by: Huma Munir on May 16th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
"Astronomy teaches us humility and compassion," writes Huma Munir. "Of all human virtues, humility is probably the most beautiful and important."
In 1990, spacecraft Voyager 1 took one last photo of the Earth from 6 billion kilometers away before drifting further into outer space. The Earth stood out no more than a tiny dot against the vast expanse of darkness in the space.
Inspired by the photo, famous astrophysicist and atheist, Carl Sagan, wrote a book titled Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. In it, he said studying astronomy can be a humbling and a character-building experience. Though Sagan did not believe in a higher power, his work has greatly inspired me to connect with God, and has led me on a journey of self-reformation.
In many senses, and contrary to popular belief, astronomy is helpful to religious believers.
Firstly, it teaches us that the world is limitless.
by: Robyn Purchia on May 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Helping the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized is a central tenet in the Christian gospel. The command to care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) has inspired organizations like Christian Aid to help the poor, Habitat for Humanity to provide shelter for the vulnerable, and World Vision to support children in need. And, in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains, the gospel has fueled a novel, new energy program that cares for the least of these while caring for Creation.
by: Aisha Abdelhamid on May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
With the official launch of its “Islam is Green” climate action campaign, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) also inaugurated its official website to help Muslims learn more about climate change. The iERA activities were timed to coincide with London’s “Time to Act Climate Change” march, as well, and resulted in huge support from the general public in London, England.
Events on the day of the climate action march included a lecture at a local community center provided by iERA volunteers on the Islamic perspective of caring for the environment. Afterwards, iERA members joined a group of over 5,000 assembled in central London expressing concern about mitigating global warming and requesting global climate action.
Handing out flyers to the public during the “Time to Act Climate Change” march, iERA members reported “overwhelmingly positive” response. The flyers presented information expressing the seriousness with which Muslims regard caring for the Earth, and preserving natural resources. This supportive stance on climate action surprised many demonstrators, initiating discussions and eliciting interest in learning more.
The “Islam is Green” Climate Action Campaign
The “Islam is Green” climate action campaign is centered around the Muslim understanding that humans have been given the role of caretaker of the Earth. We must protect it and maintain it, just as we would our own garden with blossoming fruit trees and vegetable plants. As Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, taught:
“If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him.”
[the Prophet Muhammad]
by: Jeff Vogel on May 9th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
Oil and finance executives will hide the truth about their products for as long as we let them. These religious extremists worship the false idol of money. Above, a flare at an ExxonMobil oil refinery. Credit: CreativeCommons / Kristian Dela Cour.
We live in an age of terrifying high-definition spectacles, with beheadings and massacres some of the horrors that fill us all with fear and dread.
These gruesome spectacles have profound side effects on our perspective. They obscure the brutality and terror caused by our bombs and drones and they distract our attention from those predators who cause suffering on a far grander scale than any jihadists.
These grander predators wear power suits. They run our largest banks and corporations. They run them recklessly. The financial industry frauds that nearly collapsed the world’s economy left behind, according to the best estimates, at least 5,000 suicides, to say nothing of the millions of people who lost their jobs and homes. We have auto industry execs who value profit over safety, defense contractors who pound the drums for military engagement, private prison company chiefs who lobby to keep their cells full.
I consider all these power suits religious extremists. They worship money.
by: Robyn Purchia on May 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Walls made out of straw? A solar victory overcoal? These aren’t lofty environmental dreams or fantasies of the Big Bad Wolf. These are just some of the ways Interfaith Power & Light’s (IPL) Cool Congregations Challenge winners take action to respond to the threat of climate change.
“It’s very inspiring to see so many congregations stepping up in response to climate change, especially this year as global leaders prepare to meet in Paris to discuss the reduction of global carbon pollution and the climate crisis,” said Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, founder and president of IPL. “IPL’s Cool Congregations are leaders. They’re not waiting until 2030 or 2050 to make a difference — they’re showing us that cutting emissions by 50% or more is not only possible now, but many have even gone carbon neutral.”
Having Fun With Sustainability
The Eco Center at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, Arkansas is an excellent example of the myriad of energy-saving techniques that are possible now, a 5,300 square-foot green building out of straw, paper mache, beer bottles, old conveyor belts, and rocks.
by: Tikkun on April 30th, 2015 | Comments Off
Content from our print issue is usually only available to subscribers, but right now we’re offering free access (for a limited time only!) to one article from our current issue on The Place of Hope in An Age of Climate Disaster. Click here to read the article, “Hope Requires Fighting the Hope Industry.”
If you are already a subscriber, please share this article with your friends! And if you have not yet subscribed, we invite you to check out this critical and engaging article to see what you are missing.
Though hope is critical to any political or social activism, big energy, along with Republican climate change-deniers have created an illusory hope industry founded on American Exceptionalism. We cannot throw our hands up and leave the health of the planet (and humanity) to be secured by technology, capitalism, or future generations, writes Charles Derber. This piece offers real resistance to the hope industry based on diffuse justice movements’ shared goal of systemic transformation. Read his article now to learn how activists are joining together for unified environmental change.
by: Reid Madden on April 27th, 2015 | Comments Off
“Why is ‘Social Justice’ a toxic phrase in common conversation?”
My roommate recently showed me something online, but what he said got me thinking. He told me “social justice warriors probably hate this.”
What does that phrase even mean, “social justice warriors?” I decided to look up what it meant on Urban Dictionary – admittedly not the best source for information, but this is what I found: “A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow and not well-thought-out way.” These people do not “necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of.” They do it to be popular.
So how do these people make social justice look bad? After all, protesters all over the world use the Internet to organize and rally support. Social media was a huge force in the Arab Spring protests that eventually toppled regimes. Using these networks at home has created huge firestorms around net neutrality, which recently forced the FCC to adopt net neutral protocols. Using mass media has always been in the toolbox for enacting social reforms. Social reformers like Martin Luther King Jr. are regarded as heroes. Universities from Miami University to Merrimack College to my own, Hamline University, offer majors in Social Justice, training the next generation of reformers.
by: Claire Curran on April 25th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
People of faith aren’t just waking up to the climate crisis, they’re leading the way. Across the country, people are bringing the wisdom of their faith traditions to their work on climate change because they know they’re better together. They know its not just about individual faith communities lowering their carbon footprints, its about collaborating around shared values, and building the world they know is possible in practical and systematic ways. Check out these five inspiring stories and then consider how you can be Better Together.
1. Standing Up for Socially just Solar
People of faith in Minneapolis were excited about promoting solar in their faith communities, but as they started to look at the details, it became clear that community solar gardens were not going to be accessible to low income communities. A team of solar developers, contractors, faith leaders, business owners, and college students, representing diverse faith traditions came together design a community solar garden that is accessible to all.
It’s time to sweep aside all the illusions:
*That the national environmental organizations have a secret plan to save the environment but just haven’t told us yet
*That local acts of environmental sanity in a few dozen urban areas will make a dent on the global degradation of the life-support-system of the planet
*That “new technologies” will solve the problem
*That individual acts of recycling and “conscious consumerism” will change what is being produced
*That good guy corporate leaders will eventually turn around the massive impact that global corporations have been having in undermining Nature’s balance
*That political sanity will prevail if only we get a new president (remember when you thought that about Obama? Are you now thinking it will happen with Hillary?)
Illusion after illusion after illusion.
We are up against a global economic and political system that has only gotten worse and worse over the course of the 45 years since Earth Day 1970. Consciousness has grown, small battles have been won, and the people who worked so hard on both fronts deserve our commendation. But don’t deceive yourself: the situation of the planet has gotten worse and worse, and it will continue to do so until we have a movement capable of fundamentally changing our economic and political system.
by: Jeffrey Vogel on April 21st, 2015 | Comments Off
All living things, large, small, and in between, share in the precious gift of life on Earth. However, it is only we humans, with our large brains enabling us to be self consciously aware of this gift, that are the only creatures to celebrate Earth Day. As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day let us remember that this grand unifying perspective was made possible by one of our nation’s greatest gifts to the world, the first stunning photo of Earth from outer space taken during the Apollo moon missions. This awesome image of our beautifully round whole Earth, suspended in the vast blackness of space, is humanity’s crowning achievement on our long and frequently tortured path in trying to make some sense of our often overwhelming self-conscious existence; the climax of the long collective urge of humanity to explore our surroundings. This new perspective of the Earth takes our self consciousness to a whole new dimension enabling us to feel part of a much greater self — the whole Earth.
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
As supremely self conscious beings, humans are acutely aware of their mortality and therefore face the question: Why am I here? Human history has been largely determined by humanity’s attempts to answer this crucial question. To find an answer we look for symbols to identify with, to give us a sense of connection and belonging. These symbols range from family to tribe, from nationality to religion, from political party to ethnicity, from wealth to power, from designer clothes to team loyalty. But these identifications and affiliations often devolve into intolerance, violence and warfare as the various groupings strive for supremacy.