Weekly Summary

Each week we will try to capture some thoughts on a flip chart to watch our progress over the semester.  Here are the bullet points from most recent to the beginning of the seminar.

Wednesday, April 29 – Last Class

We broke up into groups and discussed themes that emerged from the class throughout the semester.  The following is a list of themes:

  • we value different spiritual perspectives
  • how we relate to the world effects our behavior
  • speakers brought passion and energy
  • expression of spirituality, openly and with authenticity
  • intergenerational mingling of ideas
  • having a space to absorb and share
  • more clarity of interest (overlap of differences)
  • nature has a voice; soul of creation
  • speakers all spoke of stewardship
  • community interaction and connections
  • sacredness that exists in food
  • gratitude
  • we each take personal responsibility
  • “oneness” of all divinity

Wednesday, March 11 – Dr. Erin Baker

Climate Change Mitigation Presentation

Wednesday, March 4 – Rev. Margaret Bullett-Jonas

This was a wonderful discussion of the role of spirituality in climate activism.  Reverend Bullett-Jones asked us “how does our perception change when we begin to experience the natural world as sacred? How does our heart change when we begin to care not only about our own children and grandchildren, but also about future generations?”

As Missioner for Creation Care in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, Reverend Bullett-Jonas invited us to come along on a journey of transformation as we look deeply into our sources of hope and work together to build a just and sustainable future. As a wife, mother and grandmother who fell in love with the world that God made, she wants to encourage everyone who is trying to protect a planet in peril.

Wednesday, February 18 – Project Planning

This class was devoted to working on creation of class action projects.  These are described here:  ACTION PROJECTS.

Wednesday, February 11 – Daniel Greenberg

Following Daniel’s “despair and empowerment” workshop, in which he introduced us to Joanna Macy’s “milling exercise“, we shared the following thoughts:

  • I am not alone in my despair about the world
  • We can connect through the “earth mother”
  • I want a tight-knit community feeling all the time
  • Life is full of pain but we can also experience human interconnections
  • In an anthill, I can be the best possible ant I can
  • We are like caterpillars eating our home tree but there is a possibility of becoming a butterfly
  • We need space for feelings and “whole body learning”
  • Together you can change things – you are not alone
  • We need to become more human and share this with others
  • We need to build more “person to person” connections
  • Togetherness is like “going to summer camp” – lets bring it home
  • We are one and love can move us rather than fear
  • We need more space for emotional and authentic  conversations
  • Power of being seen by someone else and seeing ‘eye to eye’
  • Human eye to eye connection leads to compassion, forgiving others and ourselves
  • The world adapts in an interconnected way; there is no need to fear
  • Human connections allow us to connect our mind to our heart
  • Taking care of the earth and each other is our work
  • If I don’t make a contribution – I’m in trouble; if we all learn to connect, maybe we are in less trouble
  • Human connections allow us to feel the power of community
  • We need to really SEE each other; “I see you”
  • Community  is more than simple connections
  • Giving into despair as a community makes action possible
  • Be responsible for yourself and try to do the best to take care of others
  • Everyone has the energy – lets do it together
  • We need to connect our head and our heart and then get busy doing work with our hands

Wednesday, February 4 – Craig Nicolson

We began with a review from the previous week:

  • If God is everything…. what is there to do?
  • Your perspective (thinking) effects how you interact with the non-human natural world.
  • Gratitude, attention, and respect are needed as well as action
  • God is everything vs. duality (humans are separate)
  • Humans need to be more humble with respect to nature
  • We need to strengthen our relationship with nature
  • There are choices within major religions (Kabbalah within Judaism, Sufi within Islam, mystical Christianity)
  • We can experience “oneness” with all of creation
  • To better understand God – understand nature
  • We don’t have time to wait for minds to change
  • It makes you think to be asked about your “spiritual veggie”
  • How do people best connect with nature?

Craig then led us through an examination of our understanding of both Evangelical and Catholic religious traditions and we tried to find common ground.  In order to work with others toward environmental quality, it is necessary to try to understand where they are coming from (whether we agree with others or not).


Wednesday, January 28 – Rabbi Jacob Fine

Points presented (as interpreted by one of your facilitators):

  • What we do to the environment is influenced by how we think about our relationship with the world around us.
  • If we believe humans are separate from nature, then it makes sense to “manipulate” the non-human natural world.   If we see ourselves as part of nature, then perhaps we will interact with other beings and the abiotic world with more respect.
  • All is one.   There is nothing that is “not God.”
  • Pantheism = all things are God.
  • Panentheism = God may be found in all things.
  • What is there to do?
    • Remind yourself repeatedly “that all the world is divine”
    • Behave in such a way to suggest you believe it!

How might the way we think about our role in the world, that is our relationship to the non-human world guide our environmental activism?

  • If all is God/divine, should we even do anything at all?
  • If earth is our sister, we need to take care of her!
  • If its created and given to us, we should enjoy, be humble, appreciate!
  • We can’t avoid making choices (like to eat plants or animals).


Wednesday, January 21 – Introduction to the Class

How can religious groups foster “eco-mind”?

  • Respecting what is greater than oneself
  • Spirituality is  ore to society and the natural world
  • Return to (not reinvent) ancient wisdom
  • Vehicle for exercising ideas
  • Modeling values through diverse religious practcies
  • Increase community interaction
  • Kids play in the dirt
  • See ourselves as connected to the environment, which changes actions
  • Right relationship with economy (serving the environment)
  • Friendly playground – basis for religious experience
  • Selfishness (air conditioned underground tunnels in Texas) vs. spirituality
  • CREE Nation practices still strong but Moose have goiters
  • Sharing best practices for stewardship
  • Praying
  • Social justice – give voice to the most affected


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