December 2009


The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
3.12 (December 2009)


1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

2. Message from Members of the Religions of the World Gathered at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

3. Pope’s World Day of Peace Message on Climate Change

4. Theological Responses to Climate Change: Resources by the Lutheran World Federation

5. First Study Abroad Program on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

6. Workshop: “Religion in Global Environmental and Climate Change: Sufferings, Values, Lifestyles”

7. Winter Solstice Celebration with the Paul Winter Consort

8.Bring Back the Sun: A Solstice Celebration & Memorial of the Life of Thomas Berry

9. Holiday Discount Gift Order from Producers of RENEWAL

10. The Spirit of Sustainability

11. New Books   

12. Free Religious Study Guides and DVD of National Parks Film Clips

13. PelicanWeb’s Journal of Sustainable Development

14. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology 



1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally


Season’s Greetings!

Welcome to the December issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology. We have much to share with you this month. The United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Copenhagen December on 7-18, is one of the most important meetings to take place to negotiate both mitigation and adaptation to climate change as a global community. Although the actions and policies that will result from this conference remain uncertain, this conference is opening up exciting opportunities for religious communities to develop their responses to the challenges of climate change. 


Due to the importance of the UN Climate Conference, the Forum’s newly-designed homepage has added specific links to climate change developments. Three new sections are now included on the Forum website: 1) Statements from World Religions on Climate Change, 2) Climate Change Science, and 3) Climate Change Ethics. The site’s new additions underscore the urgency of the climate change crisis and the crucial roles that religions must play in constructing ethical worldviews for interacting with other people, species, and the environment in order to serve as a moral force for environmental action. We encourage you to send us news regarding religion and climate change (both statements and actions).


We are happy to bring you information about religious responses to climate change as they continue to unfold. We would like to direct your attention to the UN Climate Conference message drafted by Bishop Geoff Davies of Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institution and endorsed by many participants at the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Melbourne, Australia on December 3–9. It is also exciting to note that the recent World Day of Peace Message by Pope Benedict XVI pertains to climate change and environmental justice. In addition, we want to let you know about theological responses to climate change in the Lutheran World Federation, a study abroad program on climate change, and a workshop that addresses religious responses to climate change.


Along with these resources on climate change, we have a lot of information to share with you about books, journals, websites, and videos that touch on a variety of themes related to religion and ecology, including resources on religious environmentalism, sustainability, yoga, environmental literary criticism, and the history of national parks.


It is our pleasure to inform you about two upcoming winter solstice celebrations. The Paul Winter Consort will be presenting a musical solstice celebration at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and a Winter Solstice Celebration and Memorial for Thomas Berry will be held at St. Gabriel’s Church in Toronto, Ontario.


We hope this newsletter provides you with new possibilities for your engagements with religion and ecology, from reflection on the critical issues of our day to participation in holiday celebrations.



Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

California Institute of Integral Studies

Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale

Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors



2. Message from Members of the Religions of the World Gathered at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

We, from the major faith communities of the world, meeting at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Melbourne, Australia, from 3rd to 9th December 2009, send warm greetings to all who are gathering at Copenhagen for your crucially important Conference. We wish to assure you that prayers are being lifted up around the world for this meeting as we recognize that climate change is the single most important issue presently confronting us and the entire Earth community.


Climate change and other critical environmental crises are intricately linked with the financial crisis.  We call on all nations of the world, particularly the rich, to recognize humanity’s dependency on the natural environment and therefore on the health and well-being of the planet and seek solutions with the utmost urgency for the global environmental and economic systems.


We therefore call for a meaningful agreement that places the well-being of people and planet before profit.


We believe a dramatic reduction of carbon emissions is possible using the natural energy of the planet, which comes from renewable resources such as the sun, wind, waves, biogas. Therefore we call for a commitment to an immediate turning from reliance on fossil fuel energy and a planned and phased decline in its use in order to bring CO2 emissions down to 350 ppm.


We believe there is a moral imperative for rich countries to reduce carbon emissions and share wealth and skills with developing countries to adapt to climate change and build their economies sustainably


Climate justice is essential for a sustainable future. Either we follow the moral principles of justice, upheld by all faith communities, and share equitably the resources of the world, or we continue to consume excessively, resulting in ever more conflict and environmental destruction.


We, religious leaders of the world, therefore call on the governments of the world to implement the following resolution: 




As people of faith, we believe we have a responsibility to the source of life and to future generations to care for this planet – our home. We therefore call on the governments of the world when they meet at the UNFCCC at Copenhagen to take urgent and meaningful action to stem climate change.


Following the latest scientific evidence we believe we cannot allow temperatures to rise by 2 degrees. We therefore call for a reduction of CO2 emissions to a target of 350 ppm, ensuring that emissions will have peaked by 2015 in all countries, to then decline to at least 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.


We pray wisdom and courage to do what is right.

Issued by Bishop Geoff Davies on behalf of all who endorsed it at the Parliament of the World’s Religions meeting in Melbourne, 3 – 9 December 2009
(Mobile:++27 83 754 5275)



3. Pope’s World Day of Peace Message on Climate Change

A note from the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

In a wide-ranging World Day of Peace message on climate change and environmental justice, Pope Benedict today recalled for us our biblical traditions, highlighted teachings from previous popes and urged all to “rethink the path which we are travelling together.”


“If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation” will undoubtedly be seen as a landmark and urgent call to care for God’s gift of creation. And it comes just as negotiators in Copenhagen try to agree on a global treaty curtailing greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change.


Throughout the message, Pope Benedict links peace with authentic human development and this development must include a profound respect for creation: “The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation.”


He reiterates and summarizes themes the Church has been emphasizing since climate change first became a significant concern: “I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed life-style, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow.”


“We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries,” he continues.   “We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new life-styles, ‘in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.’”


We encourage you to read and carefully study the message and hope you find in it new inspiration to promote peace by protecting creation.

To read the full World Day of Peace message, visit:


4. Theological Responses to Climate Change: Resources by 
the Lutheran World Federation

The Department for Theology and Studies in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has two new resources related to climate change:

One of the recent study programs of the Department for Theology and Studies in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) brought theological, spiritual and ethical reflection to bear on actual experiences and work being carried out through LWF field programs and member churches, especially in those parts of the world most vulnerable to climate change. Such reflection has the potential to challenge how we view urgent climate change crises and related developments and how we seek to redress them, as a matter of justice toward other people, the rest of creation and the future. For more information, visit:

Two important resources arose with this study program:

1. God, Creation and Climate Change: A Resource for Reflection and Discussion
2. “An LWF Climate Change Encounter in India”


God, Creation and Climate Change: A Resource for Reflection and Discussion
By Karen L. Bloomquist with Rolita Machila
The Lutheran World Federation, 2009


I. What is going on?
II. God and climate change?

III. The Triune God is intimately related with all of creation

IV. So what about human beings?

V. The redemption of all creation

VI. Notes

VII. Appendix

For the full text, visit:


An LWF Climate Change Encounter in India”
The Lutheran World Federation, 2009

About 25 persons from India and other countries met in the coastal community of Puri, India, 16-20 April 2009 to witness firsthand the dramatic effect of climate change in the area, and to reflect on interconnections with developments in other parts of the world. What they saw were disturbing changes such as villages swallowed by the sea or “climate refugees” struggling for survival in the teeming metropolis of Calcutta. What they experienced was hope in the form of strong bonds of care and communal sharing, an intimate connection between the spiritual and the practical, and a strong sense of empowerment to take responsibility for the future. What they heard was an invitation to inform others about their encounters and the keen desire for global solidarity.

For the full article, visit:






5. First Study Abroad Program on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC) introduces an eight-week study abroad program (June 7 - July 30, 2010) focusing on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through professional training, hands-on learning, and cultural immersion, students will embark on experiencing how global climate change influences sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Students will have the opportunity to explore firsthand the diverse direct and indirect effects of a changing climate on natural and human systems. Students are encouraged both individually and as a group to delve into complex topics and address challenging questions relevant to contemporary regional and national climate change problems. CATHALAC provides knowledgeable, experienced professionals who guide and mentor students in their learning process. This unique program offers university students and young professionals the opportunity to experience a new culture while working towards promoting sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The deadline for applications is March 8, 2010. Early applications are encouraged.


For more information, visit:






6. Workshop: “Religion in Global Environmental and Climate Change: Sufferings, Values, Lifestyles”

On January 11–13, 2010 in Telegraphenberg, Potsdam, Germany, a workshop will be held on “Religion in Global Environmental and Climate Change: Sufferings, Values, Lifestyles.” The workshop is organized by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim and the University of Greifswald, in association with the European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.


The workshop aims for a novel dialogue between researchers from both the natural sciences and the humanities concerned with the causes and consequences of anthropogenic global climate and environmental change. The focus is on religion as a cultural microcosm of people’s manifold perceptions, activities, and modes of thought (worldviews, moral systems, practices, aesthetics, lifestyles) in view of global change and climate change in particular. Religious worldviews inform the activities of a large majority of the world population and, thus, religion and spirituality are crucial factors influencing environmentally relevant behavior. This influence, however, is ambiguous: on the one hand, there is a tendency for religious organizations and individuals to become “greener” while screening their traditions for moral imperatives to respect the natural environment; on the other hand, certain belief systems may lead to fatalism regarding dangerous climatic and other environmental changes.


In the workshop, the notion of religion is approached from various theological, ethical, philosophical, ethnological, anthropological, and historical angles. Based on regional case studies and on synthesizing global perspectives, the presentations and discussions exemplify religion as a core element of the mutual relationships between humans and their environment. They also discuss alternative approaches to the global climate change predicament by presenting narratives and ways beyond the prevailing technologically and economically oriented solutions. A further objective is to identify key methods and theories and to sketch ways how these can be combined in an inter-/transdisciplinary manner.


For details and modes of participation, please contact Dieter Gerten at

For More Information, visit:




7. Winter Solstice Celebration with the Paul Winter Consort


This month the Paul Winter Consort will be presenting their 30th annual Winter Solstice Celebration at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. For these gala 30th anniversary performances, the Consort will be joined by two special guest ensembles: Russia’s Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble, and New York’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre.


The Consort will include soprano saxophonist Paul Winter, woodwind master Paul McCandless, cellist Eugene Friesen, keyboardist Paul Sullivan, percussionists Jamey Haddad and Bill Cahn, bassist Eliot Wadopian, and organist Tim Brumfield.


The four performances are: December 17 & 18 at 8 pm; December 19 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm. To purchase tickets, download a free album or find out more information visit:





8. Bring Back the Sun: A Solstice Celebration & Memorial of the Life of Thomas Berry


On December 21, 2009 at 7-9pm, there will be a Winter Solstice Celebration and Memorial for Thomas Berry at St. Gabriel’s Church in Toronto, Ontario. 

Join us for reflections, tributes, music, and more, all to celebrate the Great Work of Thomas Berry, CP. Reception following.

Passionist Centre for Ecology and Spirituality

St. Gabriel’s Church

670 Sheppard Ave. E., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

(1.5 blocks East of Bayview Subway Station)


Sponsored by the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology:

For more information, contact or






9. Holiday Discount Gift Order from Producers of RENEWAL

With the Holidays fast approaching, there may be no better way for readers of the Forum’s newsletter to help build the religious-environmental movement than by giving RENEWAL as a gift to someone who will enjoy and use it. A family member, a friend, a religious leader at your house of worship, etc.


RENEWAL is the first feature-length film to tell the stories of America’s growing grassroots religious-environmental movement. Its world premier was held at Yale’s “Renewing Hope: Pathways of Religious Environmentalism” conference and just last week it was honored with a special screening at the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, in Melbourne, Australia. 


This groundbreaking documentary is being used successfully by houses of worship, schools and community groups across the nation to inspire action for a sustainable future. 


If you’ve never seen RENEWAL, you may enjoy watching a two minute trailer:


With this special Holiday Gift Offer to Forum Newsletter readers, we’re pleased to offer a special 20% discount coupon you can use when ordering the DVD.  Simply visit our Renewal Project website and enter discount coupon code: FORE1209  


And while you’re visiting the website, take a few minutes to look around and see what’s new. You may be especially interested to find our free comprehensive Screening Guide (designed for group leaders who want to put together successful RENEWAL screening events) along with a Handout for Screenings (tips, ideas, info for anyone who attends a screening).


We’re pleased that RENEWAL is playing a leading role in helping to build the religious-environmental movement and creating a more sustainable earth-friendly future. And we thank you for the part that you’re playing in this effort as well.


Happy Holidays from Marty Ostrow and Terry Kay Rockefeller

Producers of RENEWAL






10. The Spirit of Sustainability


The work of many members of the Forum is now available in the first volume in the 10-volume Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability (2009-2011). This set (which will also be an ongoing online publication) comes from Berkshire Publishing and will cover all aspects of environmental sustainability. Volume 1, The Spirit of Sustainability, was edited by Willis Jenkins with Whitney Bauman, and is designed to be a resource for scholars as well as undergraduates, high school students and their teachers, and professional people.


For more information, visit:





11. New Books

Yoga and Ecology: Dharma for the Earth
Edited by Chrisopher Key Chapple
Contemporary Issues in Constructive Dharma Vol. 6
Proceedings of Sessions of the Fourth DANAM Conference
Deepak Heritage Books, 2009 
This book seeks to provide four points of connection that can help elucidate the ways in which the ancient and continuing tradition of Yoga might prove a relevant and helpful dialogue partner as the religious philosophies of the world grapple with the looming threat of climate change, species decimation, and an overall diminishment of the prospects for a healthy planet.

Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University. He has published several books, including Karma and Creativity (1986), a co-translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1991) and Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions (1993), Hinduism and Ecology (2000) with Mary Evelyn Tucker, Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life (2002) and Reconciling Yogas (2003). 



Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape

By Alfred K. Siewers
The New Middle Ages Series

Palgrave Macmillan, 2009


Strange Beauty brings the developing discipline of environmental literary criticism to bear on narratives of nature and the Otherworld from early cultures around the Irish Sea. Reflecting on an Otherworld associated with human experience, Siewers uses texts such as the Ulster Cycle and the Mabinogi to relate views of nature, symbolism and language. This book uncovers early syntheses of Christian and indigenous Insular cultures which express an integration of the spiritual and physical landscapes that are marginalized in later medieval thought. Strange Beauty opens a window on distinctive alternative views of the relation of culture to nature still relevant today.


Alfred K. Siewers is Associate Professor of English at Bucknell University, where he teaches medieval literature and coordinates the Nature and Human Communities program of the Bucknell Environmental Center. He co-edited, with Jane Chance, Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages, also in The New Middle Ages series.




12. Free Religious Study Guides and DVD of National Parks Film Clips



Earth Ministry is pleased to announce the release of two free religious study guides and a DVD of clips to accompany Ken Burns’ stunning new film: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Starting on September 27, PBS broadcast this beautiful 12-hour portrait of our national parks. Shot over six years, the film describes the evolution of the national park concept and the development of the National Park System, which now protects 84 million acres. The film also features many individual stories of those who were instrumental in protecting the parks as well as those who have had important experiences in the parks.


Earth Ministry is proud to be an outreach partner of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Through this partnership we are offering free download of two religious study guides to complement the film: a four-session Christian education course (And God Saw That It Was Good), and a one-session interfaith course (Awakening the Spirit). 


A DVD that includes beautiful clips from the film is available to accompany both of the adult education guides.  
Order a free DVD of film clips and download the religious study guides here: 

13. PelicanWeb’s Journal of Sustainable Development



We are happy to share news with you about the December issue of PelicanWeb’s Journal of Sustainable Development. Edited by Luis T. Gutierrez, this issue is Part 9 of the series on “Education for Sustainable Development.” The issue includes the following sections:


Section 1. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
Section 2. Integral Human Development (IHD)
Section 3. ESD/IHD and Gender Balance
Section 4. ESD/IHD and the Rich/Poor Gap
Section 5. ESD/IHD and the MDGs
Section 6. ESD/IHD and Political Will
Section 7. ESD/IHD and Democratic Governance
Section 8. ESD/IHD and Technological Innovation
Section 9. Suggestions for Prayer, Study, and Action

Invited articles include:

New Perspectives on Faith and Development, by Rowan Williams (UK)
Creating Gender Equality in the 21st Century, by Susan Smalley (USA)
Children Targeted as Witches in the Congo, by Danielle Shapiro (USA)
Symbolic Poverty, by Mats Winther (Sweden)


To read this web journal, visit:




14. 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:

For more information on other journals related to religion and ecology and to environmental ethics/philosophy, visit: If you know of a publication that needs to be added to this list, email