More and more American Christians embrace science as essential to protecting God’s creation. Read more to see how, in the timely marriage of climate science and Biblical insights shared by oceanographer and Episcopal bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori this fall in a nearby retreat.
“Justice is the fruit of examined living: loving our neighbors as ourselves,” Bishop Katharine told a capacity crowd Sept. 29 at the Transfiguration Spirituality Center in Glendale, Ohio. She spent the next two days helping us weave the Bible and science together to give us strength and tools to stop abusing the planet.
Katherine, who served as the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop from 2006 to 2015, showed us how to combine spiritual discipline and scientific research to heal our relationship to all creatures on this planet, from fellow humans to the tumult of water and wind. “I think it’s an act of spiritual maturing to consider the impact of our actions on those far away, spatially or generationally,” she said. “We need humility, the ability to learn in community, and to admit when we are wrong.”
She began by opening up discoveries of right relationship between humans and earth revealed in the Bible’s multiple stories of creation and restoration of creation, citing texts in Genesis, Leviticus 25:1-12, psalms, the Jews’ return home from exile in Isaiah 40-55, and Gospel accounts of the Baptism of Jesus and bringing Lazarus back to life. Katharine revealed Biblical understandings of Creation as home, household, a community of creatures.
She then took us on an astounding time trip through hundreds of millions of years of life on this planet until the emergence of Homo sapiens a scant 200,000 years ago, culminating in a terrifying 2017 global warming projection just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Yangyang Xu and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, which shows the dire urgency of the choices we must make now on carbon emissions.
Katharine then offered spiritual disciplines for us to apply, to discern the actions needed to reconcile creation on earth to humankind – especially those of us in societies whose consumption contributes most heavily to carbon emissions.
She started with lament: “hear the cries in the wilderness: ” extreme weather, drought, flood, hunger, and crop loss. Next came truth-telling and confession: understanding earth as the Body of God, considering the health of the whole, and disciplining ourselves to act on the basis of the impact of how we live on seven generations (Genesis 2). Finally: amendment of life: “gratitude beats greed,” she said. “Connection heals excessive individualism.” Katharine called us to amend the way we use food, fuel, energy, and transportation. “The local and global are intertwined economically, ecologically, and spiritually.”
Katharine offered us tools from both science and theology: Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, outlining the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions, William P. Brown’s, The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder, and Sallie McFague’s The Body of God: An Ecological Theology.
Then she called on each of us to act!