April 2011

The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
5.4 (April 2011)

1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

2. Journey of the Universe Premieres and other Showings

3. Events

4. New Books

5. Call for Papers: Society for Ecofeminism, Environmental Justice, and Social Ecology
(October 24, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA, USA)

6. Call for Papers: “Doing Good, Doing Bad, Doing Nothing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Human Behavior” (June 18-25, 2011 in Chautauqua, NY, USA)

7. Call for Papers: “Religion, Nature and Art” (October 13-14, 2011 in Roma, Italy)

8. Call for Papers: “The Environmental Humanities: Cultural Perspectives on Nature and the Environment” (October 14-15, 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden)

9. Oil and Our Lifestyles: A Month of Action

10. “(Un)Sacred Pollution: Restoring the Jordan River to Its Glory,” by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME)

11. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology


1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally


Welcome to the April issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology. We have much to share with you this month with regards to developments in the field of Religion and Ecology, including film premieres, books, conferences, events, calls for papers, and more.

We are delighted to inform you that the World Premiere of the Journey of the Universe film at Yale University on March 25-26 was a huge success. There were 5 screenings with nearly 1000 people seeing the film in total. At the first showing, introduced by the Dean Peter Crane of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, there was a spontaneous standing ovation at the conclusion. The panel and discussion that followed was lively.

The premiere was surrounded by a two day conference at Yale with some 35 scientists and humanists focused on exploring the implications of Journey of the Universe for teaching, research, and creative outreach. The conference concluded with a celebratory dinner on Saturday evening in the Hall of the Dinosaurs in Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, where Paul Winter played his saxophone and the distinguished scientist, Tom Lovejoy, spoke.

The film was shown Sunday evening in DC at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capitol during which 150 films were shown. The Journey film concluded the festival with a packed audience of 400 people at the Carnegie Institution for Science and a line around the block of some 150 people unable to get in. Tom Lovejoy introduced the film by saying, “This is one of the most remarkable films I have ever seen.” The audience was captivated with the magnificent HD images and beautifully composed music.  An excellent discussion followed with the authors, Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker. The film will be shown again in DC on April 17th where the best films of the two week festival will be highlighted.

Other premieres of the film will be held in New York on April 21, in San Francisco April 30, in Chicago May 21, in Toronto June 14, at Genesis Farm August 20, and in Seattle September 30.

The Journey of the Universe project is a collaboration of Brian Thomas Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grim, and an extraordinary team of film makers and advisors.  It is directed and produced by Patsy Northcutt and David Kennard and co-produced by Catherine Butler. This project includes a film, a book, and an educational DVD series, all of which will be available in June 2011. Inspired by the “New Story” of Thomas Berry, the Journey of the Universe draws on the latest scientific knowledge to tell the story of cosmic and Earth evolution. It aims to inspire a new and closer relationship with Earth in a period of growing environmental and social crisis.

For more information about the project, the screenings, and pre-ordering the book and film, visit: http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org

We also wanted to let you know that an important book has just been published titled Ecological Awareness: Exploring Religion, Ethics and Aesthetics, edited by Sigurd Bergmann and Heather Eaton. Sigurd Bergmann is professor in the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and he’s the founder of the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment. Heather Eaton is professor of theology at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa and the founder of the Canadian Forum on Religion and Ecology. Seventeen authors from the fields of theology, religious studies, biology, sociology and philosophy explore how religious practitioners have become increasingly aware of ecological challenges.

We hope that this newsletter supports your own work and helps you further your own engagements with the field of Religion and Ecology.

Warm wishes,
Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally
California Institute of Integral Studies
Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale
Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors


2. Journey of the Universe Premieres and other Showings


Film Showing: New York University, NYC (April 21, 2011)


Kimmel Center
Room 914, Silver Board Room
New York University
60 Washington Square South
New York, New York 10012
Film: 5:30-6:30pm
Talk/Discussion: 6:30-7:30pm
This event is free and open to the public.
RSVP is required.




West Coast Premiere: San Francisco (April 30, 2011)


Victoria Theatre
2961 16th Street
San Francisco, CA
5pm - Film showing (sold out)
8:30pm - Film showing


For ticket information, visit:


Midwest Premiere: Chicago (May 21, 2011)


The Well
1515 W. Ogden
LaGrange Park, Il. 60526
Contact: Bridget Sperduto
email: bsperduto@csjoseph.org




For more events related to Journey of the Universe, visit: http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org/upcoming-events/



3. Events


Consecration of Srī Somesvara Temple”
North Carolina
May 12-16, 2011


The Srī Somesvara Temple will be consecrated in the mountains of North Carolina on May 12-16, 2011. Srī Somesvara Temple, built of ancient granite carved in India, will resonate with the deepest values of Nature feeding the very source of life itself. By addressing the most fundamental level of existence, Srī Somesvara Temple will help give rise to the consciousness needed to heal the world and environment. Sri Somesvara Temple will radiate the Divine Source of all life and existence. For more information, visit: http://www.srisomesvara.org/Events




New Directions in Environmental Law: A Climate of Possibility
Yale Law School”
One workshop may be of particular interest to the Forum community:
“Indigenous Peoples, International Human Rights, Law, and the Environment”
4:45-5:45 pm
April 2, 2011




Inward and Outward Nature: An Islamic Portrayal of the Spirituality-Environment Nexus”
The Tenth Annual Critical Islamic Reflections Conference
Yale University
New Haven, CT, USA
April 9, 2011




American Teilhard Association Annual Meeting
“Darwin, Teilhard, and the Drama of Life”
Speaker: John Haught
Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY, USA
May 14, 2011




Animals as Religious Subjects: A Transdisciplinary Conference”
Hosted by the European Forum for the Study of Religion and Environment
University of Chester, UK
May 21-24, 2011




Technology and Security”
17th International Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT)
University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
May 26-29, 2011




Sustaining Earth, Sustaining Soul”
With Jeffrey Kiehl, Ph.D., M.A., LPC, Jungian Analyst
Esalen Institute
Big Sur, CA
June 3-5, 2011





For more events, visit: http://fore.research.yale.edu/calendar/  



4. New Books


Ecological Awareness: Exploring Religion, Ethics and Aesthetics
Edited by Sigurd Bergmann and Heather Eaton
Studies in Religion and the Environment / Studien zur Religion und Umwelt, Bd. 3
LIT Verlag, 2011


The past years have seen an ecological development in religions that is staggering. These efforts are responses to difficult local and global ecological problems, with an increased awareness that religions need to be alert, engaged and active partners in the work for a sustainable future. Ecological Awareness – with 17 authors from theology, religious studies, biology, sociology and philosophy – explores how religious practitioners have become increasingly aware of ecological challenges. The book considers aspects of ecological awareness: personal, social, political, religious and ecological. It sheds new light on an essential function of belief systems, which function not only as cognitive and moral systems, but emerge from and affect our human body and its mode of perceiving our milieu and ourselves within it. The book contributes to an increasing awareness of our embeddedness in larger life processes, as well as the awareness of life as a gift.




Judgment Day: The Struggle for Life on Earth
By Paul Collins
UNSW Press, 2010 / Orbis Books, 2011
https://www.unswpress.com.au/isbn/9781742231563.htm   http://www.maryknollsocietymall.org/description.cfm?ISBN=978-1-57075-920-8


Judgment Day: The Struggle for Life on Earth is a powerful warning of the perils of global warming and a mobilization of the Christian conscience to change our thinking, our ways of acting, and so to save our planet.


The recent Gulf oil spill is just the latest depredation against the planet. From every direction come signs of global warming and other forms of ecological disaster that threaten the future of all living beings. In this sobering assessment of our condition, Paul Collins examines the nature of this crisis and how we got here including a review of the mental habits of thought, including religious worldviews, that have contributed to our dilemma and continue to inhibit effective action.


As Collins shows, if religious ideas have contributed to the problem, there are also powerful resources within the Christian tradition that can help us both in scripture, and in the work of prophetic geologians like Thomas Berry and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Drawing on these resources, Collins lays out the elements of a theology aimed at saving the earth and ourselves.




Perspectives on the Ideas of Gregory Bateson, Ecological Intelligence, and Educational Reforms
By Chet Bowers
Eco-Justice Press and Aurora Books, 2011


Chet Bowers’ new book, Perspectives on the Ideas of Gregory Bateson, Ecological Intelligence, and Educational Reforms, will be particularly important to religious groups concerned with promoting eco-justice thinking and social reforms, as it presents Bateson’s core ideas on the sources of double bind thinking that now dominates our thinking about educational reforms and social policy issues. Particularly important to understanding the cultural roots of the ecological crisis is Bateson’s explanation of how the deep cultural assumptions, which are derived from earlier eras when there was no awareness of environmental limits, continue to be promoted in publics schools and universities. He also provides an understanding of how the metaphorical nature of language carries forward the misconceptions and silences of earlier eras. Bowers builds upon Bateson’s ideas in explaining the issues that now have to be reconceptualized in the areas of social justice, understanding the metaphorical roots of our moral values, and the nature of educational reforms that will foster the transition to exercising ecological intelligence and to revitalizing the local cultural commons that have a smaller ecological footprint. In effect, the book is a primer for people working to achieve eco-justice in their local communities and globally, as it brings into focus the language/culture/consciousness connections that are so critical to avoiding Albert Einstein’s warning about relying upon the same mind-set that created the problems to correct them.




The Eleventh Commandment: Caring for Creation - Words of Wisdom from the World’s Great Faith Traditions
By Christine Williams
CreateSpace, 2011


For all people, and particularly for people of faith, the time is NOW to speak out for the preservation of this beautiful and fragile planet. People of all faith traditions are beginning to hear the call to take better care of the earth, and we must begin to answer with our actions as well as our prayers. This book contains masterful sermons and essays from nationally known and highly respected religious leaders, writers, and scholars. These writings will challenge our denial, complacency, and outright hopelessness (to borrow a theme from Chapter One by Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr.), and ignite the transformational fire within, moving us closer to living in accordance with the values of our professed faith. The reader will make the discovery that the major world religions share common ground in the mandate of our respective scriptures to be faithful stewards of the earth. “The Eleventh Commandment” contains the promise of a new beginning for people of all faith traditions to become a part of the global movement that integrates faith with environmental stewardship.


5. Call for Papers: Society for Ecofeminism, Environmental Justice, and Social Ecology (October 24, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA, USA)


In conjunction with the International Association for Environmental Philosophy (IAEP), the Society for Ecofeminism, Environmental Justice, and Social Ecology (SEEJSE) invites paper proposals for its seventh annual meeting, to be held in Philadelphia, PA, October 24, 2011, immediately after the main IAEP program. (IAEP website: www.environmentalphilosophy.org)


Please send 1-2 page (single-spaced) proposals in Word format to SEEJSE co-Chair, Keith Peterson, keith.peterson@colby.edu. Proposals should also indicate any special audio-visual or equipment needs.


The deadline for receipt of proposals is April 15, 2011.


The meeting provides a forum for writers in the transdisciplinary domains of Ecofeminism, Environmental Justice, and Social or Political Ecology to connect issues traditionally treated in environmental philosophy, such as human relations with non-human others, wilderness, and the value of nature, to issues of social justice. These discourses emphasize that environmental problems resulting from human-nature relations are closely interconnected with problems in human-to-human relations. SEEJSE seeks to encourage the connection of abstract philosophical analysis with empirical data on human lived experience. It aims proactively to expand the perspectives and concerns of environmental philosophers to be inclusive of perspectives traditionally marginalized in philosophy in general and environmental philosophy in particular, especially issues of concern to women, people of color, indigenous peoples, and people living in developing nations. Paper proposals on any of these topics are welcome.


Trish Glazebrook, University of North Texas, SEEJSE Co-chair
Keith Peterson, Colby College, SEEJSE Co-chair


6. Call for Papers: “Doing Good, Doing Bad, Doing Nothing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Human Behavior” (June 18-25, 2011 in Chautauqua, NY, USA)


The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) will present its 57th annual conference, “Doing Good, Doing Bad, Doing Nothing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Human Behavior.” It will be held at Chautauqua, New York, June 18 - 25, 2011.


Open to the general public as well as professionals, topics will include questions such as: What causes people to behave in ways that harm others? Benefit others? Why do some stand by and watch while others are hurt? And why do some step in to help, even at risk to themselves? In response to these questions, the conference will seek to integrate recent understandings of behavior from the evolutionary, genetic, developmental, neural, and psychological sciences with teachings of the world’s philosophies and religions, in order to better understand how we can become more “humane” humans.


Proposals are being sought for workshops and poster sessions, especially from students and younger scholars. Information is on the website under “Conference” and “Poster Sessions.”


The deadline for applications is April 18, 2011.


For more information please visit the IRAS website: www.iras.org.  

Karl Peters,kpeters396@cox.net  
Barbara Whittaker-Johns, revdrbwj@comcast.net



7. Call for Papers: “Religion, Nature and Art” (October 13-14, 2011 in Roma, Italy)


This joint conference, sponsored by the Ethnological Museum of the Vatican Museums, headed by prof. Nicola Mapelli, and the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, seeks to examine the complex intersections of religion, nature and art. Sessions will focus on broad cultural and geographic areas: “Asian Religions, Nature and Art,” “Renaissance Art, Religion and Nature,” “Indigenous Religions, Nature and Art,” “Spirituality-based Environmental Activism, Nature and Art”. Some general areas of presentation could include: art symbolizing religious aspects of nature, nature itself as religious art, nature-themed religious art, art that expresses religious-based resistance to environmental destruction.


The conference will also include two unique opportunities to view art in the Vatican Museums. We will visit the exhibit “Rituals of Life: the culture and spirituality of aboriginal Australians” with the curator, prof. Nicola Mapelli (conference co-director), and co-curator, Katherine Aigner, and on the concluding night we will tour the Vatican Museums (one family member is invited to this tour as well). The two-day conference offers the opportunity, either preceding or following the conference, to collaborate with other scholars in this area or to engage in research (pre-arranged individually) at the Vatican. In addition each conference registrant will receive a copy of Katherine Aigner’s acclaimed documentary “Australian Atomic Confessions.”


Proposals should be submitted to fr. Nicola Mapelli, diretn.musei@scv.va for review, and cc to Katherine Aigner, katherine.aigner@anu.edu.au. Proposals should be no more than 250 words in length and should indicate directly how they relate to the theme.


Proposals are due by June 1, 2011.


Anticipated registration fee is 100 euro, 50 euro for students and others demonstrating financial need. For more information contact fr. Mapelli or conference co-coordinator Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster, hoboster@southwestern.edu.


For regular updates regarding the preparation of the conference, please see the website of the ISSRNC at www.religionandnature.com/society.

8. Call for Papers: “The Environmental Humanities: Cultural Perspectives on Nature and the Environment” (October 14-15, 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden)


Environmental studies have traditionally been considered the province of the natural sciences, in the first place, and perhaps of the social sciences in the second place. What perspectives can literary scholars, historians, religious studies researchers, ethicists, human/cultural geographers, architects, cultural studies theorists and art historians bring to the fore that may help to shed new light on the environmental turn in contemporary human consciousness?


To address this issue, “The Environmental Humanities: Cultural Perspectives on Nature and the Environment” will be held in Stockholm, Sweden on October 14-15, 2011. The symposium is being organized by the Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (NIES) in cooperation with the Division for the History of Science and Technology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and both CEMUS and the Department of English at Uppsala University.


The papers we seek above all are empirically based contributions from the current field of environmentally oriented research that are capable of showcasing some of the theoretical and methodological advantages of a humanistically framed approach to the study of nature, culture and environment.


A selection of papers from the symposium will appear in an anthology edited by Steven Hartman, Anna Storm and Sverker Sörlin, to be published by a leading Swedish publisher.


You are invited to submit your abstract (no more than 250 words) and a short CV to Susanna Lidström, suslid@kth.se, no later than May 2, 2011. If you have any questions, please contact Steven Hartman, hartman@kth.se.


For the full Call for Papers, visit:


9. “(Un)Sacred Pollution: Restoring the Jordan River to Its Glory,” by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME)


The Jordan River is a historical, cultural, and religious site with great significance for the four regions that share its banks and tributaries. Revered in the holy books of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Jordan River has been a sacred place for the world’s major religions. References are made associating the river to the prophets Moses and Elijah, and four of the companions to the prophet Mohammed are buried on the eastern banks of the river. For Christians, the Jordan River is one of the religion’s most venerated holy sites, following the baptism of Jesus in the area of Qasr el Yehud.


The river is also ecologically significant with a historic flow of 1.3 billion cubic meters (bcm), and notably high biodiversity, from lush wetlands to diverse flora and fauna. Sadly, today the Lower Jordan River has been greatly altered with approximately 98% of the natural flow removed resulting in a loss of over 50% of the River’s biodiversity. Furthermore, residents and visitors alike are unaware that the Jordan is drying up due to the fact that most of the river is a closed military zone and off limits to the public.


EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is an environmental peacemaking organization that promotes transboundary collaboration among Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli environmentalists. A unique organization, FoEME tackles common ecological issues by creating a space for dialogue and action for communities in all three regions vis-à-vis cooperative efforts. One such program dedicated to protecting the region’s shared environmental heritage is the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, which focuses on bringing back the Lower Jordan River (from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea) to that of a healthy ecosystem. For more info, visit: http://foeme.org/www/?module=projects&record_id=153


Overdevelopment and intensive agriculture led to divergence of over 98% of the water to the surrounding regions. Additionally, rampant pollution and sewage dumping led to dramatic reductions in biodiversity. The high levels of pollution in the river have dire consequences for the many cultural and natural heritage sites located along the river’s banks including the historical baptism site of Qasr el Yehud where high levels of pollution endanger the health of visiting pilgrims who wish to be baptized in the river’s waters.


FoEME’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project recently published an extensive environmental flows report in 2010 in which experts from Jordan, Palestine and Israel identified the conditions necessary to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River (LJR). A complementary economic study was published which analyzed a range of policy opportunities that would enable the river’s rehabilitation.


Some of FoEME’s recommendations include the development of a master plan for the LJR from the Jordanian and Palestinian government authorities, fairer allocation of the river’s water resources to Palestinians, regular testing of the river – particularly at sites of visitation such as the baptism site, and an experimental flood to flush the pollutants from the river. The return of a healthy ecosystem would benefit nature and society alike. Cooperation among Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis shows the shared significance of this water source, and how joint efforts toward water management can lead to monumental transformation. More than just a river, the Jordan continues to be a site of great religious, historical, and cultural importance. The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project demonstrates how shared efforts toward ecological rehabilitation can lead to peaceful interaction by working to resto re the Jordan to its former glory.


For more information about FoEME please visit our website at www.foeme.org. For recent highlights of our activities, sign up for our monthly environmental peacemaking newsletter (available at http://www.foeme.org/peace.php) or follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and blog (http://foeme.wordpress.com/).


10. Oil and Our Lifestyles: A Month of Action


April 20th marks the one-year anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill, with Earth Day following two days later. In honor, the Northwest Earth Institute invites you and your network to participate in Oil and Our Lifestyles: A Month of Action. http://nwei.org/oil-and-our-lifestyles-a-month-of-action


As part of this month-long commitment to dialogue and action, we are excited to offer our newest one-session discussion guide, Just Below the Surface: Perspectives on the Gulf Coast Oil Spill.


Join with others to identify steps each of us can take to reduce fossil fuel use and to move from reaction to thoughtful and constructive action.


Yes, the spill is over, but the implications of the spill have not ended. As you may recall, the 1969 oil spill off the coast of California resulted in the first Earth Day. One year after the Deepwater Horizon spill, some guiding questions for us to consider are: How have we changed or failed to change? How are we shifting our own lifestyles and perspectives? And, how should we as citizens of Earth respond to the challenges of oil dependence?


If you’re interested in participating in Just Below the Surface as part of Oil and Our Lifestyles: A Month of Action, please contact NWEI at (503) 227-2807 to order the guide ($5) or to find out more. You can also order online using our online order form at http://nwei.org/order-form.


11. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology


Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology has as its focus the relationships between religion, culture and ecology world-wide. Articles discuss major world religious traditions, such as Islam, Buddhism or Christianity; the traditions of indigenous peoples; new religious movements; and philosophical belief systems, such as pantheism, nature spiritualities, and other religious and cultural worldviews in relation to the cultural and ecological systems. Focusing on a range of disciplinary areas including Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology and Theology, the journal also presents special issues that center around one theme. For more information, visit: http://www.brill.nl/wo


For more information on other journals related to religion and ecology and to environmental ethics/philosophy, visit: http://fore.research.yale.edu/publications/journals/index.html. If you know of a publication that needs to be added to this list, email news@religionandecology.org.



For the archive of previous Forum newsletters, visit: