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?
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.
Each week, co-hosts Alison Leigh Lilly and Jeff Lilly invite you to join them as they explore the challenges of nature spirituality in the digital age through ecology, art, politics and interfaith conversation. Become part of a growing community of spiritual seekers and creative contemplatives finding guidance in the wellsprings of personal experience, soulful relationship and the dark green tones of earth-centered spiritual practice.