Category: Eco-Ministry

Successful ‘On Food and Faith’ conference concludes

Originally published by Danny Russell, communications director at MTSO on June 5th, 2019

More than 100 religious leaders, scholars, scientists, farmers and activists gathered on the MTSO campus May 30-June 1 for “On Food and Faith: Ministry in the Time of Climate Change.” The conference was presented by MTSO, the Center for Earth EthicsThe Climate Reality Project and the Ohio State University Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT).

Karenna Gore and Tim Van Meter

“This is the first time that we have done this outside of Union Seminary,” said Center for Earth Ethics Director Karenna Gore at the opening plenary session. “We felt an incredible opportunity to come here and be at a place that is actually growing and harvesting food as part of the seminary.”

See the full event schedule.

Former Vice President Al Gore, founder and chairman of The Climate Reality Project, participated in all three days of the conference, delivering a multimedia climate presentation during the Day 2 plenary session.

Al Gore

In introducing Al Gore, MTSO President Jay Rundell highlighted his achievements and honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar and a Grammy Award. “What we sense here with you in our midst,” he told Gore, “is a certain synergy between the kinds of things you’ve committed yourself to and the kinds of things we’re about on an everyday basis.”

Early in his 90-minute talk, Gore spoke dramatically of the consequences of climate change, declaring, “We are in the process of visiting destruction upon God’s creation.” Still, he said, there is much good news, including dramatic strides in renewable energy: “It’s now cheaper in most parts of the world to get energy from solar and wind than to burn fossil fuels.”

“If anyone doubts for one moment that we as human beings have the will to change, just remember that the will to change itself is a renewable resource,” Gore concluded.

Also speaking on Day 2 was Ohio State Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science Rattan Lal, recipient of the 2019 Japan Prize, one of the most prestigious honors in science and technology.

Participants toured MTSO’s Seminary Hill Farm

“A part of the biomass produced by soil must be returned to it,” Lal told conference participants. “Taking away everything without returning any biomass is a robbery of the soil and a banditry.”

The conference also included 18 breakout sessions – ranging from “Islam, Ramadan and Hunger” to “Standing with Farm Workers.”

The session “Grief, Climate Change and Prophetic Hope” was moderated by Tim Van Meter, associate professor in MTSO’s Alford Chair of Christian Education and Youth Ministry. Van Meter, who also serves as MTSO’s coordinator of ecological initiatives, has worked with Karenna Gore on a number of projects, and their working relationship paved the way for MTSO to host “On Food and Faith.”

Jay Rundell leads the closing ceremony

Before conference participants toured MTSO’s Seminary Hill Farm on Day 1, Van Meter said, “I hope as you wander around with us, you’ll understand we have an incredible farm staff. And we have an incredible food staff. These are people we’re deeply, deeply grateful for.”

In brief remarks reflecting on the founding of the five-year-old farm, Rundell said, “Over time in our curriculum, we had a number of things happening that planted the seed, so to speak, for this work. Almost all religious traditions have some understanding of food in the center of who they are. We’re fairly deeply rooted in a number of Christian traditions here. We have sacramentalized food. We recognized that and found this was not so much doing something new but revitalizing our traditions.”

During Day 3’s final plenary session, a number of leaders and participants shared their reflections with the group. “If we can get people of faith to believe that the language we use is not geopolitical – it is spiritual language – then we can get this work done,” said MTSO Dean Valerie Bridgeman.

And 15-year-old Hadessa Henry of Indiana, who attended with her grandmother, Aster Bekele, founder of Felege Hiwot Center, inspired sustained applause with a plea: “Maybe next time we have this, we could invite more kids. We’re going to be here for a long time.”

Video and media coverage

See Karenna Gore explain why MTSO is the perfect place to talk about food and ministry and watch Al Gore discuss the opportunity to hold the conference on the MTSO campus on the MTSO website.

The Columbus Dispatch covered the conference with a newspaper story and this video:

View a Facebook photo album from the conference.

Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, social justice, theological studies and practical theology, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.

CONTACT:

Danny Russell, communications director
[email protected], 740-362-3322

On Food & Faith: 2019 Ministry in the Time of Climate Change Highlights; Beyond Religion; and More…

Dear Friends,

What a weekend!  We had 150 faith leaders, activists, farmers, academics, and community leaders from around the Midwest (coasts too!) come together at Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) to learn how our food systems and land use impacts and is impacted by climate change. There are so many highlights to share and here are two. One was touring Seminary Hill Farms at MTSO and seeing veggies harvested for dinner the next day. Another were the presentations from Dr. Rattan Lal and Mr. Al Gore who spoke of the massive challenges in front of us but also the opportunities for hope and change. Yes it will be hard but we left the training feeling more prepared, with a renewed sense of community, and ready to act. A special thanks to all of the speakers and participants at the training.  And of course, thank you to our partners the Climate Reality Project, the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation at Ohio State University, and MTSO.

Please enjoy our photo album of the event including several highlights from our speakers.

Andrew Schwartz, CEE Deputy Director 


CEE Team Members at MTSO left to right:  Karenna Gore, Peggy Cusack,
Andrew Schwartz, Mindahi Bastida, and Genie Cooper.

Original Caretakers Upcoming Events

Image result for pulitzer center beyond religion

Image result for mary evelyn tucker

CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida Munoz, will participate in a panel discussion on Religion and the Environment with Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Kalyanee Mam and Marianne Comfort. The panel will be moderated by Mary Evelyn Tucker, Co-Director, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University. For the full conference schedule , visit the Pulitzer Center website.  Beyond Religion will take place June 8-9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.


Environmental Justice: The Accidental Environmentalist

CEE’s Catherine Coleman Flowers at the MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL – Telluride, CO showing of THE ACCIDENTAL ENVIRONMENTALIST: Catherine Flowers.  
Watch this Documentary Short


Eco-Ministry & Sustainability and Global Affairs

CEE’s Director, Karenna Gore on today’s panel “Focus on Faith: Planting and Nurturing the Seed of Climate Responsibility” Civil Society Briefing at the UN in New York City.

CEE Spring / Summer Update

WORKING TOGETHER TO CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME:

Dear Friends,In Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis wrote, “It is essential to show special care for Indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed.”

Inspired, the Center for Earth Ethics partnered with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Forum 21 to host an intimate dialogue between Indigenous leaders and a representative from the Vatican. Read more…

The CEE Team


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT:

On May 17 and 18, Virginians from all across the state will unite in common cause to oppose unjust and unneeded fracked-gas pipelines anywhere in the Commonwealth, and to stand in solidarity for environmental justice and the climate.

On Friday, May 17, continuing the work of bringing people together for good, William Joseph Barber III, Co-chair of the N.C. Poor People’s Campaign Ecological Justice Committee, Karenna Gore (Center for Earth Ethics) and Pastor Paul Wilson (Union Grove Baptist Church) will join local leaders to march across the Robert E. Lee Bridge where 51 years ago, almost to the day, civil rights activists marched during Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice. We’ll end at the Oregon Hill Overlook for a concert and rally.  May 18th events will happen in Leesburg.  More information…

Join us for this important event! #noMVP #noACP


ORIGINAL CARETAKERS EVENTS DURING EARTH WEEK:

Indigenous leaders from around the world gathered at the United Nations Headquarters and at events throughout New York City during Earth Week.


Delegates from the Mapuche Nation and Likanantay brought awareness to Human Rights Violations at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


ECO-MINISTRY UPCOMING EVENTS:

Special Evening Event
Wednesday, May 22, 7 pm

An Evening with Karenna Gore
Director, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

The intersection of religion and the environment reflects on faith and love for the earth.
A reception follows.  

Throughout the Easter season, St. Bart’s is excited to present a variety of programs focusing on stewardship of the earth.  Other Upcoming Events in the series include: May 19th, Keep it Local: Addressing Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Climate Justice with Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, Uprose; and June 2nd, In the Garden: St. Bart’s and The Rooftop of the Waldorf-Astoria with Leslie Day, naturalist and author of Honeybee Hotel.

CEE Hosts Indigenous Leaders and Vatican Representative for Dialogue on a New Development Paradigm

In Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (2015) Pope Francis wrote, “It is essential to show special care for Indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed.”

Inspired, the Center for Earth Ethics partnered with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Forum 21 to host an intimate dialogue between Indigenous leaders and a representative from the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to discuss the wisdom that Indigenous traditions offer to the world as we forge a new development paradigm, and how we all may support them as they protect their land.

Among those present were Dr. Aliou Niang (UTS Professor), Ken Kitatani (Forum 21), Dr. Mindahi Bastida (Otomi; CEE), Karenna Gore (CEE), Chief Dwaine Perry (Ramapough Lenape), Chief Ninawa, Tom Goldtooth (Dakota / Dine; Indigenous Environmental Network), Betty Lyons (Onandaga / Haudenosaunee; American Indian Law Alliance), Francisca Calfin (Mapuche), Clara Soaring Hawk (Ramapough Lenape Deer Clan), Bernadette Demientieff (Gwich’in), Fr. Augusto Zampini, Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina (CEE), and Petra Thombs (CEE).

“We are Easter People and Hallelujah is Our Song”, Taking a Moment for Bees & Earth Week Events Announced

 

Dear Friends, Please enjoy We are Easter People and Hallelujah is Our Song – a gorgeous conversation on faith, spirituality, climate change and more with CEE Director, Karenna Gore hosted by Mary Anne Hitt & Anna Jane Joyner and produced by Zach Mack.  No Place Like Home is a podcast that gets to the heart of climate change through personal stories. CEE is proud to participate in the most recent NPLH conversation about climate & hope you will take time in the celebration of Earth, the beauty of Spring, and the very miracle of life to tell your stories with friends, family and neighbors!

– The CEE Team


We Love Pollinators!

As part of our preparation for the upcoming Minister’s Training: On Food and Faith, and in sync with Earth Day 2019’s focus on preservation of species, we take a moment for the most beloved of pollinators: the bees.

Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared,
“man would have only four years of life left”.

The die-off happening around the U.S. and some parts of Europe is serious for beekeepers, farmers and all us. Since the 1980s, the number of bees has diminished, but the recent die-offs have been severe. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was reported from at least 24 states as early as 2007.

In a recent study, “researchers found that the American Bumblebee’s area of occurrence has decreased by about 70 percent and its relative abundance fell by 89 percent from 2007-2016 compared to 1907-2006.”  Bees are important allies for humanity in supporting the restoration of Bio-Diversity on Earth.

Intergenerational Community Blessing of the Bees ~ Bees and Permaculture

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Earth Week Events


Global Perspectives on Indigenous Knowledge, Mental Health and Well-being: A Different Paradigm

Parallel Event for UN PFII 2019:
April 22nd, 1:15 – 2:30 pm
Room S-1521 in UN Headquarters: 405 East 42nd St, 1st Avenue, NYC
(Visitor’s Entrance, 46th St. & 1st Ave.)
The event will consist of a panel of speakers from various parts of the world. They will discuss the different approaches used by their communities to address growing issues of mental health and personal well-being.

CEE’s Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina to participate.
Organized by: Health Subcommittee of the NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, American Psychological Association, and Sunray Meditation Society.Co-sponsored by: NGO Committee on Mental Health, International Public Policy Institute,
and the International Federation of Social Workers.
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Indigeneity & the Defense of Mother Earth:
April 22, 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm UL104, University Center 63 5th Ave, NYC

With Tom BK Goldtooth (Dine’ & Dakota): Ex. Dir., Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigeneity & the Responsibilities of Scholar Activism:
April 23, 4-6 pm Kellen Auditorium, 66 5th Ave, NYC

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz: Director of the Original Caretakers Program at CEE, Coordinator of the Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council, Mexico and steering committee member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative and Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina: Scholar in Residence for the Center for Earth Ethics and Professor of Ethnoecology will join the panel in the April 23rd panel on Scholarly Activism as part of Earth Week at The New School.

With Manari Ushigua Santi, Akameno: Traditional healer & leader of the Sapara Nation in Ecuadorian Amazon;  Eduardo Kohn: Associate Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, specializing in the indigenous knowledges of Quichua (Quechua) speaking Runa of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon; Ronald Suárez Maynas: President of the Shipibo Conibo Xetebo Council of the Peruvian Amazon; Abou Farman: Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research; Suzanne Benally (Dine’): Executive Director of Cultural Survival; and Jaskiran Dhillon: Associate Professor of Global Studies, The New School.  More

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2019 Ministers Training Applications are Open!

Ministry in the Time of Climate Change:
On Food and Faith

May 30 – June 1, 2019

At Methodist Theological School in Delaware, OH


“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all.  It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
– Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Technological advances in the 20th and the 21st century offer many American consumers easy access to cheap and abundant food, much of which is traced to supply and labor chains around the world. The same advances have resulted in the depletion of soils, the overuse of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, greenhouse gas pollution, as well as increasing obesity and food related health issues. And within this system, millions in the U.S. and billions more across the globe go hungry each day. Food deserts persist across urban and rural America, and upwards of 41 million Americans are food insecure, 13 million of whom are children. This system keeps externalities hidden, supply high, and prices low affecting the long term health of soils, water, human beings and wildlife.

As climate change becomes more pronounced, communities around the world will have to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. This new model of resilience may entail some hardship, but it also brings the opportunity to create new, more robust community relationships with the land and one another. It is here that faith communities have unique opportunity to guide others by providing space, pastoral care, education and leadership.

This year’s conference will teach faith leaders how our current food system is contributing to the climate crisis, explore the impact climate change is having on farming and food security, and help empower attendees to take action on these issues in a way that aligns with their deepest values. The training is hosted by the Center for Earth Ethics, Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), and The Climate Reality Project. It will take place at MTSO May 30th-June 1st.

Applications:
Applications are open for the 2019 program. Application deadline is April 15, 2019. Applicants will be notified of decisions soon after.

Click here to submit an application.

Questions:
Please contact: Genie Cooper

The Second Best Time to Plant a Tree

Guest Post by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons

A hairy, naked male and a hairy, naked female crouch over the body of an antelope they’ve just killed. They’re looking up with fear and fight in their faces as a huge bird of prey swoops down to try to steal their kill. A jackal lurks in the background too, biding its time. It’s a frozen moment from a hundred thousand years ago, a flash in the life of a Neanderthal couple, reconstructed by scientists for a diorama at the Museum of Natural History. I saw this couple over Thanksgiving weekend when my family and I wandered into the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s strange and amazing.

This diorama especially grabbed me. I felt moved by it. My kids were fascinated. Something about it is so real and poignant. It must have been so much work to bring down that antelope. The couple is alone in the open landscape, vulnerable to all the fierceness of nature. I wondered if they ever got to just chill in their cave. Did they ever sing? Did they play? Did they love each other? Their Neanderthal bodies are wiry and strong, thin and scrappy from a lifetime of fighting for survival. They didn’t survive, of course, not that couple nor their entire species. The early hominids all went extinct, just like the dinosaurs before them. Unique expressions of the divine, like a single firework, exploding for a short time, showering light, and then gone.

How did they go extinct? Scientists say it was a mix of factors, possibly including violence from homo sapiens (that’s us) and definitely the pressures of climate change. Yes, they had climate change back then too – the deniers are right about that – the climate has always been changing. But it happened at a much slower pace – at least ten times slower than ours today. Even so, the pace of change was too fast – the landscapes and plants and animals morphed and the Neanderthals were unable to adapt.

Homo sapiens were able to adapt. Homo sapien means “wise man,” smart human, and our adaptability is a hallmark of our species. As long as we had a good thousand years before things were really different, we were able to make the changes that we needed to make in where we lived, what we ate, and what tools we used in time. We were able to figure it out. And the unique, unrepeatable spirit of life continued to flow through us.

This time around, we don’t have a thousand years to figure it out. We don’t even have a hundred years. According to the UN report that just came out about climate change, we have twelve years. That’s what they said. Twelve years. We have twelve years to radically transform our economy, especially the amount of energy that we use and how we generate it. From coal, oil, and gas to solar and wind. Energy from hell to energy from heaven. Twelve years. Now this is not adapting to climate change – that’s a whole other set of things we need to do. This is about preventing the climate from changing so dramatically and so quickly, that we are unable to adapt. My fellow homo sapiens, smart humans, we have twelve years.

And if we don’t? Best case scenario, the UN report warns of catastrophic flooding, droughts, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Worst case, some scientists believe we are heading toward the sixth mass extinction. We can hear the drumbeat clearly now – the fires in California getting worse every year, the hurricanes growing more violent, droughts around the world, deserts expanding, thousands being forced from their farmlands and becoming refugees. It’s happening in real time.

Hearing about this more and more these days, the drumbeat getting louder, I’ll tell you where I’m at personally. I feel scared for my children. They’re just eight years old now, Miriam and Micah. I’m scared for them of what kind of shifting, collapsing world they are going to have to make their way in. Even with all of their advantages as white, well-educated, relatively wealthy Americans, are they going to have to struggle to survive? And they both want children of their own. I was telling them recently about a celibate monk I had met and Micah had a strong negative reaction, saying how sad it would be to not have ancestors (by which he meant, descendants). And I wish I could gush about how great it will be for them to have children and for me to have grandchildren. Except I’m not sure how great it will be for those grandchildren.

——

I’m sad that they will never get to experience the untouched beauty of wilderness. Because what we’ve done touches everything, everywhere. I’m heartbroken for all that we’ve already lost, for the wilderness itself and the polar bears and countless other animals whose stars will burn out before their time.

I also feel an immense sense of personal responsibility. I am in a position of leadership where I have this soapbox to stand on and if I am not doing absolutely everything in my power to inspire and nurture and activate all of you, my congregation, to confront the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, then what the hell am I doing here? What even gives me the right to stand up here before you all? These questions keep me up at night.

And then… I get distracted from the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced by the mundane necessities of life. My sense of responsibility to defend my kids’ future gets hijacked by my kids’ need for help with their math homework. My sense of responsibility to plant a seedbed of revolutionary change here gets hijacked by the need to let everyone know that Facebook is doing a matching grant fundraiser on Giving Tuesday and we all should contribute on that day in time to get the matching grant.

And every single person I know is just like me in this respect. We all get absorbed in the work of life, and the joys of life, and the struggles of life, mostly doing things which, when you take them one at a time, are each valid and important, even noble. Some of us have trouble enough just making it through the day. Some of us are just trying to survive in an economy with virtually no safety net. Or an illness takes all our time and energy to manage. Or a family conflict. Or someone hacked our email or our bank account and we’re spending hours on the phone trying to sort it out. Someone breaks our heart and we’re spending a year feeling like we want to die. Or we fall in love and we’re just too damn happy to worry about anything.

Our political life follows the same pattern. Political debate centers on the vivid human suffering of our time. Our government teargassing children at the border, to take just one of thousands of nauseating examples. Politicians rarely – really almost never – talk about the existential elephant in the room. Partly because this is not what we’re talking about, for all the reasons I just listed. Partly it’s because fossil fuel companies and chemical manufacturers and big ag are paying a lot of money to make sure that we don’t talk about it. And to make sure that deregulation continues, that the science gets muddied, and that green referendums fail; to make sure that at this week’s G20 summit in Argentina our delegation is over there promoting fossil fuels. And for good measure, they work to suppress the votes of poor people and people of color who are most affected by environmental collapse because they might actually vote to change things.

—–

So is this how it’s going to go down? Good people are too busy and bad people are too smart? Homo sapiens, smart humans, is this really how it’s going to go down? You can imagine the diorama at the Museum of Natural History a hundred thousand years from now. (Yes, I’m aware that there probably won’t be Museums of Natural History with dioramas a hundred thousand years from now, but just indulge me for a minute.) The diorama depicts a homo sapien family in an industrialized nation at meal time. A female is lifting a package of food out of a microwave. A male is staring into a cellphone. A baby is drooling onto the plastic tray of a high chair, clutching something that looks like a beanie baby in one hand and a juice box in the other. A toddler is watching something on a tablet of some kind, laughing.

Next to the diorama, the information panel reads as follows: “Homo sapiens roamed the earth for a brief 200,000-year span. Their extinction was precipitated primarily by rapid climate change. Unlike the climatic shifts of previous eras, this climate change was largely caused by these apex predators themselves, specifically by the burning of the fossilized remains of all the creatures that had gone extinct before them.” (That’s what fossil fuels are, by the way – you cannot make this stuff up.) “It is unclear whether this burning was a religious ritual or had some other purpose. Archeological evidence suggests that homo sapiens had discovered solar energy long before their extinction. But their primitive form of social organization and rudimentary ability to share resources may have prevented them from addressing the global threat in time.”

Our primitive form of social organization – basically the powerful practicing dominionism over the earth and over those less powerful. Some of us say it’s all too big and we’re too late – we should have fixed this thirty years ago. And yes, in an ideal world, thirty years ago we would have switched to renewable energy, drastically reduced our consumption and waste, adopted plant-based diets, shared our wealth to alleviate the desperation of poor nations, and planted about ten million trees. We’d be having a very different conversation right now. But the conversation we are going to have in thirty years – or in twelve years – will depend entirely on what we do today. And I mean today. This week, this holiday season. They say the best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago. The second best time is now.

Never before in the history of planet earth has a species been able to foresee its own extinction. Never before has a species been able to prevent it. But we can. How do I know? Because there is something in us that rebels, in every cell, with every breath. Because when I open the eyes of my spirit really wide and I think that when you open yours really wide, we can see that our star, our fireworks is not ready to burn out yet. God, the pulsing life force of the universe, is not done moving through us. In fact, if anything, it’s pulsing stronger than ever now.

You can feel it in the air. The forces of change are stirring. We are understanding that all of our struggles are one. Many of us and many people we know have become activists for the first time in our lives as we recognize that we have to take power into our own hands. There are at least one million organizations working toward sustainability and social justice. Several of the newly-elected members of congress are representing communities that had little voice before and they are pushing for The New Green Deal. With the markings of evil so clearly scrawled right in front of us on national television every day, with the assaults on this earth and its people now unmistakable for anything else, we are rising up.

We have twelve years left and we have a moment before us to be seized. Right now, we need political action. We need to boycott corporations whose greed is killing us. Every week, we can make a phone call, write a letter, speak out at a town hall – we can do something to fight back. A new climate organization has started in Great Britain called Extinction Rebellion and there’s a chapter forming here in New York City. It’s about taking bold, direct action in defense of our future. I plan to be part of it and I invite you to join me. Blocking pipelines, getting arrested, physically obstructing the desecration of our ecosystems because asking nicely is just not working.

We need the extinction rebellion. But we need something else, too. It’s not enough to just resist evil. It’s not enough to just scream, “stop!” We need a revolution. We need a vision of a re-sanctified earth. We need a dream of who we can be as a species. I don’t believe that the great Cosmic Wisdom meant for us to stay stuck as homo sapiens. Homo sapiens have been smart humans with great technology, but primitive forms of social organization that divide and rank people based on race and gender and hoard resources. We can be better than that. We are meant to evolve into something else. That something else is of the heart and of the spirit; of deep compassion and broad vision: Homo amandi. Loving person.

Homo amandi creates life sustaining societies committed to restoring balance to the earth. Let’s do it right now. Let’s make the heart decision to evolve into homo amandi. Let’s compress the next thousand years of evolution into the next twelve. It will be the evolution revolution. And the best thing about it, is that every single one of us can participate in this revolution every day. We participate through our choices, through what we say in casual conversation, what we buy, what we click on, what we discard, and through who we are. Each action may seem trivial on its own, but we have to think big, think collectively, and ask, “what is it a part of? What is happening through me? Is it the sixth mass extinction? Or is it the evolution of homo amandi?”

We need the extinction rebellion and the evolution revolution both. We need to be saying “no” with all our might to the powers that are doing violence to the earth. And we need to be saying “yes” to a new way of living together in peace. I want it for my children and I know you will want it for yours and for all those you love. I want to be a blessing to the earth, not a curse; and I know you do too. My fellow homo amandi, join me in seizing the day, this day – the second best time ever – to plant a tree and become something new.

How to Start a Green Team Webinar – with Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley

Once something is up and going it seems like it’s always been there but how do we start? Many churches have begun green teams to help green their churches and become more involved in their larger communities. It’s a way to give back and to practice the stewardship we preach.

In this webinar, the Center for Earth Ethics and Climate Reality Project have teamed up with Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to discuss best practices for starting up a green team in your own faith community.

 

Reducing Waste Webinar

In Matthew 7:5 Jesus warns his followers to remove the beam from their eyes before speaking to the speck of dust in someone else’s eye.

As we look at the causes of climate change it’s easy to point out who the big polluters are and how they need to change. There is no doubt that fossil fuels emissions need to draw down to zero and that our friends in agriculture, tech, and manufacturing need to clean up how they do business. That much is obvious. What can be less obvious, though, is how our own lives and the institutions we frequent contribute to the problem. Are we making the changes we need to see in order to prevent climate change? I for one can say that I’m trying but there’s a lot of work left to do.

In this webinar, the Climate Reality Project and Center for Earth Ethics teamed up with Rev. Kate Mosely from Zero Waste Church to talk about reducing waste in our faith communities and the things we can do as individuals to lessen our overall footprint. You can find good tips on how to start a similar project in your own faith house too!

The ‘Epiphany’ of the Importance of Trees

As Twelfth Night passes, some celebrate King’s Day, others Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas in Irish), and others – still singing carols and drinking cider – go a Wassailing.

“Love and joy come to you and to you, your Wassail, too.  And God Bless you and send you a Happy New Year.  And God Send you a Happy New Year.”

The Wassail was a tree festivity.  A night to play, possibly to drink the cider fermented from Samhain – the Celtic New Year – and to pour libations out upon the roots of trees to ask for blessings upon the orchards.

Trees were an important part of early European culture.  They fed humans and animals alike with their nuts, fruits and seeds.  Each kind of tree was seen as having its own character and wisdom.  The first Irish language, Ogham, is often described as “the tree alphabet” because the letters were based on their unique qualities.  Invaders to Celtic lands cut and burned down the forests to decrease defensive cover for the native people.  Perhaps this history also inspires a longing to protect the trees that remain for present and future generations.

In a time when we have destroyed as much as 50% of our tropical forests globally, when we are learning that deforestation practices are significantly contributing to the increase of greenhouse gasses annually, that the absence of forests increases the devastation humans experience in the wake of drought / flood cycles – perhaps it is time to have an Epiphany as to the importance of trees.

Humans have a relationship with trees unlike any other part of nature.  A simple refresher course on how humans breathe ought to remind us of this as human beings inhale oxygen which enters the blood and is circulated throughout the body by the heart which returns the blood to the lungs so we can exhale carbon dioxide bi-product.  The trees then absorb the carbon dioxide and transform it back into oxygen with the help of the sun.  The trees are our counterparts to maintain balance in our environment and to sustain life.

On the exchange of Gasses:  “The exchange takes place in the millions of alveoli in the lungs and the capillaries that envelop them… inhaled oxygen moves from the alveoli to the blood in the capillaries, and carbon dioxide moves from the blood in the capillaries to the air in the alveoli.” 

How do Trees Help Us Breathe?

This January, take time to bless the trees – in your yard, in your neighborhood park, in your forests, in orchards, at your church or temple – anywhere and everywhere you interact with trees in your life.  It is said the trees talk to one another through their complex roots systems underground and if you tend to an old tree, a Mother Tree, or Guardian Tree that old one will communicate to all the others.  So send blessings to the trees for their flourishing and restoration.  Let us apologize for forgetting just how important they are to our survival.  Let us learn their names and attributes one more.  And let us protect them from the real world threats which would clear them unnecessarily, and lead to our demise.  In the spirit of a healthy New Year, to you and your Wassail too, let us go outside and bless the trees.

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A Druid Blessing for the Trees

A nine-fold blessing of the sacred grove
Now be upon all forests of Earth:
For willow of the streams, 
Hazel of the rocks,
Alder of the marshes,
Birch of the waterfalls,
Ash of the shade,
Yew of resilience,
Elm of the brae,
Oak of the sun,
And all trees that grow and live and breathe

On hill and brake and glen:
No axe, no saw, no fire shall harm you,
No mind of ownership shall seize you,
No hand of greed or profit claim you,
But grace of the stepping deer among you,
Strength of the running boar beneath you,
Power of the gliding hawk above you.

Deep peace of the running stream through your roots,
Deep peace of the flowering air through your boughs,
Deep peace of the shining stars on your leaves.

That the harp of the woods be heard once more
Throughout the green and living Earth.

– Mara Freeman, Honorary Chief Bard of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids – Copyright 2001, The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids

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To learn more about Forests, Deforestation and how to help, here are some resources:

Vandana Shiva:  Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Forest

UN Environment Programme: Forests

Stand4Forests Climate Plan from the Dogwood Alliance