“The Pope again mentioned a comment he heard many years ago from an elderly peasant: “God always forgives; men forgive at times; but the Earth never forgives. We must care for our sister the Earth, our Mother Earth, so that she does not respond with destruction”. “Faced with the goods of the Earth, we are required ‘not to lose sight of the origin or purpose of these goods, so as to bring about a world of fairness and solidarity’, says the social doctrine of the Church. The Earth has been entrusted to us in order to be a Mother to us, able to give what is necessary for each person to live. … The Earth is not an inheritance we have received from our parents, but rather a loan from our offspring to us, so that we may take care of it, enable it to continue and restore it to them”.
“The stewardship of the Earth is not a task exclusive to Christians, but instead applies to all”, he continued. “I entrust to you what I said during the Mass of the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome: ‘I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! … We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness’. Care for the Earth not only with goodness, but also with tenderness”.–Pope Francis to business leaders focused on “Feeding Our Planet – Energy for Life” on Feb. 7, 2015
by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
From the evening of Tuesday, June 3, through the evening of June 5, Jews will be celebrating the festival of Shavuot, which in most of Jewish life today is focused on the revelation and acceptance of Torah at Mount Sinai.
And since Shavuot became transcribed in Christian tradition into Pentecost, perhaps Christians as well as Jews might learn from reexamining this holy day.
The Hebrew word “Shavuot” means “Weeks.” Its name comes from the festival’s timing in regard to Passover: It comes after a “week of weeks,” seven weeks and one day, beginning on the second night of Passover.
In Biblical Israel, Shavuot was the celebration of a successful spring wheat harvest. For seven weeks, the community anxiously counted its way into the precarious abundance of harvest. The counting began on Passover as each household brought a sheaf of barley to the Temple, for the barley crop ripened before wheat.
On the 50th day, there was a unique offering at the Temple—two loaves of wheat bread—regular leavened bread, not unleavened matzah, on the only occasion all year when leavened bread was offered.
This agricultural celebration of Shavuot fit into the broad pattern of Biblical Judaism. During the Biblical era, spiritual leadership of the People was held by a hereditary priesthood defined by the body from birth and skilled in the body-rituals of bringing various foods (beef, mutton, matzah, grain, pancakes, fruit) as offerings to a physical place.
On October 24 people around the world will be observing the First International Day of Climate Action, hosted by Bill McKibben’s 350.org.
Right now, as the world prepares for the international climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December, the world lacks one thing to save itself: political will. We have the technology to make appropriate changes. But political will is forged through moral vision and religious persuasion brought to bear by a diverse set of grassroots actions. And grassroot action requires you.
For Christians, part of our mission in the world is to bring religious imagination to bear on the crises of our day. Climate change is one of the most critical crises of our day.
Thanks to Tim Kumfer over at Always New Depths for posting his short essay written for his Ecofeminist Theology and Philosophy class at Duke responding to this question: What resources exist in your religious and/or spiritual tradition for thinking about ecological crises like climate change, pollution, scarce resources like water and food, and species loss?
Here’s part of Tim’s response, but I encourage you to read the whole thing and consider what resources you draw on for shaping religious vision. Also, what fun and effective thing can you do for International Day of Climate Action on Oct. 24. Tim writes:
These themes of resistance to dominant ecological and economic practices within the Bible must be brought into the mix as Christians begin to reflect on our contemporary many-headed ecological crisis. Listening deeply to these stories and paying attention to the dynamics in which they were formed I think we will find more radical conversation partners than we might have first imagined. Our present lives in the first world are supported by structures of empire similar to those which our foremothers and fathers in the faith strove to leave or subvert from within. The rapacious practices of consumer capitalism need to be stopped; Sabbath can point towards alternatives which honor the earth and workers through the recognition of natural limits. A whole-earth Jubilee is necessary now more than ever, one which not only brings greater equality between humans but recognizes the inherent worth, beauty, and necessity of non-human species and the ecosystem. This is perhaps the most important thing which the Christian (and Jewish) tradition at its best can bring to the table: an uncompromising moral vision which can go beneath green washing and eco-capitalist hype to re-present to us the truth which we already know: our lives in the first world need to change drastically for life on this planet to be sustained.
Read Tim’s full post here.