On the first Sunday in October, the Pope will declare Hildegard of Bingen a “Doctor of the Church” — a fancy title meaning, basically, that her writings are considered exemplary sources of Catholic theology and doctrine. Hildegard and an obscure Spanish mystic will get this honor this fall, and will be only the 34th and 35th persons to be so named in all of Catholicism. Most of the Doctors of the Church are obscure theologians, folks like Gregory Nazianzus or Peter Damian or Lawrence of Brindisi. Others are more recognizable: Thomas Aquinas, the Venerable Bede, and Augustine of Hippo are all members of this rather exclusive club. Before 1970, no woman had ever been declared a Doctor of the Church; Hildegard will be the fourth to receive the title, after Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Thérèse of Lisieux — all mystics, which is not surprising since throughout most of church history women rarely were recognized as theologians unless they were seen as mystics, that is to say, as visionaries who insisted that their authority as theologians and spiritual teachers came directly from God.
This week we look at our most intimate and daily relationship with nature: the plants and animals we eat. We look at how incorporating native and invasive species into our diets can impact our health and our planet, we share some ways that art and technology challenge us to think about our food in new ways, we delve into greenwashing and how to spot it, and ask the tough question: does eating organic help the planet but hinder our sympathy for our fellow humans? In our Pro extension, we explore the relationship between diet and religious belief, and talk about the ways the Slow Food Movement can enlighten us about the interconnection between food, self and community.
Happy World Environment Day! Tonight, we explore this year’s WED theme, Green Economy: Does It Include You? What does a “green economy” look like? Our relationship with the natural world reflects our understanding of the value of material existence and the symbols we use to express that value, from money, to jobs, to social justice. We examine the different ways that communities all over the world envision sustainable economic systems, and the tension that arises between valuing the natural world and putting a price tag on it. In our Pro extension, we look at how transitioning to a greener economy not only benefits the planet, but can also lead to happier, healthier human beings and more fulfilling, creative work for everyone.