We have the great pleasure of sharing with you a talk by Peter Illyn, “Goddess, Gearbox or Garden,” presented at the Wild Goose West festival earlier this year. Peter explores the “history of history” and the evolving use of stories and metaphors within Christianity to talk about humanity’s relationship with the natural world. What does it mean to be a “belly-button Christian” in a culture steeped in mechanistic and utilitarian metaphors for nature? How do we encourage others to nurture a sacred relationship with the earth? Peter explores all of these questions and more, sharing accounts of his own work as an environmental steward and activist. In our Pro Extension, we continue the conversation by exploring the history of Earth goddess worship throughout the world, and some of the environmental implications of nature worship today.
We explore the infinitely awe-inspiring natural world with a reading of Alison’s article, “The Seven Wonders of the Natural World in Your Own Backyard.” The New Seven Wonders of Nature were announced last year by the New7Wonders Foundation, honoring places such as Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and Table Mountain of South Africa, but you don’t have to travel around the world to experience the spiritually uplifting power of nature. Then Jeff sits down for a fascinating, wide-ranging interview with Brian McLaren, an influential pastor, speaker and author who understands nature’s spiritual dimension and its essential role in the future of Christianity, humanity, and the world. Finally, for our Pro extension, grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable, as we read Alison’s bedtime story about King Arthur’s search for the mightiest huntsman who ever lived — the Tale of Mabon.
What does “nature spirituality in the digital age” mean from a Christian contemplative perspective? I am writing here not because I have an answer to this question, but precisely because I don’t have much of an answer. The liturgy, theology, sacred stories, ritual practices, and ethical mandates of Christianity in so many ways seem foreign, perhaps even inimical, to the idea of “nature spirituality.” But voices in the tradition offer interesting insights. Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Merton, Francis of Assisi, the Irish and Welsh saints, Thomas Berry, Rosemary Radford Ruether: these are just a few of the voices, from the past as well as the present, that have dared to explore a Christian approach to nature spirituality. What a wonderful privilege it is to be alive today, when submerged voices from the past can join together with visionary voices from the present to articulate an authentic, holistic, dare I say green Christian theology of nature.
Melanie Griffin, a former National Director of the Sierra Club, joins Jeff Lilly in an exclusive interview to share some personal reflections on her experiences working in the environmental movement, exploring the ways that science, technology, the economy and social media has shaped the conversation about ecology and environmentalism over the past few decade, as well as what the future of environmentalism might hold as a new generation grows up with the global warming crisis.