Eco-Justice and hunger

Hi all-


Follow this link to learn about a fast for tomorrow.

The focus of the fast is on protecting programs for the hungry.

We have recently talked about our own needs to reinvigorate our commitment to the Food Connection. Will a fast help you with your resolution? How might you spread the word that the Food Connection and our neighbors need our support? What other ways might you be called to advocate for this aspect of eco-justice?

See you in the morning-


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Love your (other) Mother

Looking back over our classes from Mother’s Days past, it is clear that this is a holiday that many of us have struggled with.  That is to say, the typical Hallmark card doesn’t capture all of what this day dredges up.  Motherhood is complicated and fraught with danger, misunderstanding and suffering – we are not going there again this year!!

So, in keeping with our last few weeks’ topic, let’s send the mothers in our lives the very best wishes we can muster, then delve into our other mother…Mother Nature, Mother Earth, source of our material sustenance and needs for life.  Think about it, when you trace every one of your necessities back to their origins, you will find dear old mother earth at the end of the chain.  We take, we expect, we demand.  We’ve earned it!  We can afford it!  We need it for our convenience!  our security!  our lifestyle!  Our image!

If we are the children of the earth, and we are sometimes difficult offspring at best, what is the card we should send our Mother?  What do you think she needs to hear? What do we need to say?  What, in the end, does she want from us?  What, as Christians charged with stewardship of the earth, do we owe her?

Come ready to share where you find wonder in the natural world – that should be a start for how we can show real appreciation for Mother Earth.

See you tomorrow!


PS  Here’s a version of Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree, read aloud.  I think this fits.



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Assignment – you asked for it!

Here are some resources to look up – pick 1-3 of these that speak to you and really take some time to read into the website.  Come ready to report next week, including some answer to the following:

  1. What surprised me about this organization/website/initiative.
  2. To what extent is my practice of environmentally friendly behaviors connected to my understanding of my calling as a Christian?
  3. What does reading this call me to do next??

Feel free to email or comment this week so we can all learn from your explorations!  John

I.     Interfaith Power & Light

The mission of Interfaith Power & Light is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.  This is a clearinghouse for other initiatives, like Cool Congregations, The Regeneration Project, and others (See below)

II.   Cool Congregations

III.  Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light

Mission Statement: The mission of the Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light is to spiritually respond to the challenges of the climate crisis through upholding the sacredness of all life, protecting vulnerable communities, and caring for the Earth. We manifest our spiritual values by reducing our carbon footprint within our daily lives, releasing the spiritual power of our faith communities, and advocating for transformative climate protection and justice policies

IV.  Eco-Justice Ministries -“The well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth”

Make sure to look over their theological affirmations under the ‘About Us’ tab.  Can you also affirm this?

V.  Environmental Protection Agency – Environmental Justice

We may need Kit’s help navigating to the section with the mapper she described.  I had a hard time finding anything like that.

VI.  Green Faith

GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.  Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.

There are three core values that guide the work that we do, and define us as an organization: Spirit, Stewardship, Justice

VII.  Environmental Justice/Environmental Racism

VIII.  ECO – Presbyterian



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Dig in! to Eco-justice…

We believe that caring for creation must undergird, and be entwined with, all other dimensions of our churches’ ministries. We are convinced that it is no longer acceptable to claim to be ‘church’ while continuing to perpetuate, or even permit, the abuse of Earth as God’s creation.”
— God’s Earth is Sacred: an open letter to church and society, National Council of Churches, 2005

Last week, Kit led us into the world of the national Episcopal Church’s Jesus Movement, which has three pillars, outlined on their web page – see table.

The third pillar, Creation Care, calls us to encounter and honor the face of God in creation.  Below that, there are 4 bullets

  • Develop creation care resources
  • Grow local eco-ministries
  • Pursue eco-justice at church-wide and local levels
  • Convene conversations around climate and faith

I think just in bringing this up last week, we began a conversation around climate (or at least the environment) and faith.  Now we delve further.

I hesitate to create resources when they may already have been created, so I began looking.  No surprise, there are a lot out there already.  Our assignment next week will be to look up some of these national and state level resources to learn the field and see what part of this we’d like to take on.

But here’s a succinct definition of eco-justice – “the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth”

And here’s a short video to further explain environmental justice in terms of race and socio-economic status.

Finally, a passage from Eco-Justice Ethics, by Dieter T. Hessell:

Norms of Eco-Justice Ethics
The basic norms of eco-justice ethics can be summarized as follows:

  • solidarity with other people and creatures – companions, victims, and allies – in earth community, reflecting deep respect for diverse creation;
  • ecological sustainability – environmentally fitting habits of living and working that enable life to flourish, and utilize ecologically and socially appropriate technology;
  • sufficiency as a standard of organized sharing, which requires basic floors and definite ceilings for equitable or “fair” consumption;
  • socially just participation in decisions about how to obtain sustenance and to manage community life for the good in common and the good of the commons.

So here are our questions to ponder this week based on these norms.

What does solidarity with other people and creatures look like?  How would we know we’re there?

What are indicators that life is flourishing in our communities?

What do you think about sufficiency as a standard to help us understand ‘fair’ consumption?

Lots to chew on here.  Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!







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We’re on!

I’ll be there after all – looking forward to it…we may go a little short if anyone’s interested in hot cross buns in the great hall at 9:45.

See you in a few!


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Hold that thought

This is Michele — John and Kit may not be at Refocus tomorrow.  We can still meet in the library and do our best!  Also, there will be hot cross buns in the Great Hall for Palm Sunday.

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Poem Sunday

The American poet Emily Dickinson, though shrinking from offering a definition of poetry, once confided in a letter, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

One poet called a poem “a thought, caught in the act of dawning.” Another said a poem is a means of bringing the wind in the grasses into the house. Yet another stated, even more enigmatically: “Poetry is a pheasant disappearing in the brush.” (from National Endowment for the Arts website)

Poetry can elicit very difficult subject matter, and draw a direct connection to the reader.  “Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.”  That was how Marianne Moore captured it in an early draft of her poem, “Poetry”.   Poems often draw us into complex concepts through a side door; suddenly, we realize where we are, but aren’t sure how we got there, and have the sensation that we are the first ones ever to do so!  In the end, my favorite poems are short and seemingly simple, but leave us thinking harder, feeling more deeply, and asking harder questions that we did before.

Okay, here’s a different perspective on this Sunday before Easter, kicking off Holy Week.  I find Christianity to be both impossibly difficult (e.g. doctrine of the Trinity), and sometimes starkly simple (e.g. feed the hungry).   To me there is an element of poetry here, and maybe poetry is just what we need to delve into our faith in this holiest of weeks before the resurrection.    We’ll see.

Here are three poems written about Palm Sunday.


Palm Sunday

The smell of church reminds me of my childhood

but over the years, the priest becomes a foolish man.                                                I’ve pondered over my faith for so long.

Sometimes I reach into my conscious and pull out steaming fistfuls of pop         culture         like,                                                                                                                                                            I watched Rosemary’s Baby on Saturday. Was God dead in the 50s?

Not nearly as much as he is now.

Today was Palm Sunday, and I felt like a baby, so naked in the desert sand.

Delicate church, how do you reel me in?

Kyra Rae, Apr 17, 2011

Palm Frond

Holy Monday

walking with

my dog in

the burbs

I spied

a palm frond

laying by

the curb

still moist

and pliant

fresh to




discarded this

icon beloved

so much?

one day






does the

heathen who

disposed of it

know this




it was then

I recalled

its reason

for being

its a carpet

for a King’s


its not for


so there

it lay


it should


as my

dog and I


our closer

walk with


James Bradley McCallum, Mar 22, 2013

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

G. K. Chesterton, 1927

After you have read these a few times, see if you feel tugged by something written…Read that part again.  Come this week with those lines in mind, and we’ll take the discussion from there.  And then we will take time to consider how we will wrap up this Lenten season, to ready ourselves for Easter.  Oh, it’s not too late.

See you Sunday at 9:14 in the Library.  Stay warm.


PS don’t forget church clean up – we need your help!  Saturday morning from 9-12.  Bring gloves, gardening tools, and layers.  There will be a light lunch following, thanks to our very own Sheila Franklin!

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