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Eco-theology conversations2021-09-01T19:25:57+10:00
Fern tree reshooting after bushfire

‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God’
– the challenge of being Christians in a threatened Creation.

The ecological crisis is a clear and present danger in our times. 

Come and be part of a lively learning community where together we will engage with our theological understanding and practice of faith in response to this challenge.

Third session:  Tuesday 24th August, 7:30pm on Zoom, hosted by Tim Budge. Meeting ID: 828 7918 1795
Continuing fortnightly for 3 more sessions with follow up reading between sessions.

A reminder to read the chapter from Braiding Sweetgrass, as attached, since there will be some discussion on the chapter in the session.

Lastly, as per Kathryn’s link, you might be interested in this lovely podcast discussion from On Being between Krista Tippet and Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Resources

1. The ‘solid speech’ of God: one in … all in

Aim: To reflect together on what ‘the Spirit is saying to the churches’ (Rev 3.22) in this time of ecological crisis.

Themes:   

  • How do we try pay attention to the word of God in our life together at BUC?
  • Brief introduction to the way the Bible understands the term ‘word of God’ – Godself, Creation, prophecy, Christ, scripture, preaching, the ‘inner word’
  • Creation as the ‘solid speech’ of God: the first call of God is the call ‘to be’; the first response is to ‘be there’ – a neglected aspect of attending to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
  • If any being is a creature of God, then every being is a creature of God.

Tuesday 27th July, 7:30pm on Zoom – join here. Meeting ID: 948 6101 8161.  Passcode: 486817
Thence fortnightly for 7 sessions, with follow up reading, responses and online conversation between sessions.

Read:

Speaking Notes:  Session 1

Presentation:  Session 1

2. The shock of a ‘second opinion’: reading Job after Genesis

Aim:  To revisit the picture of Creation in God’s astonishing speech to Job (Job 38-40), and to confront the differences between this and the more familiar story in Genesis 1.

Themes:

  • How does God speak to Job in this story? – nature as the medium of God’s speech
  • The main content of God’s utterance to Job – a whirlwind tour of the grandeur and diversity of the world; all creatures great and small.
  • What are the differences between this story and the Genesis story – especially the place of humans in the order of creation?
  • Does this have implications for our attention at BUC to God’s word in our time?

Read:

Speaking Notes:  Session 2

Presentation:  Session 2

3. And they couldn’t even read Eggplant!’: learning to pray in creation

Aim:  Prayer is our response to God’s call to us: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ (Lk 11.1) But what difference does attending to God’s ‘solid speech’ in creation make to our practice of prayer at BUC?

Themes:

  • Knowing God is more a matter of prayer than assent to a creed
  • Creation is God’s ‘solid speech’. But do we hear it as we pray?
  • Ursula Le Guin has a brilliant short story about ‘therolinguistics’ – the study of the languages of animals and plants – including the literature of ‘Eggplant’! This intriguingly challenges the imaginative horizons of our prayerful communion with God
  • ‘The Words That Come Before All Else’ – The Thanksgiving Address of the Onondaga People of North America
  • Learning a practice of praying in and with creation

Read:

Speaking Notes:  Session 3

Presentation:  Session 3

4. Having a ‘temple tantrum’: resistance, grief and anger

Aim:  To share our feeling responses about the whole ‘wicked problem’ of climate change – grief (‘It’s all a sad and sorry mess!’); anger (‘I hate what’s happening to our Earth home’); helplessness (‘It’s awful, but what can I do about it?’); resistance (‘I don’t want to talk about it!’). Explore ways of turning these feelings into transformative action.

Themes:

  • Feelings and faith: Ian Ferguson’s sermon on Jesus’ ‘temple tantrum’
  • Scripture speaks of Creation as the ‘dwelling place of God’. Humans are currently desecrating this What are ourresponses?
  • ‘A rising scream’ – is Richard Flanagan’s description of his new novel, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams. A fierce and clear-eyed exploration of the world in which we now find ourselves as Australians
  • A call to conversion at BUC

Two stories to watch

5. Mother Earth: the slaughter of Tiamat and recovery of the sacred feminine

Aim:  To engage with the radical wisdom of the sacred feminine as a transformative power in a time of mortal danger to life on Earth.

Themes:

  • Critique of these sessions so far – the limitations of the metaphor ‘word’
  • The deeper shock of a ‘third opinion’ – is there a sacred feminine?
  • A lump of coal in the Halls of Power
  • The slaughter of Tiamat and the de-spiritualizing of matter
  • BUC and the sacred feminine – ‘the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings’

6. ‘Statement from the Heart’: Indigenous wisdom and the ‘call of the eternal Spirit’

Aim:  To explore what it means for us to say in our worship service:

We acknowledge and respect the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation,
the traditional custodians of this land since time immemorial.
We are learning that the land is not ours to own, but to look after;
and that if we listen, we may hear in it the calling of the eternal Spirit.

Themes:

  • The challenging shape of liturgy at BUC
  • Acknowledgement and respect: The Uluru Statement from the Heart
  • Learning from the land: Uncle Max Dulumunmun; and ‘Yuwani’ – ‘the calling of the eternal Spirit’ mediated through music
  • What does it mean ‘to look after’ the land? – the church property, garden and bioregion
  • How do we at BUC listen to the land in order that ‘we may hear in it the calling of the eternal Spirit’?

7. On singing in tune: ‘All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea’*

Aim:  To explore what it means to worship God who is named Trinity – Creator, Reconciler, Redeemer – as creatures in a threatened Creation.

Themes:

  • ‘There is a worldwide famine of adoration and we are all visibly dying in it’ (Harvey)
  • ‘Things that are in God’s heart’: Rilke and the drama of salvation
  • A child’s ‘star jump’ and the offering of the world to God
  • Thanksgiving (Eucharist) and ‘The Words That Come Before All Else’
  • Worship and Creation at BUC – are we singing in tune?

* Reginald Heber (1782-1826), From the hymn, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, verse 4.

Responses: ongoing conversation

Visit our Eco-theology Facebook Group!

Most of our responses and conversation between sessions will be on a Facebook group, open only to members of this BUC Eco-theology Conversation series. Please post there your thoughts, questions, artworks, poems, songs, etc!

Some responses may also appear below. The blog posts below are drawn from this group and from the Climate Action Group. At the end of our series, we may ask permission to “archive” some of the FB group responses here, for others to enjoy.

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