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Keeping Earth: Religious and Scientific Perspectives on the Environment

From the time of the first humans assessing where they were and who created them and their world, there has been an understanding that the Universe was created by the hand of a magnificent Creator.  Unfortunately, in centuries since then, religious meaning has focused on issues of the human person​ and not the human in the context of all Creation.  This has been to the detriment of the natural world and an impediment to the development​ of ways of living that acknowledge the interconnection and interdependence of all Creation.

A rift between those of faith and those of science arose. It didn’t seem possible to be a scientist and a person of great faith.  However, we now understand that our knowledge of a 13 billion year old​ expanding universe feeds both the scientist and the person of deep faith.  Slowly, but surely it is dawning on us that perhaps we have made our God too small.  ​Is the limitless God nudging us to awareness that perhaps we have made God in our own image and missed the incomprehensible majesty and mystery of God whose life abounds in us and around us to a depth of connection we can never imagine?  Awe and gratitude seem the only response– the only prayer –we can offer.​

We now know that it is possible to destroy our home on our small blue planet turning in the vast universe through lack of appreciation, careless behaviors,​or even greed. ‘In the beginning …’ as described in Genesis, we are told clearly in the original Hebrew Scripture language to ‘keep the earth.’ Native peoples all understood this basic relationship of humans to the Divine through their lived experiences of the natural world.  From the first words of Scripture to the current understandings of science, we, as persons of faith, believe that all life comes from the breath of the Divine and delineated for us through scientific understandings in recent times.​  I grew up knowing about our Milky Way.  Now we know that there may be millions of Milky Ways with trillions of stars like our sun.  What will we know next about the power and grandeur of the Created world?  ​

In our day, religious leaders of nearly every denomination are reminding us that ‘earth keeping’ is a fundamental moral issue. Fortunately, we are waking up. Through the words of scientists, religious leaders and ordinary people, we are coming to know our home in a new way and are developing a willingness to change our minds and to take actions on behalf all life.

Join Sister Ann Sullivan, SP and Lorrie Heber, director of White Violet Center for Eco-Justice on Saturday, Sept. 16 for a one-day workshop, “Keeping Earth: Religious and Scientific Perspectives on the Environment.” Examine the reality of the degradation of the planet; the moral imperative to take action; and the power of informed individuals to create change. For more information click here.

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Sister Ann Sullivan

Sister Ann has been a Sister of Providence since 1964. Her main ministry through those years has been teaching, grades one through graduate level. She presently teaches theology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She has also ministered as director of a mental health center. In her free time you will find Sister Ann enjoying nature in as many ways as possible, especially working in a large perennial and a small vegetable garden. She also values time with family and friends.

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  1. Donna Butler on September 8, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Ann, thank you for these words. At a time of such catastrophic Earth events it is a wake-up call to our responsibility in this relationship with planet Earth.

    At the same time it is comforting to immerse ourselves in the mystery, diversity and beauty of the universe given to us by our Creator.

    I plan to come to the program on Saturday, the 16th. See you there!

  2. Marsha Speth on September 8, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Well said, Ann! Thank you!

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