Photos from the Seder were taken in low-light. We are grateful to have them! Thanks to Neysa Nevins for the visuals.
This reflection is inspired by the beautiful interfaith Seder that I participated in recently, jointly prepared and led by two women religious leaders, a rabbi and a minister (and that in itself was a gracious experience for this Catholic woman). The evening ceremony was focused on the theme of climate justice, and it was scheduled to coincide with “Earth Hour”, when electric lights around the world are turned off for one hour to shine a light on the need for climate action. The Seder was sponsored by Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light. In the beauty of candlelight, we commemorated the ancient traditions and living faiths of Judaism and Christianity.
During the service, Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein spoke of the symbolism of the matzo bread on each person’s plate. It is unleavened – that is, not puffed up, but plain, made with few ingredients and quickly-baked. Like our essential selves stripped of ego-puffiness, it is a bread that reminds us of what is basic and true. It is a bread of poverty, and also the bread that symbolizes freedom. It reminds us that even when what we have is humble and simple, we have enough. I could meditate on this for weeks.
The Church of the Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Catholic Church to most locals) is celebrating a Season of Creation from September 1-October 4 (the Feast of St. Francis) this year. In the leadup to that season, their Living Laudato Si study group
welcomes everyone —community members and parishioners— to join them in the Parish Hall for a viewing of Episode 1 of Earth: The Operators’ Manual (54 min.), followed by a discussion with Ken Davis, member of Good Shepherd and a climate scientist at Penn State.
The series is informative, watchable, hopeful, and even funny at times, and will give us lots to talk about. Official description below the trailer.
Earth: The Operators’ Manual. An operator’s manual helps keep your car or computer running at peak performance. Earth science can do the same for the planet. Join host Richard Alley – PSU professor, registered Republican, geologist, former oil company employee and expert on climate change and renewable energy — on a high definition trip around the globe to learn the story of Earth’s climate history and our relationship with fossil fuels. In this documentary, a diverse cast of Earth “operators” are proving that when the Earth’s bounty meets human ingenuity, there are many reasons to be optimistic about our energy future.
President Trump’s announcement on June 1, 2017 that he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement has inspired a diverse chorus of condemnation from religious leaders and organizations in the U.S. and across the globe. If your tradition or denomination has issued a statement that you don’t see listed below, please let us know. And if your tradition or denomination has not yet released a statement, ask your leaders to do so—and send them this page of religious statements for inspiration!
Religious Statements Condemning U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement
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.
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.
Thursday, February 25, 2016 Villanova Room, Connelly Center
9:30–10AM Refreshments and Registration
10:00–11:30 AM Presentation by Cardinal Turkson with Multi-faith Responses & Roundtable Conversation
Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
Rev. J. Anyabwile Bankole, Greater Mount Vernon Baptist Church
Imam Sohaib Sultan, Princeton University
Sister Marie Cook, Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center
You are invited to share in this unique opportunity to learn the story behind the creation of Laudato Si and to discuss its impact in diverse religious communities and within the wider environmental movement.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson serves as the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Working with the Council, Cardinal Turkson had primary responsibility for developing the first draft of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.
International leaders brought emissions-reduction commitments with them to this conference. Those commitments are not yet binding, and they’re not yet enough to keep us under 2 degrees Celsius* of warming, but they’re working on it (keep those prayers flowing—they’re needed!) We, however, don’t have to wait for an international agreement to make our own changes. The Paris Pledge is open to both congregations and to individuals; it is a promise to cut emissions 50% by 2030 and to zero by 2050.
NOTE: Both congregations and individuals may continue to add their commitments at the Paris Pledge website. Signatures through last Wednesday have been added to a large scroll that is with the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham and Sister Joan Brown in Paris, which will be presented on December 11 at the conference, in the Blue Zone (that’s the zone with the international bigwigs). Tune in tomorrow for the story of a congregation that has REACHED carbon neutral — including members’ transportation to church!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Benedictine Sisters of Erie Sign Paris Pledge
Erie, Pennsylvania – November 24, 2015 – Long known as environmental leaders in the Erie area, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie have taken a decisive step in their commitment to environmental sustainability by pledging to reduce their carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2050. They along with 150 other Religious Organizations and 3,500 individuals have signed the Paris Pledge. A scroll with the pledge and all its signers will be presented at the international climate conference being held in Paris, France over the next several weeks. It is hoped that the 150 nations represented at CPO21, the 21st “Conference of Parties” will establish internationally agreed upon targets to curb ongoing Climate Change.
The Paris Pledge was developed by Interfaith Power and Light, an organization of 18,000 religious congregations and organizations located in 40 states throughout the US. Through this pledge they intend to lead by example and clearly state that Faith Leaders in the US are committed to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the impact of human activity on Climate Change.
“Care for the earth has been integral to the Benedictine Charism since our very foundation in the 6th century,” explains Sister Anne Wambach, Prioress. “The Erie Benedictines have consciously and deliberately included this responsibility in our community’s Corporate Commitment and have taken significant steps, both as community and as individuals, to deepen our understanding and take concrete and intentional actions toward sustainable living.”
Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si`, clearly lays out the crisis that our planet faces and calls all of us, all nations, all religions, all people, to a find a common solution to Climate Change. In his words: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. . . . Regrettably, many efforts . . . have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. . . . All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” (14)
“We urge everyone to make his/her their own commitment to reduce carbon pollution through energy conservation, purchasing electricity from a ‘green provider,’ and making use of renewable energy products and sources,” Sister Anne continued. “If we expect nations to commit to significant energy policies, then we should do so ourselves, at home, in the workplace, in our churches, and in all the places that touch our lives.”
For further information regarding the Paris Pledge and practical ways to reduce carbon pollution, please contact Annette Marshall, OSB (572-8325) or Pat Lupo, OSB (490-3108).
*2 degrees Celsius never sounds like much. It’s important to realize that that’s a global average. The 20th century global average that is the baseline against which that change is marked is 13.9 degrees Celsius. That means that a 2C increase for the Earth is proportionally the same as a 14 F increase in body temperature (for a deadly body temp of more than 112F) for a human being. Perspective is everything!