Marywood University Presentation on Laudato Si

The 2015 release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care of Our Common Home, shifted the conversation about ecology, climate change, and environmental impacts on human communities, and emphasized our moral responsibility to care for creation. A great way to consider the teachings offered in the encyclical is to study it with a group in your community.

Marywood slide

Here, we offer a PowerPoint presentation about Laudato Si that was first given by Rabbi Daniel Swartz at Marywood University. Download the presentation here: Marywood Laudato Si, and the full text of the encyclical is available for download here.

Find other Laudato Si resources here, including a study guide for Yom Kippur developed by Rabbi Swartz.


Climate orphans – urgency, action, innovation, and our human community.

Spiritual activist and teacher Eileen Flanagan recently posted an important article and video from Ncholas Kristof, but she had an important prologue — based on her own experience living and working and talking with friends in Africa.  She’s given us permission to repost here.  Check out her upcoming web course!  

EileenFlanagan.jpgI always hesitate to post images that reinforce stereotypes about Africa. The truth is that African farmers have been leading the way in climate adaptation for decades, changing the way they plant crops to adapt to less rainfall, while western politicians debate whether climate change is real and human-made. [Lesotho, Nile, keyhole how-to] Last year at the Paris Climate Summit, I spoke to Africans who are both savvy about world politics–and the injustice of larger economies dragging their feet– while also courageously pushing for bolder action on renewables within their own countries. So this video represents only one African reality, but it is an important and tragic one. It’s also the reality that made me take up climate justice as a calling, especially being the descendent of famine survivors myself. This is why we can’t just wait four years or rely on phone calls to our fossil-fuel-funded politicians. We need courageous action here! The good news is that moving to solar here could also create jobs in the US neighborhoods that need them most, so it’s good for justice all the way around. It’s clear the Federal government is not going to solve this for us. It’s up to us.

The article and video from NIcholas Kristof are at the New York Times.

Other friends have posted and shared this as well.  Over at Beloved Planet [a specifically Christian faith-and-climate blog], the post on this article includes these two paragraphs:

“So, meet two little boys, Fokandraza and Foriavi, among the millions now dubbed “climate orphans” – their parents having left long ago to find work and money in desperate hopes of feeding the family. They live with their aunt, who can’t afford to feed her own children, let alone Fokandraza and Foriavi.

…Remember their names: Fokandraza and Foriavi. We will certainly hear them again, when the Son of Man comes again in his glory. “What you did for Fokandraza and Foriavi, you did for me. And what you did not do for them, you did not do for me.” (Adapted from Matthew 25: 31-46)”


OpEd – “The better angels of our nature” … why Pruitt is wrong for EPA

daniel headshotOpEd by PA IPL board president, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, published in the Scranton Times-Tribune on January 10, 2017.

It’s a basic animal instinct to protect self-interests — your food sources, your life and your offspring. Especially at this time of year, we aspire not to mere base instinct, but rather to the “better angels of our nature” that President Abraham Lincoln spoke about. It’s a common theme of most religions: the moral course of action is to go beyond ourselves to protect those in need.

What is true for us as individuals is also true for societies and countries. A great and moral nation doesn’t just protect self-interests. It builds systems and institutions that protect the weak, the vulnerable and the powerless. One such institution in our country is the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA protects our health, especially of the poor, who suffer first and most from the effects of environmental degradation.

So it is profoundly distressing to look at the record of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice to head the EPA. Mr. Pruitt has taken every opportunity to sue the EPA to stop the agency from acting to protect public health and natural resources.

For example, he sued unsuccessfully to stop standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that crosses state lines, pollution that increases asthma, lung disease and even reduces life spans, particularly among the very young and seniors.

Worse, he sued, also without success, to head off rules to reduce releases of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants. Even tiny amounts of mercury can cause birth defects and permanent brain damage. In these and other cases, Mr. Pruitt ignored the scientific evidence, backed by health experts such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, and the American Public Health Association. He supported the positions of fossil fuel companies.

Mr. Pruitt’s opposition to health and safety protections could have particularly serious repercussions for Pennsylvanians, including the 300,000 children who suffer from asthma and the many older Pennsylvanians who suffer from respiratory conditions. According to the American Lung Association, Pennsylvania already pays $9.4 billion in pollution-related health care costs each year. A Pruitt-run EPA also could abandon clean water safeguards protecting thousands of miles of Pennsylvania streams, which are sources of drinking water, fishing, and recreation.

Mr. Pruitt has demonstrated an … –-> continue reading at the Scranton Times-Tribune –>

Download Rabbi Daniel Swartz’ text study of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sî, including 1- or 2- session discussion options, and excerpts from Laudato Si with facing-page Jewish texts (scripture to present).  Written for Yom Kippur study, but appropriate for study by people of any faith, at any time of the year.

We must stop shouting and listen in love

The following piece by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network appeared in the print edition of his home paper, the York Daily Record on Sunday, December 25, 2016, as well as the Centre Daily Times, and is republished here with permission.  Rev. Hescox works tirelessly for a fast and fair transition to a clean energy economy; he grew up in a coal family in a coal town, and worked for a coal company, so he’s a particularly interesting and important voice for Pennsylvania.

Rev. Mitch Hescox“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all.” The famous Christian proclamation in Luke’s gospel doesn’t seem as realistic this holiday season, but we need to make it so.

Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States.  That’s not going to change for at least four years.  It’s time for our country to put aside partisanship and work together as a nation.  That doesn’t mean we must agree with everything President Trump’s administration will attempt, any more than we have to agree with the Republican-led Congress or for that matter proposals from the Democrats in Congress.  However, it’s time to find common ground where we can; disagree appropriately, and live in light of the vision that the prophet Micah has, “And what does Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

There’s no doubt that America is more divided than at any time since the election of Abraham Lincoln.  The rhetoric, vile comments and outright hate seem to spew continually from ideological bastions from both the right and the left, even in the Christian community.  As an evangelical leader who has been “condemned to Hell” (and received more than a few death threats) for understanding the scientific measurements and rapid rise in temperature as climate change from the right, and dismissed as an uneducated religious zealot for believing that life begins at conception by the left.

It is so easy to assign labels and disparage another human being by –>Continue reading at the Centre Daily Times —>         —>Continue reading at the York Daily Record—>

Read a review and synopsis of Rev. Hescox’ new book, Caring for Creation, co-written with Paul Douglas, meteorologist.

8 Days of Hanukkah, my True Love said to me:

“Please Heal My Earth”

This year, Christmas and Hanukkah converge for the first time in nearly four decades.  Both Christians and Jews will light lights in the darkness tonight, on December 24.  Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center suggests a re-visioning of the menorah as a symbol of our ability to do all of what we need with only 1/8th of what we thought we needed, and suggests eight days of actions which we all can embrace.  Let them inspire you to action, whether these very actions, or some others, rooted in your own faith, wisdom, and traditions.  Reb Arthur: 

Hanukkah brings with it again this year three crucial teachings about healing our Mother Earth from the ravages of global scorching.

The Green Menorah, a Tree of Light that is a fusion of human craft and Earth’s growth. On this Shabbat we read the Prophetic passage from Zechariah (2:14 to 4: 12) that emplaces the Temple Menorah as part of a tiny forest of olive trees that give forth their oil straight into the Menorah.

We breathe in what these Trees of Light breathe out; they breathe in what we breathe out. We Continue reading

“From tears to hope…” with your support

Emily Underwood

Emily Underwood

‘From tears to hope.’ That’s how our Board chair, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, described the journey he and his wife, Rabbi Marjorie Berman, traversed over the past year. After seeing the film Racing Extinction*, together they decided to reduce their consumption of meat to lower their own carbon footprint — and raise their ecological consciousness.  Grieving about what has been lost, and contemplating what is at risk, they found a path forward as they decided ‘we needed to take some action, however simple or symbolic it might be … to help be on the side of stopping destruction and not causing it.’

 ‘From tears to hope’ expresses what many people say when they find PA IPL’s programs and events — joining an Active Hope workshop, or helping remove invasive species as part of a Creation Care workshop; offering testimony at public hearings, or praying with people of many faiths before a march; participating in a Sustained Advocacy training, or attending a fuel bank energy efficiency class; participating in our Annual Conference An Environment of Justice, or visiting a public official after cycling from State College to Washington DC. Each time, with each step and every action, we move towards an affirmation of life, healing what is broken, building what is needed. Moving, collectively, from tears to hope.

Will you help us increase our programming and events, keeping them accessible, affordable and meeting the needs of communities and individuals of faith across Pennsylvania, with your end-of-year donation?


Emily Underwood

Emily Underwood

This year’s successes can be reported in numbers: more than 50 distinct programs, events and communications that directly reached out to nearly 9,000 individuals, and indirectly impacted another 4,000 — none of which would have been possible without people like you: friends, volunteers, supporters, donors. We hail our role in stopping destruction, with our Board’s ‘no new fossil fuel infrastructure’ resolution playing a significant role in the decision to not build out the Southport development on the Delaware River as a fuel depot. And we celebrate the new trees planted in Germantown, signs of new life and health. These are just two examples of where PA IPL has made a difference to our communities. Each is an opportunity to move from tears to hope.

Each of our successes is rooted in your generosity and help. Each time you say ‘yes’ to sponsoring a cyclist, attending an Earth Hour party, bringing a friend to an event, following up on a promise to visit an elected official, writing a letter to the editor, serving on the Board. Our work is made possible by your gifts, and we are so grateful. With every donation you make, we are better able to say ‘yes’ to the requests for our presence and participation.


We know, in the months ahead, there will be a great need to move from tears to hope. In months leading up to the election, and in the weeks since, we have had a glimpse of what is at risk of being destroyed. We know that more tears will be shed. We know we will be called to step up more boldly than ever. And we know that by continuing to do the work we’ve been doing for the last 6 years, we will sustain one another and the communities of which we are a part. We are counting on you for help and support.

Our year-end image for this year is a milkweed pod bursting with seeds about to float on breaths of air to start new plants. It is an apt image for the times, when each of us is called to be seeds of hope, sustenance and change!

Emily Underwood

Emily Underwood



*We have a copy of Racing Extinction to loan to PA IPL members for home or congregational showings. Back to top.