Author Archives: csegall

Until next year…

global-warming-prayer-chicago.gifglobal-warming-prayer-chicago.gifAnd so the first National Day of Prayer and Reflection on Global Warming has come to a close.  We haven’t heard from every participating school, but those we have heard from suggest that the campus community of conscience is, more and more, grappling with the challenge before us.  At the University of Chicago, they met with dance and drumming and meditation (and made it into the paper–see the story below!).  At Stanford, students, community members, and clergy gathered outdoors in a redwood grove on a day of sun and clouds to contemplate what is being lost and how much we can still save.  And at Eckerd–well, let’s let them tell it, in the email from the wonderful Patrick Schwing, posted below.  To our knowledge, they are the first school to combine prayer with mud wrestling.

There is so much more to do.  We have ten years, at the most, to begin to reverse our carbon trajectory.  Instead, despite the change in the conversation, our emissions continue to increase.  We have not yet, as a society, taken up the burden before us.  We have not yet choosen to save ourselves and our children.  But we can.  Global warming is a terrible threat, but it is also a door for us to pass through, together.  The way is still open.  We have been thrilled by the dedication of the clergy, the passion that students are devoting to the world that we can build, and the possibilities before us.  This day has been a window into a better path; we hope that future days of prayer continue to drive us all to pray with our feet, moving forward into a better future and actively calling for change.

And now, the news:

Down here at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida Campus
ministries and the Center for Spiritual Life were a huge presence at
two events this Earth Day week.  We promoted the Global Warming Prayer
first at our annual on-campus EARTHFEST, which we sponsored a place
for prayer all day long.  We had anywhere from 50-100 participants
just for the prayer space.  We also had many more participate in our
mudwrestling event and take information on The Young Adult Ecumenical
Forum on Environmental Justice in Boston in July, and Sowing Seeds in
Washington, D.C. in June.

   We were also a presence at Speak St. Pete, Earth Day Celebration
at the Mahaffey Theater (Progress Energy Center).  This evenbt is
sponsored by the U.N. Environmental Programme and had 1400
participants from 75 countries registered for online participation on
top of those at the theater.  Global Warming Prayer materials were
made available to all of those that attended along with Earth Flags,
organic cotton T-shirts and a chance to see Lori Michaels and Stephen
Longfellow-Fiske perform.  The highlight of the night was the proposal
from Sam Keen (
www.samkeen.com) to create a GLOBAL JUSTICE INDEX.
Eckerd College has accepted this challenge and plans to implement the
index as soon as possible.  You will be hearing more about this in the
near future.  We look forward to next year!

 And here’s coverage of the Chicago event from the Medill Reports…

Faithful bring moral perspective to global warming

by Celeste Kennel-Shank
Apr 19, 2007

 

Environmentalists aren’t just eating organics and hugging trees during Earth Day weekend — some also believe in the power of prayer.

Two Chicago organizations are among the main sponsors of the National Campus Day of Prayer and Reflection on Global Warming with dozens of events being held Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

People of faith have key perspectives in stopping global warming, and are often more environmentally friendly than secular activists realize, said David Aftandilian of the University of Chicago Religion and Environment Initiative, one of the event’s organizers.

“There has been a lot said about climate change on the science and policy fronts,” he said. “But global warming is not often enough talked about as an ethical and personal issue of responsibility for all of us.”
The Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Hyde Park is also one of the national sponsors.

The poor suffer first.

The deep injustice of global warming grows clearer every day.  Today, the New York Times reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will next Friday confirm what many of us have long suspected: the poor and the voiceless will suffer first, most, and longest from global warming.  In “Poor Nations to Bear the Brunt of Global Warming”, Andrew Revkin reports that while the “[t]he world’s richest countries, which have contributed by far the most” to global warming, and are spending billions to adapt to its threats, they are spending “just tens of millions” to help the developing world adapt.  Of course, it is the poor nations of the tropics that will also suffer most: it is the equatorial regions that will lose so much of their water and are most greatly threatened by drought.  The report highlights a grim truth: the SUV-driving, power-consuming citizens of the north will visit the bulk of the harm they have caused upon the south–and have not yet even bothered to begin to help their fellow citizens of the world adapt to the harm that they have caused. 

Why a day of prayer and reflection?

Some time ago, I was asked to contribute some thoughts on how the Day of Prayer and Reflection began.  Here are some reflections:

How do we measure loss and our responsibility for loss?  How, when what is being lost is the world we grew up in, and the world every generation of humans has known, do we begin to account for the depth of our loss?  And how, when so much of our daily lives drives further losses—when every flick of a light switch brings on more destruction—do we begin to live righteously?

 

The climate collapse—global warming—the climate crisis—the meltdown: the time we live in, made by us and inherited by generations of our children, is shot through with losses.  There are the obvious vanishings: the thousands of species (estimated, not long ago, at as many as half of those living) that are at risk, the glaciers gone, the rivers now drying, the forests (including, perhaps, the Amazon) going brown and dead.  There are the small diminishings: the end of maple syrup in Vermont, the way summer in the deep south grows ever more unbearable, the whisper of rising waves eating away the beaches of
California.  And there are the avulsive losses, the ones that leave us hollow: the drowning of New Orleans, the smashing waves that splintered the Gulf Coast, the lid of hot air that killed tens of thousands in Europe.

 

These are small reflections of the losses to come.  We think of the tens of millions of refugees from the new storms and the rising waters, the spreading deserts, the shifting seasons, the ever-growing burden on the poorest people in the world.  Not for ten years, or even a century of disruption, but for thousands of years: the signature of these decades of gross overconsumption will be written across the lives of our children and their children’s children.  Their inheritance is loss.

 

We have, so far, proven able to only haltingly see this.  With oil company dollars pouring into the government and onto the airwaves, Americans, in particular, have been misled, deceived into not seeing even the scientific grounding of this present crisis until a great deal of damage had already been done.  But the problem is not just one of scientific vision: it is one of moral vision.  We have lacked the moral vision to see our responsibility for what we have done and the need to change our lives.

 

Social change does not begin with policy solutions and white papers.  It begins and is driven by a recognition of the demands of justice and of conscience.  For us to address global warming, we must first understand our place in the destruction and disruption of the creation and of the billions of human lives that depend upon the order of things.  That moment of moral vision is what allows us to go on, oblivious to the suffering we cause.

 

We find our epiphanies where we look for them.  The Day of Prayer and Reflection is an effort to create the space needed for vision.  The generation now on college campuses is the first that will become adults in the world we are making.  The Day offers them a chance to begin or continue the long conversation of conscience that we must have about this world and how we can still create something better, as stewards and as people of conscience.  It adds another voice of witness to the growing chorus for change and, we hope, will be the impetus for ongoing efforts among the campus clergy to address this deeply important issue for the communities they serve. It also, perhaps, can offer us some solace in the face of unbearable loss.

Young Adult Ecumenical Forum on Environmental Justice

Our friends at Eckerd have passed along word of the 2007 Young Adult Ecumenical Forum, to be held in Boston, July 26-29.  Here’s the conference description:

 ” The purpose of the 2007 Young Adult Ecumenical Forum (YAEF) is to respond faithfully to God’s call as announced in the book of the Hebrew Prophet Micah. Through education, reflection, dialogue and community action, we hope to create a movement through which young adults can grow as an ecumenical community, participate in spiritual formation, forge a safe space for dialogue on contentious issues, and work for justice in their communities.

* * *

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.
— Psalm 65:9

As people of faith, we are deeply concerned about justice and the integrity of all creation. Issues of poverty, violence, hunger, and access to resources are contingent upon environmental sustainability and ecological care. Therefore, the mission of the 2007 Young Adult Ecumenical forum is to raise questions about environmental justice and propose means of announcing good news for all of our ecosystem.

This year’s upcoming Young Adult Ecumenical Forum will be held in Boston, Massachusetts from July 26 – 29. The topic is Environmental Justice.”

 It’s good to see religious communities coming together to recognize the links between caring for the world and caring for the people in it.  You can find more information, and register for the conference at www.yaef.net.
 

Welcome to St. Lawrence and SUNY Canton!

We’re pleased to announce today that the Newman Center serving St. Lawrence and SUNY Canton in Canton, NY, will be leading day of prayer events there.  Thanks to Sr. Bethany for her committment!

 In other goods, Earth Day Network and Crossleft have both decided to work with us to reach more campuses.  We’re growing day by day.

Welcome to Eckerd!

Florida’s at particular risk from flooding, storms, and salt water contamination of its fresh water aquifers due to global warming.  That’s why we’re so pleased that the 1750 students of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, will be joining the Day of Prayer.  Patrick Schwing, campus ministries intern there, writes to tell us that

 “Eckerd College is co-sponsoring an Earth Day event with the
Mahaffey Theater (St. Petersburg), Global Healing, and Friends of the
U.N., which is part of a series of celebrations for international
days.  Earth Day will feature Sam Keen, Bruce Cockburn, and Lori
Michaels. ”

The day of prayer will be incorporated into their Earth Day event, focusing participants on the spiritual obligations imposed upon all of us by climate change.  Thanks to Eckerd for leading the way in the south!

George Mason Signs up–and the Sierra Club signs on!

Lots of good news this week! 

The Reverend Denise Giacomozzi May writes to let us know what’s planned for George Mason:

“United College Ministries in Northern Virginia will be co-sponsoring two showings of “An Inconvenient Truth” Monday April 16 at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA in conjunction with Earth Week activities there.  Prof. Susan Crate, GMU Human Ecology, will lead discussions about solutions after the film.”

 Word is getting out–and it’s about to get out a lot faster.  We were thrilled this week when we were contacted by the Sierra Club’s coordinator of faith partnerships.  We’ll be working together to help reach communities and campuses across the country to help unite people of conscience in the effort against global warming.