Tag Archives: ecological crisis

Article: “O Sweet Cautery”: John of the Cross and the Healing of the Natural World, by Mary Frohlich

In her article for Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society (v. 43, n. 2, Dec. 2016, pp. 308-331), Mary Frohlich  argues for the value of the great 16th century Spanish mystic’s spirituality in meeting today’s ecological challenges. In the article’s abstract, Mary writes

Contrary to what may appear in a superficial understanding of his spirituality, John of the Cross strongly affirms the goodness of creation and its capacity to mediate the presence of God. He specifically identifies the web of mutual interactions among creatures as a primary manifestation of divine love, and he affirms that the more a person participates in God, the more he or she participates fully and joyfully in this community of creatures. Activation of creation’s full capacity to mediate divinity, however, depends on the full fruition of the human person in God. Experientially, this involves a lengthy process of a back-and-forth rhythm between the glimpse of God in creation and the complete renunciation of dependence on creaturely knowledge in favor of faith. John’s writings invite us to participate in the healing of the natural world by pursuing this contemplative rhythm all the way to its fruitional climax.

Essay: Rewilding Christian Spirituality: Outdoor Sacraments and the Life of the World, by Lisa E. Dahill

Lisa Dahill contributed this essay to the collection she co-edited with Jim B. Martin-Schramm, Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016; pp. 177-196). In it, she addresses the problem of “the disconnection between much of contemporary human life from the living reality of the natural world.” In an early paragraph, she describes the goal of her essay:

This essay is my response to . . . the cries from all over Earth of those already suffering the effects of climate change and global economic injustice, and the great call echoing from the planetary systems necessary for the flourishing of life as we know it. How does Christian spirituality creatively cherish and respond to the new “Eaarth” we inhabit, the new geological age we have entered? Here I outline a Christian spirituality of biocentric sacramental reimmersion into reality: “rewilding” Christian spiritual practice for the Anthropocene. To summarize at the outset: I believe that Christian ecological conversion requires new and re-prioritized physical, spiritual, and intellectual immersion in the natural world. Thus I will argue for restoration of the early church’s practice of baptizing in local waters, for new forms of outdoor Eucharistic life, and for reclaiming primary attention to the Book of Nature alongside our attention to the Book of Scripture.

Note: Lisa’s use of the term “Eaarth” is based on Bill McKibben’s book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2011).

Book: Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril, edited by Lisa E. Dahill and Jim B. Martin-Schramm

Former SSCS President Lisa Dahill has co-edited Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016), a book of essays by sixteen Lutherans writing about climate crisis. Taking next year’s 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting his 95 theses as their cue, the essayists explore the theme of a new theological reformation which addresses the ecological challenges facing the world today. Here is the publisher’s blurb:

In 2017 Christians around the world will mark the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. In the midst of many appeals for reformation today, a growing number of theologians, scholars, and activists around the world believe Reformation celebrations in 2017 and beyond need to focus now on the urgent need for an Eco-Reformation. The rise of industrial, fossil fuel-driven capitalism and the explosive growth in human population endanger the fundamental planetary life-support systems on which life as we know it has evolved. The collective impact of human production, consumption, and reproduction is undermining the ecological systems that support human life on Earth. If human beings do not reform their relationship with God’s creation, unspeakable suffering will befall many–especially the weakest and most vulnerable among all species.

The conviction at the heart of this collection of essays is that a gospel call for ecological justice belongs at the heart of the five hundredth anniversary observance of the Reformation in 2017 and as a–if not the–central dimension of Christian conversion, faith, and practice into the foreseeable future. Like Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, this volume brings together critical biblical, pastoral, theological, historical, and ethical perspectives that constructively advance the vision of a socially and ecologically flourishing Earth.