Renewing the Covenant

At our Annual Conference on October 26th, Climate Justice: Faith in Action, one of our presenters will be Victoria Furio, who is on the staff at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and convenes the Climate Justice initiative there.  Union made the news recently as the first seminary to divest from fossil fuels.  With Victoria’s permission, we’re reposting this lovely piece she wrote for the Union Forum.  Join us on October 26th, from 2-6 p.m. at Summit Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to hear more. 

"Storm" by Fanny Schertzer - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Storm.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Storm.jpg

by Victoria Furio

When we see the water ─that most sacred of elements─ disappear from rivers and streams
When we hear the wind howl in yet another massive storm
We will know the future is here.

For many, that future is now, whether it be India, Australia, the Philippines, or the Mid-West, repeatedly ravaged by floods of biblical proportions; or relentless drought creating deserts in Africa, famine in Somalia, and fears of a new Dust Bowl in California and the Southwest. As a warming earth melts Himalayan glaciers, the water of life will cease to trickle into the great Asian rivers from the Ganges to the Yangtze. Where will 1.5 billion people flee to in their desperation?

Not only are humans at risk, but every animal and plant, bird and fish, will soon face the struggle to survive. With predictions of global temperature rises approaching 3ºC as early as 2030 , erratic, extreme weather events will become the norm, coupled by water scarcity and the collapse of food
Continue reading Renewing the Covenant

Embracing discomfort, choosing action.

20140323_113858 - Version 2On Sunday, March 22, PA IPL board member Rev. Doug Hunt was the invited guest preacher at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Pottstown.   Overheard after the service “You know, I’ve heard all that before, but he’s the only one that has gotten me to do something.  I’m going to make some phone calls today.”  It’s not the same as being there, but you can get a glimpse of the readings and sermon below.  Let us know if you’d like to have a guest preach or teach in your congregation (sermons, education hours workshops).  We’ll help figure out what would be your best fit, and we’ll help make it happen.  Reach Cricket at 814-876-2597.

First reading  from “My First Summer in the Sierra” – John Muir – 1911

 image source
image source

The snow on the high mountains is melting fast, and the streams are singing bankfull, swaying softly through the level meadows and bogs, quivering with sun-spangles, swirling in pot-holes, resting in deep pools, leaping, shouting in wild, exulting energy over rough boulder dams, joyful, beautiful in all their forms.

No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons. This quick, inevitable interest attaching to everything seems marvelous until the hand of God becomes visible; then it seems reasonable that what Continue reading Embracing discomfort, choosing action.

We are capable of attention.

crocuses captured this week by PA IPL member Amy Ward Brimmer
crocuses captured this week by PA IPL member Amy Ward Brimmer

This poem crossed my desk as a forward of a forward.  It offers hope in beauty, in nature, in growth, which persist through the ugliness on which we sometimes dwell.  It seemed right for the first day of Spring when it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the miracle of growth and creation.   You can find more of Rebecca Baggett’s work here.  This poem was originally published in Women’s Uncommon Prayers.

Testimony
(for my daughters)

I want to tell you
that the world is still beautiful. Continue reading We are capable of attention.

MLK, Climate, and Tu B’Shvat

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.  When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”    transcript and audio

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated: we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”   transcript

Which environmental leader wrote these quotes?  Who had these ecologically-based insights?  Well, I guess the title of this post gives it away, but without that hint (or the picture below!), would you have known it was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

image source
image source

King died 2 years before the first Earth Day and many years before the Environmental Justice movement was born, but his ideas about community, connectedness, and justice continue to influence those committed to a more just and sustainable future.  As wecelebrate his birth (and mark Tu B’shvat — more on that in a moment) I thought a brief exploration of our debt to King, as well as a look at what he might call us to do today was in order.

It would not have surprised King either that climate change is both disproportionately caused by wealthy and powerful nations, or that world’s poorest and most vulnerable are likely to suffer the most.  He knew that when profits come before people, the powerful prosper and the poor pay the price.

In our energy exploitation society, this dynamic is repeated over and over: in poor Continue reading MLK, Climate, and Tu B’Shvat