Archive for the ‘climate change’ tag
by Rabbi Edward Bernstein
from Huffington Post
Having recently moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to South Florida, I am adjusting to a very different climate. The timing of my move was such that I missed experiencing the infamous “Heat Dome” that plagued a large swath of the country this summer. Ironically, while temperatures in Florida were seasonably muggy and hot — in the 90s — temperatures in the Upper Midwest and Northeast soured over 100 for days.
For years, we have heard about climate change occurring as a result of human-produced pollution. Many scientists and commentators have moved away from the term “global warming,” in favor of “climate change,” to account for all kinds of increasingly odd weather patterns throughout the year, such as flooding, tornadoes, blizzards. I happen to like Thomas L. Friedman’s term “Global Weirding.”
Nevertheless, the intense heat of this summer raised concern. Even in Florida, which has been spared (as of this writing) the extreme conditions from up north, things seem different. Long-time Florida residents tell me that it used to rain every afternoon at a predictable time. This summer, rain has not been as predictable. Rain can come at any time or not at all on a given day. Again, it’s weird.
by John Stanley and David Loy
from Huffington Post
“The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the Earth. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise — then we can build a noble environment. If our lives are not based on this truth, then we shall perish.” –Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
“The term ‘engaged Buddhism’ was created to restore the true meaning of Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism is simply Buddhism applied in our daily lives. If it’s not engaged, it can’t be called Buddhism. Buddhist practice takes place not only in monasteries, meditation halls and Buddhist institutes, but in whatever situation we find ourselves. Engaged Buddhism means the activities of daily life combined with the practice of mindfulness. –Thich Nhat Hanh
In one of Buddhism’s iconic images, Gautama Buddha sits in meditation with his left palm upright on his lap, while his right hand touches the earth. Demonic forces have tried to unseat him, because their king, Mara, claims that place under the bodhi tree. As they proclaim their leader’s powers, Mara demands that Gautama produce a witness to confirm his spiritual awakening. The Buddha simply touches the earth with his right hand, and the Earth itself immediately responds: “I am your witness.” Mara and his minions vanish. The morning star appears in the sky. This moment of supreme enlightenment is the central experience from which the whole of the Buddhist tradition unfolds.
The great 20th-century Vedantin, Ramana Maharshi said that the Earth is in a constant state of dhyana. The Buddha’s earth-witness mudra (hand position) is a beautiful example of “embodied cognition.” His posture and gesture embody unshakeable self-realization. He does not ask heavenly beings for assistance. Instead, without using any words, the Buddha calls on the Earth to bear witness.
The Earth has observed much more than the Buddha’s awakening. For the last 3 billion years the Earth has borne witness to the evolution of its innumerable life-forms, from unicellular creatures to the extraordinary diversity and complexity of plant and animal life that flourishes today. We not only observe this multiplicity, we are part of it — even as our species continues to damage it. Many biologists predict that half the Earth’s plant and animal species could disappear by the end of this century, on the current growth trajectories of human population, economy and pollution. This sobering fact reminds us that global warming is the primary, but not the only, extraordinary ecological crisis confronting us today.
Twenty-eight religious leaders will converge on Canberra on 2 June to pressure the federal government to act on climate change. Representatives from many different faiths, acting under the banner of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), will meet with Julia Gillard, Greg Hunt, Andrew Wilkie and around twenty other Members of Parliament.
Bishop George Browning, a member of the delegation, said the time to act is now. “Our generation has been given humanity’s last chance to avert a climate emergency. Our grandchildren will just have to bear with the results of what we decide to do now,” Bishop Browning said. Formerly the bishop of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop Browning, who is now the Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said that climate change skeptics were preventing Australia moving in the right direction. “The naysayers are holding Australia back from taking responsible action with their fear-mongering and misinformation. Not only can we act, we must act.”
For more on the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, please visit their website.
by Seth Wax
from State of Formation
Over the past week, the recovery and clean-up of the forest fire in the Carmel region of Northern Israel that charred acres, burned property, and killed 42 people has gotten underway. It’s been particularly interesting for me, having just visited Tel Aviv for the weekend, to witness the ways in which Israelis are organizing en masse to volunteer with helping out. In particular, I visited two synagogues, each of which talked about ways to support the Yemin Orde Youth Village, a center that’s home to more than 500 children, that suffered a loss of over 40% of their buildings during the fire.
Yet alongside the public response to rebuild the affected areas, there has also been a strong drive to find answers for the fire, and in particular, to understand who is responsible for allowing this tragedy to unfold in the way it did. While police believe they may have identified the person who started the fire, much of the vitriol is being leveled against the government, in particular the ministries of interior and finance, for underfunding and mismanaging the fire and rescue services and not equipping them with the supplies – like the tanker planes that governments across Europe and the US provided – that would have ended the forest fire before it became too big.
But while it may be appropriate to blame the government for negligence, I think that this narrow focus may be a bit short-sighted.
About a week ago, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, attributed the forest fire to Jews’ failure to observe Shabbat properly. While his remarks have an eerie resonance with what Rev. John Hagee said about New Orleans’ permissive attitude toward gay pride causing Hurricane Katrina, reading Rabbi Yosef’s comments got me thinking about what it means to cast a broad net of responsibility when government readiness cannot meet the scale of a natural disaster (even if I think his specific argument is insane). For Ovadia Yosef, the reason why the fire burned in the North was because of Jews’ failure to follow religious commandments, meaning (in the most charitable way I can see it), that the scope of responsibility for the loss of property and life does not lie with just the individuals who set the fire, the government, or the politicians. Many more people share responsibility for this.
Acclaimed cultural historian, cosmologist, Passionist priest, and Earth scholar, Thomas Berry, was among the first of our world’s religious leaders to suggest that the earth ecological crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis. Thomas Berry dedicated his life to The Great Work of our time which he described simply as “moving the human community from its present situation as a destructive presence on the planet to a benign or mutually enhancing presence.” Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker and Dr. John Grim, co-founders and co-directors of The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale and The Thomas Berry Foundation, join host Robin Bradley Hansel to share their stories and reflections on Thomas Berry’s life, his work, his writings, and his passionate dream for our Earth community.
World Religions Get Down to Earth
by Trebbe Johnson
“Sensually, it was a panoply of colorful raiment, ceremonies, liturgies, and languages from around the world. Spiritually, the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, held December 3-9 in Melbourne, Australia, had the feeling of a quest, or rather thousands of individual quests pursued by people who came together not just to espouse their own beliefs but to explore together how to solve some of the world’s most grievous problems. “Making a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth” was the theme of this gathering held in the soaring, light-filled Melbourne Convention Center on the bank of the Yarra River, int he ancestral homeland of the aboriginal Wurundjeri people. For a week, six thousand participants from eighty countries, representing religious and spiritual traditions old and new, shared one another’s worship services; attended 662 talks, panel discussions, and films; and exchanged ideas, prayers, and email addresses.
The first Parliament of World Religions took place in Chicago in 1893, the second not until one hundred years later, again in the Windy City. Cape Town, Barcelona, and now Melbourne have hosted subsequent gatherings. Since the beginning, the concept of what the parliament has to offer, and to whom, has changed radically.”
Trebbe Johnson is the founder and director of Radical Joy for Hard Times, a non-profit organization devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places. She writes frequently on the relationship of myth, nature, and spirit and is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover: Desire and the Quest for the Beloved. She lives in rural Pennsylvania.
Speaking at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Imam Afroz Ali presents an Islamic perspective on the issue of climate change and the (over)use of the world’s resources. He questions whether economic models based on growth can be consistent with sustainability and protection of the global environment. Imam Afroz Ali is the Founder and President of the Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development. Melbourne, December 2009.
This program from the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Melbourne is presented in its entirety by Slow TV.
Kusumita Pedersen discusses the impact of the 2009 Parliament in Interreligious Insight: a Journal of Dialogue and Engagement!. The article highlights issues of climage change, Indigenous peoples, women in Afghanistan, and the maturing of the interreligious movement.
Kusumita P. Pedersen is Professor of Religious Studies at St. Francis College in New York, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions and Co-Chair of the Interfaith Center of New York.
Mary Evelyn Tucker of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology was a prominent speaker at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia.
The link below includes a report from Tucker and John Grim, as well as links to video of presentations at the Parliament by Tucker: “Thomas Berry and the Great Work of Our Time” and “The Human Face of Climate Change.”
The Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh’s powerful and timely address to the parliament: A Collective Awakening for the Future of Our Planet. Click Here to watch the talk.
Following the presentation of the talk at the parliament, Brother Phap Kham presented a short video documenting recent events concerning the Bat Nha community in Vietnam. A link to that video can be found here.
Watch more videos on our video page.