The Center for Earth Ethics honors the life of James Cone, beloved teacher and writer. Below we share some of his work, the impact of his pioneering spirit, and thoughts from those he touched.
James Cone, the cross, and the lynching memorial
Religion News Service published this compelling piece on April 30th by Jemar Tisby, founder of Witness: A Black Christian Collective.
On April 26 America received its first-ever memorial dedicated to the more than 4,000 victims of lynching in this country. Two days later, James Cone, the acclaimed author of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” died.
The opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala., and the passing of a theological legend coincide in ways that provoke thoughts about the spiritual implications of American racism. How do the cross and the lynching tree represent both injustice and redemption? How do we confront the dark truths of our past to create a future that is brighter for all people?
Video and transcripts of James Cone’s November 2007 Interview with Bill Moyers including the link to Dr. Cone’s lecture, “Strange Fruit: The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” at Harvard Divinity School.
Tribute to James Cone Union Theological Seminary invited guests to post memories, thoughts, and meaningful experiences they’ve shared with him. Responses came from throughout the Union community and from around the world.
We join in concert celebrating and honoring his remarkable life. With thanks.
The Center for Earth Ethics Team
December 6, 2017, CEE had the pleasure to co-host Collaborations Across Borders in New York City with the Human Impacts Institute. This one-night Human Impacts Salon featured live performances by Lemon Guo, Angel Nafis, and Lyla June Johnston, exploring how we are working together in innovative ways to take climate action.
Original Caretakers Fellow, Lyla June Johnston, offered a poem titled The Borders Between You and Me. You can see a video of her performance here.
The evening’s panel was asked to engage the question “What Really Are the Roots of Climate Change?”, which seemed simple but led to a 90 minute discussion punctuated by artist’s interpretation of the same question.
The panel, moderated by Tara DePorte, director of HII, was a unique intersection of perspectives from Lyla June Johnston, CEE Original Caretakers Fellow; Karenna Gore, CEE Director; Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, CEE Advisor; and Anton Hufnagl, Counsellor for Climate, Environment and Urban Affairs at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.
To see a video of the event panel presentation, click here.
This semester, The Center for Earth Ethics is initiating a new time of serious inquiry as individuals, as collaborators and as leaders in an ever-changing landscape, geographically and politically. Our goal is to address the root cause of climate change—an economic development model based on short-term profit, no matter what the cost to people and planet. We envision a world in which value is measured according to the long-term well being of the whole. We believe that this value system can be achieved through a combination of the restoration of older traditional ways and the inclusive, equitable application of new technologies.
Thank you for being a part of our work. We invite you to learn more about each of our four program areas– Original Caretakers, Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement, Sustainability and Global Affairs and Eco-Ministry—and to be in touch with us about the work you are doing in your community. Please also follow us on social media and feel free to come to the gatherings at Union. There’s so much going on already this Fall, and we’ve only just begun!
June 13, 2017|Mackenzie Beltz, Environmental Leadership Intern
It is not often that I see faith and environmental activism intersect, but last Tuesday, June 6th, 2017, I had the opportunity to attend a portion of The Center for Earth Ethics’ weekend-long conference, “Ministry in the Time of Climate Change”. Many of the conference-goers I spoke to, all of them faith leaders from a wide spectrum of faiths, admitted that while they were well-versed in religious texts and community engagement, they struggled to integrate climate awareness into their sermons, fearing backlash. Today, climate change is not purely accepted as fact, but is a political talking point (or not-talking point) that divides the country, and fear of deepening that division can lead to faith leaders’ reluctance to discuss it with their communities at all.
At the conference, speakers from many different religions and cultures shared ways to engage with their prospective congregations, groups, and tribes. During a panel entitled “Meeting Denial, Grief and Despair With Integrity, Grace and Hope,” Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Reviving Creation shared a thought that I found moving, “If we turn to God as an extrinsic source of hope, saying, ‘If climate change is real, God will surely do something about it,’ our hope is very vulnerable. Intrinsic hope is the hope we feel in those moments where we truly know who we are. Our purpose is to love.” Climate change can inspire fear and uncertainty for the future, but the moderator Andrew Schwartz and the panelists, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Lynne Iser, Barbara Rossing and Aliou Niang shared strategies to channel that fear into hope and inspiration for the future.
Later in the evening, I had the privilege of attending a community discussion moderated by Karenna Gore and Derrick Harkins and featuring Vice President Al Gore, Pat Williams, Azza Karam and Burt Visotzky. I was particularly interested in Ms. Williams’s insights on the legal and economic implications of environmental degradation and climate discourse. And of course, the “headliner” Al Gore was an incredible speaker who left everyone in the room aware of the imminent danger of climate change, while also convincing us that we could enact positive change to save our planet together.
It was humbling to see ministers, Native American chiefs, rabbis, priests and imams coming together to admit that for all their knowledge, there were things that they did not know. “I came here to learn,” shared one man during a small discussion group, “and to take this information back to my people.”
Linked below is a beautiful song performed by Bethany Yarrow and Rufus Cappadocia that was shared immediately after the “Denial, Grief and Despair” panel and gave me a strong feeling of healing and peace following such a difficult discussion.
Bethany and Rufus performing live