July 2012

The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
6.7 (July 2012)




1. Editorial: “Journey of the Universe Wins Emmy,” by Elizabeth McAnally

2. Yale Summer Symposium on Religion and Environmental Stewardship: Review by Matt Riley

3. Sophia Summer Institute: “Our Way into the Future: A Celebration of the Story and Work of Our Time” (July 19-22, 2012 in Oakland, CA, USA)

4. Documentary Film The Fire Inside Screens at Yale Summer Symposium

5. Interreligious Statement: “Towards Rio + 20 and Beyond – A Turning Point in Earth History”

6. The Pinchot Letter, by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation

7. New Books

8. Events

9. Calls for Papers

10. “Green Spirituality and the Limits to Modernity,” by James Miller

11. Job Opening: Andreas Idreos Chair in Science and Theology at Oxford University

Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

1. Editorial: “Journey of the Universe Wins Emmy,” by Elizabeth McAnally




Welcome to the July issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology. I have much to share with you this month with regards to developments in the field of Religion and Ecology, including publications, conferences, events, calls for papers, and more.


One month ago on June 9 in San Francisco the Journey of the Universe film won the regional (Northern California) EMMY® Award for Best Documentary. The EMMY® award is presented for outstanding achievement in television by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). The San Francisco/Northern California region includes entries released in 2011 from Northern California, Hawaii, and Reno, Nevada. We greatly appreciate the warm reception that Journey has received, and are thrilled to be able to share this news with all of our wonderful friends and supporters. For more information about the Journey of the Universe Trilogy (film, book, and educational series of interviews), visit: www.journeyoftheuniverse.org. The Journey of the Universe Facebook page is a great way to connect with others and show your support for the project. Come “Like” us on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=212293652138039#!/pages/Journey-of-the-Universe/179213572122084


It is also exciting to inform you that the Forum on Religion and Ecology organized a 3 day summer symposium from June 5-7 at Yale between the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School. The symposium celebrated the new Porter Chair in Religion and Environmental Stewardship. There was great energy and enthusiasm at the symposium, and some of the papers can be viewed online. Of particular note are those by Larry Rasmussen and Tom Troeger. Matt Riley provides an excellent review of the symposium, which can be found below. For more information, visit: http://fore.research.yale.edu/yale-summer-symposium-religion-and-environmental-stewardship


The Earth Charter celebrated 20 years from its origin at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 at the Rio+20 conference on environment and sustainable development which was held June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Charter participated in a number of important events and received a Google award. See http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/categories/earth%20charter%20and%20rio%202012 On a related note, an interreligious statement, “Towards Rio + 20 and Beyond – A Turning Point in Earth History,” has recently been released. To read the statement, visit: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/towards-rio-20-and-beyond/

Finally, I am happy to let you know about the Spring issue of the Pinchot Letter published by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. In this letter, you will find a variety of thoughtful articles, including a transcript of the Pinchot Lecture given by Mary Evelyn Tucker, “An Integrated Story for an Ecological Civilization.” To read this lecture along with the full letter, visit: http://www.pinchot.org/uploads/download?fileId=1140


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


Warm wishes,
Elizabeth McAnally
California Institute of Integral Studies
Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale
Website Manager & Newsletter Editor

2. Yale Summer Symposium on Religion and Environmental Stewardship: Review by Matt Riley


Yale Summer Symposium: Religion and Environmental Stewardship


Environmental Education For Clergy, Lay Leaders, and Seminary Faculty
Bringing Together Science, Theology, and Ethics


June 5-7, 2012 at Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven CT




Thomas Berry described the early years of the twenty-first century as a moment of grace. Moments of grace, Thomas explained, are times of transformation and renewal that emerge out of deeply felt sensitivities to, and experiences of, community. These moments are simultaneously cosmological, historical and religious in nature. As I reflect on the Yale Summer Symposium on Religion and Environmental Stewardship that took place earlier this month at the Yale Divinity School, I cannot help but think of the conference as such a transformative moment.


We gathered as a community of scholars, church leaders, musicians, scientists, liturgists, and students for three days of scholarship, deep spiritual reflection, and shared story. What emerged from our three days together was a remarkable confluence between the academic field of religion and ecology and the moral force of our religious communities to address an issue that we all care deeply about: the worsening ecological crisis and our role, as members of the human, Earth, and Universe communities to do something about it.


While it is never easy when reflecting so soon after an occasion such as this to put one’s finger on exactly what it was that made that particular moment shine, I feel confident in observing at least five intersections where the energy and passion of the conference participants was unmistakable:


First, the liturgical elements were both innovative and uniquely compelling. Yale Professor of Christian Communication Tom Troeger and singer/songwriter Maggi Dawn, along with both students and alumni, brought together religion and ecology not just in an academic way, but through instrumental music, worship, prayer, jazz, and hymns. Weaving together Christian worship, cosmology, and love of the Earth, they invoked music and preaching that was simultaneously reveling and revelatory. Simply put, it was an instance of unparalleled grace and synchronicity.


Second, we were treated to several inspiring displays of cooperative thinking and surprisingly productive riffing between scientists and theologians that went above and beyond the norm. In particular, Yale Divinity School professor Willis Jenkins and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies professor Os Schmidt demonstrated just how smooth and compelling a dialogue between a scientist and a theological ethicist can (and should) be. By approaching the same environmental question not just from two disparate fields, but intentionally with each other, through one another, and in a mutually supportive way, they demonstrated what I consider to be a new benchmark in collaborative thought. Having seen dozens of similar attempts, I regarded it as a breakthrough in terms of both intellectual cohesion and discursive fluidity between representatives from the realms of religion and science.


Third, there seemed to be a terrific amount of energy amongst the clergy and church leaders in attendance in regards to the Journey of the Universe project. Jim Antal, the Massachusetts conference president of the United Church of Christ (UCC) seemed almost supercharged with his enthusiasm for what the film could do in the UCC church. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, the organizers of the conference, drew upon Thomas Berry’s recent book The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth to translate the message contained in the Journey of the Universe into uniquely Christian terms. Conversing with my fellow attendees afterwards, I had the impression that not only was Tucker and Grim’s translation of the cosmological ideas of differentiation, subjectivity, communion into Trinitarian terms a singular expression of creativity and vision, but it was also experienced as a moment of hope and inspiration.


Fourth, I think that religion and ecology as an academic field and moral force is really starting to see the potential that can be reached when the academic aspects of religion and ecology are matched up carefully in an engaging and creative way with on-the-ground preaching, practical training, greening of facilities, and other engaged practices. With presentations from Laurel Kearns and Beth Norcross of the Green Seminary Initiative, a lively workshop by GreenFaith’s Fletcher Harper and Stephanie Johnson of the Episcopal Bishops of New England, and other similarly engaged practitioners, presenters seemed to be reaching the audience at a level where participants felt not just intellectually, theologically, or morally compelled in respect to environmental issues, but they also felt empowered and engaged. More and more, individuals are connecting the theoretical with the practical, and the presenters at this symposium seemed to have established a degree of resonance that will be the benchmark for years to come.


Lastly, this particular symposium was simply buzzing with energy from students, from church leaders, from ministers, and from the academics in attendance. The energy level and enthusiasm was almost palpable and this made all the difference. As eco-theologian Larry Rasmussen spoke of the transforming power of science and religion to guide us through the “emergence of ecological civilization in the Anthropocene,” for instance, faces in the audience lit up and those seated around me hung poised on every word. Larry’s talk, with his focus on topics as far ranging as the guiding ethic of the Earth Charter or the orienting story of the Journey of the Universe film, was but one example of the many innovative and thought provoking presentations that captured the imagination of those present. The passion and enthusiasm of the attendees for the entire three days of the conference was more than palpable, it was electrifying!


That we are experiencing a moment of grace is clear. As Thomas tells us, such moments are privileged moments. On the one hand, we stand poised on the brink of ecological despair. On the other hand, we are given moments such as these where community, scholarship, and the guiding traditions of the world religions converge to remind us that we are not lacking in the creative energy needed to move ahead into the future. Moments of grace can lead to moments of transformation. This symposium, this moment of community, was perhaps such a moment.


Matt Riley

3. Sophia Summer Institute: “Our Way into the Future: A Celebration of the Story and Work of Our Time” (July 19-22, 2012 in Oakland, CA, USA)


Summer Institute — July 19-22, 2012
Post-Institute Retreat — July 22-24, 2012


Holy Names University
3500 Mountain Blvd.
Oakland, CA, USA


Presenters include: Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Fox, Diarmuid O’Murchu, Miriam Therese Winter, Peter Mayer, Jim Conlon, and Belvie Rooks.


The Sophia Center is a wisdom school celebrating earth, art, and spirit. The Sophia Center story is a story of the emergence of creation spirituality, the New Universe Story and Great Work of Our Time.


Conference website:


Download the Summer Institute Brochure & Registration Form:

4. Documentary Film The Fire Inside Screens at Yale Summer Symposium


Filmmaker Phil Walker and co-producer Dr. Rebecca Gould, associate professor at Middlebury College, presented their 30-minute documentary The Fire Inside – Place, Passion and the Primacy of Nature for participants of the recent Yale Summer Symposium on June 5-7. The film follows a small, diverse group on a contemplative retreat with writer and wilderness guide Kurt Hoelting. The project began as a response to the complex and numerous challenges before us, from climate change to various forms of habitat destruction. But the film primarily speaks to questions surrounding the personal crises many of us experience such as “nature deficit disorder”, hectic lives and concerns about our future. Participants in the film explore these questions through immersion in nature, contemplative practice, and shared experiences. The voices presented in the film range from the scientific to the spiritual, from Buddhist, Christian and Jewish perspectives, to those of no particular faith at all. The Fire Inside offers a starting place for discussion on various issues and how we might respond to the challenges ahead. You can find out more about the project and watch the entire film online at: fireinsidefilm.com

5. Interreligious Statement: “Towards Rio + 20 and Beyond – A Turning Point in Earth History”


As leaders, teachers, and students of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions, we are appalled that the interconnected problems of development, equity and ecology have become more severe over the past twenty years.


Many of the dangerous trends we are witnessing are a result of our current, unsustainable, growth-based economic paradigm. We urgently need to change current mindsets towards a sharp focus on the goals of material sufficiency, the eradication of poverty, equitable distribution, and sustainable wellbeing and human happiness.


This is a solemn moment of global decision making. The Rio + 20 Conference provides a historic opportunity to lead the world into a more sustainable future. We do not have another twenty years to lose.


To move forward in our best interests and even more in the interests of those yet to be born, we must fundamentally change the concepts that underlie our negotiation practices and realize that only together can we forge inclusive solutions.


Humble in the consciousness that the consequences of our decisions and actions will be felt by many generations to come, we turn to the Source of All Blessings for strength and courage. May our children, and our children’s children take pride in our actions.


Read full statement here:


6. The Pinchot Letter, by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation


Vol. 16, No. 3, Spring 2012




* Essential Tools for Sustaining America’s Forests: Reauthorizing Stewardship Contracts on Federal Lands

* A Conservation Ethic for a Changing World

* The Pinchot Lecture by Mary Evelyn Tucker: “An Integrated Story for an Ecological Civilization”

* Earth as Biodiversity Hotspot: Environmental Stewardship in the Next Era of Conservation

* Book Review: Federal Lands and the Eye of the Beholder

* Study Challenges Carbon Absorption Potential of Future Forests

* Common Waters Fund Receives Partnership Award

* Darshini Prabhakher Joins Pinchot Institute Management Team


To read full letter, visit: http://www.pinchot.org/uploads/download?fileId=1140

7. New Books


Invisible Excursions: A Compass for the Journey
By Jim Conlon
Wyndham Hall Press, 2012


Invisible Excursions offers a fascinating new perspective of the planet and our relationship with it. Drawing from the work of three great thinkers of our time–Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, and Matthew Fox–Jim Conlon explores critical events in religion, politics, arts and popular culture that have shaped world history from the 1930s to the present, and explains how these events have influenced the spiritual journey of the people at each juncture. Invisible Excursions is a guide to spirituality of Earth, Art and Spirit, showing truth seekers how to find their way in this evolutionary journey by the simple analogy of a compass. The book offers a rich and viable alternative to traditional theology that is not based on reactionary, fundamentalist conformity, but on a modern, holistic model of spirituality and the vision of a new global civilization that both fulfills our human destiny and responds to the needs of the earth.




Only One Earth: The Long Road via Rio to Sustainable Development
By Felix Dodds, Michael Strauss, Maurice F. Strong
Routledge, 2012


Forty years after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the goal of sustainable development continues via the Rio+20 conference in 2012. This book will enable a broad readership to understand what has been achieved in the past forty years and what hasn’t. It shows the continuing threat of our present way of living to the planet. It looks to the challenges that we face twenty years from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, “The Earth Summit,” in Rio, in particular in the areas of economics and governance and the role of stakeholders. It puts forward a set of recommendations that the international community must address now and in the future. It reminds us of the planetary boundaries we must all live within and what needs to be addressed in the next twenty years for democracy, equity and fairness to survive. Finally it proposes through the survival agenda a bare minimum of what needs to be done, arguing for a series of absolute minimum policy changes we need to move forward.




Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change
By Katharine K. Wilkinson
Oxford University Press, 2012


Drawing on extensive focus group and textual research and interviews, Between God & Green explores the phenomenon of climate care, from its historical roots and theological grounding to its visionary leaders and advocacy initiatives. Wilkinson examines the movement’s reception within the broader evangelical community, from pew to pulpit. She shows that by engaging with climate change as a matter of private faith and public life, leaders of the movement challenge traditional boundaries of the evangelical agenda, partisan politics, and established alliances and hostilities. These leaders view sea-level rise as a moral calamity, lobby for legislation written on both sides of the aisle, and partner with atheist scientists. Wilkinson reveals how evangelical environmentalists are reshaping not only the landscape of American climate action, but the contours of their own religious community. Though the movement faces complex challenges, climate care leaders continue to leverage evangelicalism’s size, dominance, cultural position, ethical resources, and mechanisms of communication to further their cause to bridge God and green.




Sharing Eden: Green teachings from Jews, Christians and Muslims
By Natan Levy, Harfiyah Haleem, and David Shreeve
The Conservation Foundation and Kube Publishing, 2012


Today’s environmental concerns can trace their heritage through scriptures, teachings and actions known to generations across the centuries. The millions of followers of the Abrahamic faiths have the potential to turn their common environmental awareness into a worldwide force for the future of the planet they share with all people of faith - and of none. Combining a lightness of touch with some of the most beautiful and enlightening texts from the Abrahamic scriptures, Sharing Eden is just a beginning.




Creation and Salvation
Volume 1: A Mosaic of Selected Classic Christian Theologies

Edited by Ernst M. Conradie
Studies in Religion and the Environment/Studien zur Religion und Umwelt
Lit Verlag, 2012

Christian activists may work with others to “save the planet”. Theological reflection on such earthkeeping praxis would need to relate “creation” with “salvation”. However, to do justice to both themes is not easy. This volume explores the ways in which selected classic Christian theologies have grappled with this problem. It includes essays by Svein Rise on Irenaeus, Denis Edwards on Athanasius, Sigurd Bergmann on Gregory of Nazianz, Scott Dunham on Augustine, Elizabeth Theokritoff on Maximus the Confessor, Mary Grey on Medieval female mystics, Ilia Delio on the Franciscan tradition, William French on Thomas Aquinas, Paul Santmire on Martin Luther and Ernst Conradie on John Calvin. A second volume addressing perspectives on the same theme from recent theological movements is currently in progress.

8. Events


Sharing the Wisdom, Shaping the Dream: Deep Transition”
Sisters of Earth Conference
St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN, USA
July 12-15, 2012


Saving the Future”
2012 Conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS)
Silver Bay Conference Center, Lake George, NY, USA
July 28 - August 3, 2012


Creation, Humanity and Science in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition”
Old Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
July 29 - August 12, 2012


Christian Faith and the Earth: Respice et Prospice”
Sustainability Institute, Lynedoch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
August 6-10, 2012


Nature and the Popular Imagination”
5th Conference of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC)
Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA, USA
August 8-11, 2012


Bioethics: Religious and Spiritual Approaches”
2012 Claremont International Jain Conference
Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA, USA
August 24-25, 2012


Spirituality and Sustainability: A New Path for Entrepreneurship”
Annual Conference of the European Spirituality in Economics and Society (SPES) Forum
Visegrad, Hungary
September 21-23, 2012


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

9. Calls for Papers


2013 Integral Theory Conference: Connecting the Integral Kosmopolitan
San Francisco, CA, USA
July 18 - July 21, 2013
Submission deadline: August 15, 2012


Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy”
European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) biennial conference
Munich, Germany
August 20-24, 2013
Submission deadline: October 15, 2012




2012 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association
International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) sessions
San Francisco, CA, USA
March 27-31, 2013
Submission deadline: September 1, 2012




European Encyclopedia of Animal Welfare
Deadline: Ongoing

10. “Green Spirituality and the Limits to Modernity,” by James Miller


Sustainable China Blog
June 26, 2012


In an online report on Religious Innovation for Sustainable Future, Nina Witoszek (Oslo University) surveys a “pastoral renaissance” taking place across the globe. This renaissance, she declares, is “not just a tide of projects and conferences, but a new-old mindset which aspires to reclaiming nature, culture and spirituality, influencing green architecture and furthering alternative models of consumption.” The report continues with four essays based in China [note: I wrote the essay on China], India, Ghana and Norway, which explore the various ways in which this pastoral renaissance is taking place. The major aspect of this development is that discussion about the relationship between religion and ecology is not simply academic but actively shaping projects, cultures and mindsets in these very different areas of the world. While this in itself would be an important observation, Witoszek probes further into this phenomenon, and ends the opening section of her essay with this intriguing question: Does this green spirituality signify a curious “premodern turn” in Western conceptions of human progress?


Read full article here: http://www.sustainablechina.info/2012/06/26/green-spirituality-limits-modernity/


Visit James Miller’s Sustainable China Blog: http://www.sustainablechina.info/


Read report on “Religious Innovation for Sustainable Future,” by Nina Witoszek: http://www.ceres21.org/media/UserMedia/20120622%20Religious%20innovation%20for%20a%20sustainable%20future.pdf

11. Job Opening: Andreas Idreos Chair in Science and Theology at Oxford University


Oxford University in conjunction with the Ian Ramsey Center is happy to announce a search for the Andreas Idreos professorship in science and theology. The Andreas Idreos Professor will teach and carry out research on questions raised for Theology by the natural and human and social sciences (including moral and social questions), and on the impact of Theology on the natural, human and social sciences. The successful applicant will be an outstanding scholar, with an international reputation and distinguished research profile in Science and Religion and a capacity to provide academic leadership in the subject. He or she will also collaborate in the governance and leadership of the Faculty of Theology, contribute to the development of teaching and research activity in this field, and direct the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. Philosophers interested in issues related to science and theology are encouraged to apply.


The deadline to receive applications is July 16, 2012.



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: