This section of films on Christianity and Ecology is divided into Greek Orthodoxy under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Roman Catholicism with the leadership of Pope Francis and his encyclical Laudato Si,’ and a final section of general videos on Christianity and Ecology, including ones from noted ecotheologians. In addition to this sampling, you can also view a YouTube playlist of Christianity and Ecology videos here.
The following videos of the Religion, Science, and Environment (RSE) Symposia were produced by Becket Films. For an overview of the work of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, we encourage you to read this essay by the theologian John Chryssavgis: “The Green Patriarch: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a Pioneer of Ecological Change.”
THE GREEN PATRIARCH
As we humans drive our fragile planet toward ecocide, what force can stop us, change our behavior? Can religion, espousing an environmental ethic, change how we act? The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the first major Christian leader to make the environment a moral imperative, is a man on a spiritual mission to save our earth, save God’s creation. This intimate portrait of the 270th successor to the Apostle Andrew follows him from the Patriarchate in Istanbul to the burning rainforests of the Amazon to the melting glaciers of the Arctic where he gathered representatives of the world’s religions in a silent prayer for the planet. Bartholomew has been dubbed “The Green Patriarch” for his defense of the environment and the stewardship of all God’s Creation.
THE AEGEAN: APOCALYPSE, REVELATION AND ENVIRONMENT (1995)
“We are assembled on a kind of latter day Ark which in itself is a symbol which would have delighted St. John. We shall be voyaging to Patmos on the sea of possibility from which life emerged.” – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
This film follows the first ever ship borne symposium that traveled the Aegean Sea, culminating on the island of Patmos where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation 1900 years ago. It was on this island that St. John urged Humankind to “not hurt the Earth, neither the Seas.” With his words in mind, the voyage brings more than 200 scientists, religious leaders from many faiths, environmentalists, policy makers and artists together to identify the degeneration of the world’s waters as a new apocalypse confronting the planet. The event is an important step to finding common ground among religious and scientific leaders who share similar concerns about the environment–but whose historical antagonism has often blocked collaboration.
“The work which lies ahead for all those who love life is to translate this world community, which exists as an object under threat more and more, into a subject of promise and hope.” – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
THE ADRIATIC: A SEA AT RISK (2002)
The need for a universal ecological consciousness is now essential to the planet’s survival. With this in mind the Religion, Science and the Environment symposium that sailed the Adriatic Sea focused on how humanity can be inspired towards an ecological ethos. The six countries of the Adriatic range from one of the wealthiest to some of the poorest in Europe, their problems ranging from those of an advanced industrial economy to those in transition and recovery from recent wars. The voyage included visits to toxic hotspots and successful projects protecting the environment. Most memorable was the first Orthodox service held in the Byzantine Basilica of Sant Apollinare in Classe, (Ravenna) and our ships entry into Venice at dawn. The symposium concluded in Venice where the Patriarch and Pope John Paul II came together to sign the Venice Declaration, in which they laid the foundation for developing a joint environmental ethos. “Sailing along the Adriatic coast, it is precisely in an area like this that the question is inevitably raised in our minds - why and how has humankind reached such a deplorable situation? How is it possible that the same human being can create such an admirable culture and destroy their natural environment at the same time?” Metropolitan John of Pergamon
THE BALTIC: A SEA IN PERIL (2003)
Because it is almost entirely enclosed, the Baltic Sea is the world’s most fragile and most polluted of the planet’s bodies of water. It receives pollution from nine countries that have widely disparate natural resources, economies, social structures and mores. Some states are active in protecting the environment, but others are not.
With these geographical circumstances, the Baltic suffers from pollution, utrification, invasive species, oil spills, and dumped World War II chemical weapons. As a result, it has more than 800 toxic hot spots. In this film theologians, scientists, policy makers, environmentalists and journalists generate practical initiatives to protect the Baltic. It illustrates the ecological damage in the Baltic as well as the considerable efforts underway to heal it. In addition, it explores the participants’ continuing quest for a wisdom-based environmental ethos for the world.
THE AMAZON: THE END OF INFINITY (2006)
The Amazon forest—The Green Ocean—is not only the source of the highest biodiversity of life on Earth, but it also acts as a massive hydrological pump that is essential to maintaining climate stability for the whole planet. In effect, the health of the river and the rainforest is fundamental to our survival. But in the last thirty years vast tracts of the Amazon forest have been decimated. To date an area larger than France has been destroyed, and though industry has been good for the Brazilian economy, the cost has been unprecedented drought in Amazonia, increased–and more intense–hurricane activity in North America, and the imminent demise of the Bolivian glaciers.
In Amazon: The End of Infinity, representatives of the indigenous people of Amazonia, Western religious leaders, scientists, environmentalists and policy makers come together to examine the ecological reality in the Amazon basin, the global impact of deforestation and, importantly, to propose sustainable solutions to preserving the forest for the future. The film examines the historical split between religion and science in regards to the environment; the ecological lessons to be learned from the indigenous people of Amazonia; the interdependence of ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods for all those who live in the region; and how compensation for ecological services must be factored into economic equations regarding the ecosystems on which we all depend.
THE ARCTIC: THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUMAN FOLLY (2007)
While the inhabitants of the Arctic have done nothing to contribute to the global ecological crisis, they are first in line to suffer the consequences. Greenland is the canary in the coal mine of immense environmental change in the world. The most obvious crisis is the rapid melting of the ice cap which portends the demise of numerous Arctic species and has made life dangerous for the local Inuit. In addition, global winds and sea currents have brought massive amounts of toxic pollution from other countries, causing disease and birth anomalies in both humans and animals who inhabit the area.
This film follows the coming together amidst the icebergs of top experts on the Arctic, politicians, environmental scientists and religious leaders from Christian, Muslim, Hebrew, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh traditions—along with Saami and Inuit leaders—as they draw attention to the environmental changes in Greenland that are already affecting the rest of the planet. At the same time, they talk about what can be done to turn things around. The Nuclear Power Issue: The symposium featured a debate on nuclear power with both experts and survivors of Hiroshima and Chernobyl. With Hans Blix and Mary Evelyn Tucker.
THE MISSISSIPPI: AT THE TURNING POINT (2009)
In this film scientists, religious leaders, environmental activists, politicians, and the media focus on ecological questions facing the world’s third largest water system. Should coastal areas be abandoned or defended? Is global capitalism compatible with a habitable planet? What lessons were learned from Hurricane Katrina? And is there a way that religion can help save the planet? Though the Mississippi River plays a key role in the American economy, the forces of human progress and the forces of Nature have always been in conflict. Humankind’s goal is for economic growth and prosperity, and for this we have shackled the river with dams to produce electricity and irrigation, built levees to protect from flooding as well as straighten channels to facilitate navigation. With each new imposition on the river for our benefit, however, Nature has fought back and we’ve paid the price later: Now we are dealing with wetland loss, hurricane damage, ecosystem collapse, flooding, pollution, dead zones in the Gulf, toxic spills, and human ill-health. How can we sustain the Mississippi and those who depend upon it? This film offers invaluable clues.
Watch videos related to Pope Francis and his encyclical Laudato Si’ here.
When her faith is challenged by a hurricane, a young evangelical mom must find a new way forward. This film presents her journey with the aim of bringing Christians together to protect God’s creation.
Heather Eaton: “Christianity and Ecology”
Heather Eaton discusses Christianity and Ecology with Mary Evelyn Tucker. “Christianity and Ecology” is part of the larger “Conversations on World Religions and Ecology” project. Watch the whole “Conversations on World Religions and Ecology” series on the Forum on Religion and Ecology YouTube Channel.
“The Abrahamic Response to Journey of the Universe”
Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Heather Eaton, and Safei Eldin Hamed
Journey of the Universe and Our Elegant Universe Symposium
Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Dr. Heather Eaton, and Dr. Safei Eldin Hamed offer responses from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions to Journey of the Universe. Rabbi Troster, a late Jewish environmental activist, draws from the Books of Genesis and Isaiah to suggest that the science of the universe story is offering people a vision of a new heaven and a new Earth. Dr. Heather Eaton, a theologian at Saint Paul University, highlights the need for Christians to retrieve its focus on creation, to reinterpret justice as ecojustice, and to reconstruct theologies of incarnation to encompass the entire Earth community. Dr. Safei Eldin Hamed, a scholar of environmental planning at Chatham University, interprets the Quran to suggest that there is equality between all creatures and that Islam can offer a holistic and functional cosmology for our contemporary world.
Sallie McFague: “A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming”
Renewing Hope Conference
Yale Divinity School
February 28, 2013
The late theologian Dr. Sallie McFague speaks to the need for a new anthropology that orients humanity and challenges the Western paradigms of individualism, consumerism, and ecological destruction. For Dr. McFague, the scientific story of the universe can help Christians reconstruct a functional cosmology grounded in creation and a broadened understanding of salvation that encompasses the entire Earth community.
Katharine Hayhoe: “Climate Change: Faith and Fact”
Interview by Bill Moyers
Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe talks to Bill about ending the gridlock between politics, science and faith.
“We Will Be Part of the Solution”
Au Sable Institute
September 30, 2019
A short introduction to Au Sable Institute and the Biblical mandate to care for God’s good earth.
Watch videos of 2020 Earth Day Sermons here.
Header photo: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Antarctic, ©Nikolaos Manginas