagements of All Saints' Chapel, and the practical benefits of a 13,000-acre campus that serves as an enormous land laboratory.
The Center will develop programs for Sewanee undergraduate students and seminarians; church administrators and lay leaders; youth leaders; and business, environmental, and civic leaders who may or may not be members of faith communities. These programs will address environmentally-oriented spiritual growth and integrate theological environmental perspectives with the insights of natural and social sciences.
For More Information, visit: http://www.sewanee.edu/cre
Sustainability: The Journal of Record (http://www.liebertpub.com/products/product.aspx?pid=252) meets the needs of the rapidly growing community of professionals in academia, industry, policy, and government who have the responsibility and commitment to advancing one of the major imperatives of this young century.
The Journal provides the information and resources to foster collaboration and move forward the imperatives of the preservation and sustainability of global resources.
Each issue contains news and commentary; innovators in sustainability; profiles of corporate sustainability programs; tools for implementing sustainability programs on campus; provocative roundtable discussion; peer reviewed articles; books, web, and other resources; new products; and meetings and conferences.
Members of the Forum on Religion and Ecology can purchase the Journal with a special $63 online subscription offer (a $79 value). Please go to http://www.liebertpub.com/products/product.aspx?pid=252 to automatically receive your discount.