Temple of Understanding celebrating our 63rd Anniversary in 2023
“The Climate Emergency: Does Religion Matter?”
Dialogue with Rabbi Ellen Bernstein and Pastor Theodore Hiebert PhD.
Recorded Dec 17, 2021
Rabbi Ellen Bernstein is an eco-theologian, spiritual leader,writer and creative. She founded Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth, the first national Jewish environmental organization in 1988. Her books include Let the Earth Teach You Torah, Ecology and the Jewish Spirit, and The Splendor of Creation. Ellen also created the first ecologically-centered Tu B’Sh’vat (Jewish New Year of theTrees) seder in 1988 and popularized Tu B’Sh’vat as a community-wide inter-spiritual ecological arts celebration for all peoples. Her most recent book, The Promise of the Land, A Passover Haggadah is the first comprehensive, ecological haggadah (guidebook) for Passover (Behrman House, 2020). In 2020 during the pandemic, Ellen launched the Earth Seder movement, helping to organize several dozen world-wide Earth Seders on Zoom. Ellen continues to write and teach on the ecology of the Hebrew Bible, and serves on the advisory board of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. To learn more please visit www.ellenbernstein.org and www.thepromiseoftheland.com.
Theodore Hiebert writes about biblical perspectives on the environment and about biblical views of identity and difference. His book The Yahwist’s Landscape: Nature and Religion in Early Israel challenges claims that the Bible privileges humans and separates them from nature, and it shows how biblical religion is grounded in the natural world. He has made contributions about biblical perspectives on nature to such works as The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet, and Interpretation. He is the author of the article on Genesis for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Bible and Ecology. Ted was the lead translator of the Book of Genesis and one of the editors for the recent English translation, the Common English Bible (CEB). He wrote the notes to Genesis for the CEB Study Bible and for the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, based on the New Revised Standard Version. He is the Old Testament editor for Abingdon Press’s Covenant Bible Study. Ted also writes about biblical views of identity and difference. His book The Beginning of Difference: Discovering Identity in God’s Diverse World challenges exclusivist cultural interpretations of the book of Genesis and reveals a text that embraces and celebrates ethnic identities and differences. It contains a reinterpretation of the story of Babel as positive account of the origin of the world’s cultures. God’s Big Plan, which he co-authored with Elizabeth Caldwell, is a children’s story of Babel based on this new interpretation. Ted is currently at work on a study of the book of Genesis as migration literature. Ted is a member of the Mennonite Church and has served as pastor of the Boston Mennonite Congregation. He is a frequent lecturer and teacher in adult education programs in churches in the Chicago area. He is Francis A. McGaw Professor of Old Testament and Dean of the Faculty Emeritus at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and lives in Homewood, IL.
"Environmental Theologians Commentary on COP26" Dialogue with Catovic, Grape, Lothes.
Recorded Nov 18, 2021
Imam Saffet Abid Catovic has been a long-time US Muslim Community Organizer/Activist and Environmental Leader. He is a core member of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Climate Action Task Force and serves on their Board of Trustees as Treasurer. He is also a member of the Statewide Clergy Council of Faith in New Jersey, a Faith in Action affiliate, and also serves on their Board of Directors. Saffet is a GreenFaith Muslim Fellow and serves as their Senior Muslim advisor. He is: the Co-founder and Chair of the Green Muslims of New Jersey (GMNJ); a founding board member of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Green Initiatives; and has been recently appointed to head ISNA’s Office for Inter-faith and Community Alliances (IOICA) in Washington DC. Saffet was a consultant to the Drafting Committee of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change (2015); a founding member of the Global Muslim Climate Network (GMCN); a Co-drafter of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) “Fatwa” Religious ruling on fossil fuel divestment and currently a member of the scholars Drafting team of “Al-Mizan – Covenant for the Earth” organized under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) – Faiths for Earth and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) . Saffet has been recently appointed to the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) Executive Board. Imam Saffet Abid Catovic serves as the Muslim Chaplain at Drew University where he also received his MA in Religion and Society, specializing in Religion and the Environment and is currently working on his Doctorate of Ministry.
Rev. Henrik Grape is senior advisor on Care for Creation, Sustainability, and Climate Justice for the World Council of Churches (WCC). In this article, “Can we end our societal addiction to fossil fuels?” Rev. Henrik Grape reflects on the recently released report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Grape is a member of the WCC delegation that will attend the UN climate talks (COP26) in Glasgow. Link to article. Rev. Henrik Grape. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
Dr. Erin Lothes is a theologian at Saint Elizabeth University, Morristown, NJ., a researcher in the field of energy ethics, and a scholar of the faith-based environmental movement. Currently on leave, Erin is now Sr. Manager, Laudato Si’ Animators Program with the Laudato Si’ Movement (formerly the Global Catholic Climate Movement). Dr. Lothes is author of Inspired Sustainability: Planting Seeds for Action (Orbis 2016) and The Paradox of Christian Sacrifice: The Loss of Self, the Gift of Self (Herder and Herder, 2007). She is lead author of the co-authored“Catholic Moral Traditions and Energy Ethics for the Twenty-First Century,” Journal of Moral Theology and author of other energy ethics essays and articles on faith-based environmentalism. She is a graduate of Fordham University, Boston College, and Princeton University, and served as an Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia University.
"What the world religious leaders are doing about the climate crisis" Dialogue with Harper & McGurk
Rev. Fletcher Harper and Rev. Brian McGurk dialogue about the "Faith and Science Toward COP26" meeting convened by Pope Francis in October 2021 with 40 world religious leaders and also comment on the Interfaith program called "Faith Plans for People and the Planet" which aims at leveraging religious groups' assets and investments.
Recorded Oct 28, 2021 1-2pm ET
The Rev. Fletcher Harper is an Episcopal priest and the Executive Director of GreenFaith, a global multi-faith climate and environmental justice network. An internationally recognized author, speaker, and pioneer of the worldwide religious environmental movement, he has been a leading voice in the faith community’s response to the climate crisis for the last two decades. He has worked with diverse faith leaders around the world, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Rev. Harper is the co-founder of Shine, an international campaign that brings together bold innovators to overcome the threat of entrenched poverty and climate change, and to achieve universal access to affordable and reliable energy. He spearheads the faith-based fossil fuel divestment movement around the world, is one of the faith leaders of the People’s Climate Marches, and plays a leading role in the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, a campaign organizing religious communities to fight tropical deforestation and protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Rev. Harper is the author of GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Protect the Earth.
Rev. Brian McGurk Brian McGurk, Board Member, St. Christopher’s Church, Rectorm Chatham, MA.; Earth-Honoring Faith Committee, Member, Faith Communities Environmental Network (FCEN), Co-chair Town/District: East Orleans. I was born in Connecticut, but grew up in Barbados, West Indies — where I developed a deep and intimate relationship with the natural world. This experience (of nature’s beauty and wonder) instilled in me a reverence and respect for all members of the community of life (human, animal, plant, waters, air, soil, etc.). My present interest and commitment to environmental (eco) justice can be traced back to this early life experience. Other: After graduation from Yale Divinity School, I served in churches in Connecticut, Virginia, and Massachusetts. In Virginia, I chaired a partnership between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Anglican Diocese of Christ the King (which encompasses the township churches outside of Johannesburg, South Africa (Sharpeville, Soweto, etc.) I worked with the membership of these churches on social justice issues (of racism, poverty, environmental degradation, etc.) in both South Africa and Virginia. In this role, I was able to attend South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Orange Farm Township, and participate in discussions with Desmond Tutu and the other South African clergy and leaders. I also worked in Kenya, where our church supported a rural hospital, and maternal and child health and feeding programs. In Richmond, I served on the board of a children and youth development center, that served the most underserved neighborhood in that city. In 2010 I received a Lily endowed sabbatical grant to study the relationship between Maori spirituality and ecological practices in New Zealand. At present, I enjoy working with the 30-plus faith communities that comprise the Faith Communities Environmental Network as we work to apply our moral and spiritual voices and resources to the climate emergency.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women was held virtually in 2021. The Temple of Understanding sponsored this event which centers on the voices and experiences of Native American women. Native American women are confronting historical and contemporary violence. Addressing the toxic legacy of colonialism, fighting for eco-justice, and speaking out about health inequalities including violence are all inter-related. Speakers will discuss the impacts of violence on their lives and their activism, whether it is historic violence, violence against the Earth, or the high rates of violence and murder suffered by Native women, in the context of a widespread epidemic of femicide, sexual violence, and online violence against women. Leading youth speakers include Samantha Maltais and Kisha James. Outcomes focus on action supporting Indigenous-led initiatives.
Samantha Maltais, Aquinnah Wampanoag (#MayflowersKill Campaign Co-lead at Survival International)
Kisha James, Aquinnah Wampanoag and Lakota (National Day of Mourning Youth Organizer) Chief Clarissa Sabattis, RN, Tribal Chief at Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Houlton, Main.
Jamie Bissonette Lewey, (Moderator) Director, nkawadzowôgan: A Center for Healing and Transformation, Maine.
Co- sponsors include:
Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Reconstruccion – SERR
"The Urgency of the World Food Emergency" Interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva
Recorded Feb 12, 2021
"Regeneration, for me, is recognizing that we live by the laws of Mother Nature. We live by her generosity…Regeneration is food democracy for the soil organisms, food democracy for biodiversity, food democracy so that no one goes hungry, food democracy so that food doesn't become the biggest reason for climate disaster, and pandemic." World-renowned activist, scientist, influential author and food sovereignty advocate, Dr. Vandana Shiva, calls on citizens worldwide to protect ourselves and our planet. Shiva speaks with urgency about the social and ecological brink of extinction and the desperate need to deepen our democracies, reclaim our commons and regenerate the Earth. Vandana Shiva who trained as a quantum physicist, now addresses the intersection of science, environmental policy and social justice in her work and books. Dr. Shiva founded Navdanya in 1991, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources. She is recipient of the Right Livelihood Award for her work in placing women and ecology at the center of international development. Authoring more than 300 papers in leading scientific journals, and more than 20 books, Shiva is a powerful voice on ecological biodiversity and social justice.
Your support will impact the lives of others through low or no fee education programs, focused advocacy efforts, and the development of international Interfaith events that educate the mind, touch the heart and instigate change.