We look at the environmental challenges facing our churches, temples, sacred groves and other holy places today. What happens to the ecological balance of a sacred river when millions of people bathe, wash, and draw blessings from it? What about the sustainability of the materials to build a church, and the power to heat it, to cool it, and to travel to it? We also explore the irony of sacred animals who have come under threat by the very people they’ve inspired to reverence and worship. We spotlight ways people have sought to balance these conflicts, working with conservationist groups and taking personal responsibility for the effects of their worship on the landscape. Finally, we tackle the thorny question of green partnerships between government and religious organizations: is it always a good thing, or can it be misguided? What about the separation of church and state?
Hildegard sees a direct link between Divinity, nature, and sacrality. No impassable chasm between God and creation in this woman’s theology. And for this reason, I’ve been rather boldly predicting that Hildegard, as a newly minted Doctor of the Church, could eventually even supplant Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of the environment. Francis’s feast day is October 4 — just three days before Hildegard’s elevation to Doctor of the Church — so it seems to me that maybe this month is the time for a sanctity smackdown, as we consider just who deserves to be the first among patron saints of nature (yes, it’s okay for there to be more than one).
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.
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.
In Episode 101 – Inside/Out, we explore the liminal boundaries between individuals and communities, species and ecosystems, self and other. We take a look at the changing conversation about the role of native and invasive animal and plant species; we ask if nature poetry can help combat climate change; and we delve into two examples of the complex politics of national sovereignty in an age of both globalization and the Gaia hypothesis. In our extension for Pro Members, we take a look at love, life and death in mythology and explore how stories of freedom and responsibility challenge us to live more widely and wildly in the present moment.
Welcome to our last Sneak Peek Pro episode of the preseason here at Faith, Fern & Compass, where every day is Earth Day. In Episode 3 – Happy (Belated) Earth Day!, we celebrate the Earth as our mother and our home, taking a look back at the origins of the holiday and how it’s evolved over the past 42 years from a national teach-in to a global call to community action. We review DisneyNature’s recent documentary, Chimpanzee, and explore some of the ways that individual ecological awareness finds mutual support in community action and system change. In the Pro extension, we share a few of the ways that we celebrate Earth Day as a spiritual holiday of sacred connection with our beautiful, fragile planet.