Month: October 2021

CEE Fall Update

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Join us TONIGHT! October 26th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm ET, for a screening of The Ants and The Grasshopper. This new film, directed by Raj Patel, follows Anita Chitaya as she battles hunger, sexism and climate change in her home in Malawi, through the heartland of the US midwest, to communities of people of color in Detroit, to the White House. Despite a language barrier, she’s able to reach patriarchs, climate skeptics, and deniers of equality through her fluency with the Bible.

Before the film screening, there will be a welcome by the film’s co-director, Raj Patel. Immediately following the screening there will be a panel discussion moderated by the Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union. The panel will feature the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center, Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, and Francine Johnson of the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign and Mileston Cooperative.

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More Upcoming Events…

On Friday, October 29, at 12:15 p.m. British Summer Time (7:15 a.m. in New York), Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, will deliver the opening address at “Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: Perspectives from Religion and Politics,” an international conference hosted by the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.  REGISTER


 

Postcolonial Poetics: Aliou Niang on the Human-Nature Relationship Friday, November 5, 2021 | 12 pm ET

Join Aliou Niang, associate professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary, for a talk on the human-nature relationship.

Columbia University Professor of French and of Philosophy Souleymane Diagne, who also directs the Institute of African Studies at Columbia, will offer a response to Niang’s presentation. Rev. Petra Thombs, executive director of the Ramapough Lenape Nation Community Center in Mahwah, N.J., will provide a reflection.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University.

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Gore to Deliver Opening Address at International Scholars Climate Conference on October 29

“Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: Perspectives from Religion and Politics”
Friday, October 29, 2021 – Online
7:15 a.m. New York | 12:15 p.m. Scotland | 1:15 p.m. Paris

On Friday, October 29, at 12:15 p.m. British Summer Time (7:15 a.m. in New York), Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics, will deliver the opening address at “Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: Perspectives from Religion and Politics,” an international conference hosted by the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.

The three-day virtual conference will address the theme of the United Nations Climate Conference, or COP26, which begins on November 1, in relation to religion and politics. Scholars from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas are scheduled to participate. The COP26 CSRP Scholars Conference is being hosted in conjunction with Scholars at the Peripheries (a group of scholars from the Global South) and Laudato Si’ International (a group that has been working to understand and deliver the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of the planet as the common home).

Aliou Niang to Discuss Postcolonial Biblical Criticism on November 5

Postcolonial Poetics: Aliou Niang on the Human-Nature Relationship
Friday, November 5, 2021 – Online
9 a.m. Los Angeles | 12 p.m. New York | 4 p.m. Dakar | 6 p.m. Paris

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How can we understand the Bible and other faith teachings in the context of today’s ecological crisis? How can we restore traditional practices that once directed a mutual relationship among God, humans and nature?

These are among the questions raised by Aliou Niang, associate professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary, in “A Poetics of Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: God, Human-Nature Relationship, and Negritude” (2019). Niang will discuss these and other issues raised in his book in a webinar on Friday, November 5, at noon Eastern Time.

Left to right: Aliou Niang, Souleymane Diagne, Petra Thombs

A native of Senegal and member of the region’s Diola people, Niang describes his book as “a humble reading of Scripture in conversation with Diola faith traditions.” He integrates the work of Léopold Sédar Senghor, the architect of the concept of Négritude, and other postcolonial theorists to “reposition the colonized” and learn from “people who have been negotiating life with nature since time immemorial and were aware of climate change since its onset.”

At the discussion, Columbia University Professor of French and of Philosophy Souleymane Diagne, who also directs the Institute of African Studies at Columbia, will offer a response to Niang’s presentation. Rev. Petra Thombs, executive director of the Ramapough Lenape Nation Community Center in Mahwah, N.J., will provide a reflection.

“Postcolonial Poetics: Aliou Niang on the Human-Nature Relationship” is co-sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University.

This webinar is free, but registration is required.

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PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES

Aliou Cisse Niang is associate professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Before joining Union, he served as assistant and associate professor of New Testament at Memphis Theological Seminary in Tennessee, where he was named The Rev. Dr. James L. Netters Associate Professor of New Testament and received The Paul R. Brown Distinguished Teaching Award. His previous books include “Faith and Freedom in Galatia and Senegal” (2009) and “Text, Image and Christians in the Graeco-Roman World: A Festschrift in Honor of David Lee Balch” (2012), which he co-edited with Carolyn Osiek.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is professor of French and of philosophy at Columbia University, where he also directs the Institute for African Studies. Before joining Columbia, he taught philosophy for many years at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar (Senegal) and at Northwestern University. He is the author of “African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude” (2011), “Bergson postcolonial. L’élan vital dans la pensée de Senghor et de Mohamed Iqbal” (2011), “The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa” (2016), and “Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with Western Tradition” (2018).

Petra Thombs is the executive director of the Ramapough Lenape Community Center in Mahwah, N.J., operated by the Ramapough Mountain Indians. She is in preliminary fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and was ordained in 2021. A graduate from Union Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and a major in church history, she focuses on the Doctrine of Discovery as it has fostered racism and extreme marginalization for Indigenous communities globally.

Karenna Gore Denounces “Terrible Burden” of Mountain Valley Pipeline

On the 49th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Executive Director Karenna Gore penned a guest column, “The common wealth of water,” in the Virginia Mercury. Gore urged Virginia’s state government not to certify the planned Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would bring fracked gas from West Virginia to southern Virginia.

“Virginians who live along this pipeline route are experiencing a terrible burden. It is financial, but it also goes far beyond that,” she writes. “They are forced to watch as the government hands over their landscape to private interests who damage it, all for the sake of a project that does not benefit them and should not even exist.”

READ THE ENTIRE COLUMN HERE 

The Time for Action Is Now: A Reflection for World Food Day

Tomorrow is World Food Day.

World Food Day began in 1979 to raise global awareness on poverty and hunger. This year, it is being observed just a few weeks after the end of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the culmination of 18 months spent gathering information from stakeholders around the world. The Summit aimed to raise awareness about our food systems and contextualize our current moment.

Our moment is troubling to say the least. Today, nearly 800 million people around the world wake up and go to bed hungry. That number is expected to dip somewhat as the world recovers slowly from Covid-19. But any number above zero is too high. As one portion of the world’s population is consumed by hunger, another is consumed by excess. The proliferation and marketing of ultra-processed foods has caused a spike of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. As human health declines, so does planetary health. Much is being done to address both.

Five Dialogues

In the lead up to the Summit, the Faith + Food Coalition hosted five dialogues with voices from faith-based groups, Indigenous communities, small farmers and food producers, and underrepresented communities. The dialogues demonstrated that our current situation doesn’t need to be this way. Solutions for our food systems problems are within reach; in fact, they’re already being implemented around the world. Agroecology practices and recovered traditional and Indigenous wisdom have helped transform local food systems, delivering nutritious and diverse foods.

The Coalition’s efforts attracted attention. After the dialogues, we were invited to present our findings to the WHO in June, during the UN’s Pre-Summit in July, and at a UN-sponsored “global dialogue” in September.

These two short videos from our dialogues highlight the struggle and the hope in front of us.

Interfaith Statement & Report

We recognized that not everyone would be able to watch all our dialogues, so the Coalition Steering Committee distilled the most salient insights and recommendations into two documents: the Faith + Food Interfaith Statement and a report.

First, our Interfaith Statement affirmed the universal right to healthy food, the importance of small producers, the irreplaceable role of women, Indigenous communities, and workers, and the interdependence of people and planet, among other conclusions. We are thrilled that nearly 100 organizations and individuals signed onto the statement in advance of the Summit. (You can read the full Interfaith Statement and view all the signatories here.)

The Coalition not only presented the statement to the Summit Secretariat and organizers but two Coalition members, Marium Husain and Steve Chiu, delivered a shortened version at the conclusion of the Summit’s morning session.

Faith + Food Coalition members Marium Husain, Joshua Basofin, Steve Chiu and Andrew Schwartz share their reflections on the UN Food Systems Summit.

Second, we produced a comprehensive report, Sustainable, Equitable, Resilient: An Ethical Approach to Global Food Systems, which provided a much deeper dive into the rich content of the five dialogues. We hope the recommendations and solutions captured in the report help in the great work of bringing about food systems transformation.

What’s Next

Our work didn’t stop with the Summit. On Monday, Oct. 18, I will moderate a breakout session, “Faith and Food: Cultivating Change Through Our Traditions” at the Parliament of the World Religion’s 2021 Meeting. Our Faith + Food Coalition partners will present the Interfaith Statement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, which begins in Glasgow on November 1. We want to keep pressure on Member States to achieve true food systems transformation.

What can you do? You can view the dialogues and read our report to learn more about the remarkable strides that individuals, Indigenous groups, grassroots organizations and faith communities are taking to improve food quality, access and security. You can sign on to the Interfaith Statement for yourself or your organization. And you can sign up for our Faith + Food Engagement List so that we can keep each other informed and share opportunities to contribute.

The time for action is now.

 

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect the session at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Indigenous Leaders to Discuss Water Ethics on October 7

Indigenous Water Ethics: A Traditional Dialogue
Thursday, October 7, 2021
9 a.m. Los Angeles | 12 p.m. New York | 6 p.m. Paris

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Water is fundamental to all life on Earth. Protecting water is essential for ecosystem restoration, biodiversity, food justice and calming the climate crisis. As we seek to build frameworks for regenerative systems, Indigenous peoples—who already safeguard water and hold ancestral knowledge and cultural practices necessary to support that work—deserve a place at the center.

Join the Center for Earth Ethics on Thursday, October 7, at noon Eastern Time, for a webinar, “Indigenous Water Ethics: A Traditional Dialogue.” Mona Polacca, senior fellow for CEE’s Original Caretakers Program, has assembled representatives of different Indigenous cultures to present their diverse perspectives and lived experiences stabilizing, protecting and creating resiliency for their communities’ water sources.

Speakers scheduled to appear in the dialogue are:

Rāwiri Tinirau, co-director of Te Atawhai o Te Ao, a Māori research institute focused on health and environmental research. He is also deputy chair of Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui, the post settlement governance entity for the Whanganui River settlement—the landmark 2017 case granting “personhood” to New Zealand’s Whanganui River.

Betty Lyons, president and executive director of the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA), an Indigenous and environmental activist, and citizen of the Onondaga Nation. She has worked for the Onondaga Nation for more than 20 years and is a fierce protector of Onondaga Lake and the Creek that connect the Nation to the body of water. Betty is co-chair of CEE’s Advisory Board.

Austin Nunez, chairman of the Wa:k—San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation located in the arid Sonoran Desert region of southwestern Arizona. He will present a case study about a 23-year legal challenge to regain his tribe’s inherent well and water rights.

CEE’s Original Caretakers Program promotes learning from Indigenous knowledge to address the ecological crisis. The program also supports wisdom keepers from Indigenous traditions, advocates for Indigenous rights and self-determination, and seeks the engagement of Indigenous peoples in economic development decisions.

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