15th Anniversary of Creation Corner column
This marks the 15th year anniversary of this “Creation Corner” column in the print and on-line newsletter of the 65-year-old ecumenical organization, United Churches of Lycoming County, based in Williamsport PA (www.uclc.org). Material compiled by Lutheran layman Michael Ochs is provided with an educational hope that people of faith will be motivated to take action on behalf of the integrity of God’s creation, in their lifestyles, churches, communities and advocacy.
“The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps. 24:1); our vocation is to “tend and keep it” (Gen 2:15); to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8) inasmuch as “the whole earth has been groaning in travail, waiting to be set free from its bondage” (Romans 8:19-23).
Spiritual Ecology, by Leslie E. Sponsel is a 2012 book that brings to light some history of what many understand as the connection of religion and nature by examining the lives of selected people(s), from animists and indigenous people to the Buddha and St. Francis of Assisi, to, more recently, the likes of Thoreau, Muir, Steiner and Buber, and into the 21st century, with profiles of the Dali Lama, Wangari Matthai (1940-2011, Kenyan Green Belt and Green Party leader, Nobel Peace Prize awardee in 2004), and the Ecumenical/Green Patriarch Bartholomew’s leadership within the 250 worldwide million members of the Orthodox Church in promoting environmentalism as a sacred duty.
Because, to paraphrase what the late Rudolf Bahro has said, there is no crisis in the environment, but rather, it is within ourselves, each of our souls, our spirit, the need to change our relationship to the earth is primary. We must have “an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections and convictions” (Aldo Leopold).
Our priorities can change as we are transformed by our spiritual or religious traditions that uphold creation’s integrity, or redeem it when it is broken. As a Lutheran hymnal offertory prayer says, “…we dedicate our lives to the care and redemption of all that you have made.” Thus: creation care’s spiritual basis.
Sponsel’s book, the http://www.spiritualecology.info web site, and his course on the subject at the University of Hawai’i , bring together in a comprehensive way the foundation for understanding how an evolving spirituality can inform our experiences in nature and our ecological values, our attitudes and behavior, morals and ethics, what we revere and hold in awe, inspiring our active energy and achievements.
Clearly, the secular approaches to a sustainable future, the science and technology, the politics, the regulations (or lack of same), etc., have proven to be inadequate; indeed, the dysfunctional or blow-back consequences are real and devastating (war’s effect on earth, fossil fuel dependence, increasing CO2 and global warming, conflict over natural resources, etc.).
So, informed by Spiritual Ecology, “Do no harm” could become our credo, for “the whole earth is filled with God’s glory” (Is. 6:3).
PA Interfaith Power and Light Conference
The annual PA Interfaith Power and Light conference will be in Harrisburg October 14. The theme is “Power for PA: Climate Change and Faith-Based Action” (www.paipl.org) .
PA-IPL is one of 39 state affiliates nationwide as a religious response to global warming (http://interfaithpowerandlight.org) . IPL’s intent is to protect earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all. The means to do this is by being faithful stewards of creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Speakers include PSU’s Dr. Richard Alley, host of the PBS series “Earth: An Operator’s Manual,” and Rev. Fletcher Harper of www.greenfaith.org , speaking on “Greening Our Faiths: Educating and Mobilizing our Communities to Protect the Earth.”
Green Faith’s next conference is Oct. 21-22 in Milwaukee WI, “Ground for Hope: Mobilizing Interfaith Partners in Action for the Earth.” Speakers include Lutheran eco-theologian Peter Bakken of the Wisconsin IPL, and Native American leader Winona LaDuke, whose Honor the Earth organization has received many awards. She was the Green Party vice-president candidate in 1996 and 2000.