What can YOU do to defend and heal the Earth?

Could we give our religous communities new life by sacred action to heal the life of Earth?

Although  many American religious communities have responded to some of the Trump Regime’s despotic actions, especially its attack on immigrants, religious responses to the Trump war against the Earth have been considerably weaker.

It is true that some religious communities and congregations have passed resolutions supporting action on the climate crisis, have sent some members to lobby Congress, or have encouraged their members to take part in the great People's Climate Marches of 2014 and 2017. Some have even decided to move their money out of investments in fossil fuel companies.

But only sporadically and locally have the religious communities actually refocused their most religious aspects on healing Mother Earth.

By “most religious aspects” I mean prayer forms and hymns, songs and sermons, ceremonies of festivals and life-cycle markers, learning together in sacred texts, and carrying out sacred daily life-practices.  All these could authentically echo the Biblical and Quranic affirmations of the sacred relationships between the Earth and human earthlings.

If these religious acts are well planned to move hearts, minds, and souls, taking part in them can get inside people, into their hearts and guts.  Just as when the churches of Montgomery and Birmingham Alabama took  prayer into the streets, political transformation can grow lips in prayer and song, from knees kneeling.

When we celebrate the next generation's entry into our religious lives, we need baptisms and bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies to deeply engage parents and children in protection and healing for the Earth that our children and grandchildren will live in.

We need Passover Seders and Good Friday sermons and Ramadan teachings  that will say again and again and again to every congregant that we must "turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents lest the Earth be utterly destroyed"  (The Prophet Malachi, 3: 23-24). 

 We need to translate the fast of Lent into deep reductions in the carbon burning that crucifies all life-forms.

We need to focus the fast of Ramadan on the serious spiritual action implied by  the verse of the Quran (30:41) that teaches,: “”Corruption has appeared on the land and in the sea because of what the hands of humans have wrought. This is in order that We give them a taste of the consequences of their misdeeds that perhaps they will turn to the path of right guidance."

We need to transmute the fast of Tisha B’Av from mourning the destruction of Holy Temples in Jerusalem millennia past, to mourning the destruction of our universal Temple Earth that is happening before our eyes today.  – We need to awaken to the last lines of the Book of Lamentation, “ O Wind of Change and Solace,  turn us as the winds turned sailing ships of old; turn us toward You, and we will let our sails turn us toward days as new and full of life as our days were long ago. “

We need reinterpretations of the code of kosher and halal food to say that today, energy from the Earth is a large part of our “food,” and must be consumed in an “eco-kosher,”  “eco-halal” way.

We need ministers, priests, rabbis, imams to  say it is a religious obligation for the whole congregational membership  to become a neighborhood co-op to install solar or wind energy in every household.

We need calls from the pulpit to learn from the command in Leviticus 25 to let the Earth rest in every seventh year, and to face the stark reality that if we refuse, as Leviticus 26 tells us, the result will be drought, famine, plague,  and  floods of refugees going into exile?

To awaken the yawning, sleepy giant of American religion, our religious communities must say together that our goal is to seek not bare survival in the climate crisis, but the kind of Great Transformation that Moses and Isaiah, Jesus and Muhammad, all proclaimed:  

For us, this means renewing and re-creating for all our children and grandchildren the healthy, life-sustaining climate that brought joy and abundance to many of our parents and grandparents –- and to infuse that renewed world with the eco-social justice that makes sure all our grandchildren share in the life-giving abundance.

 We especially need to address times when clusters of holy days in the most numerous religious communities come close together.   For example, during Spring 2018 and 2019, Passover and Holy Week overlap. These times are the highest religious and spiritual focus-times in American life. In 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King falls during that same sacred season.

This confluence should call forth public acts of contrition and atonement for past sins that include our greedy addiction to the scorching of our planet. 

Already The Shalom Center is gathering a multireligious team of writers, teachers, preachers, liturgists, and outreach workers to develop and disseminate sermonic, educational, and liturgical materials. 

AND --  our members and readers  do not need to wait for the team to report. You, in your own congregation or community, can begin doing this. We will send you some examples of enriched liturgies and sermons and sacred practices, and we ask you to send us whatever you come up with.

Dear {contact.first_name}, please remember --  What YOU do in this way could make a big difference to the politics of climate action.

Half a century ago, the religious communities took payer into the streets against racial oppression. They --  we! -- helped bring about a crucial step forward, against strong opposition,  in the long struggle to make American democracy real.

Today we face an even deeper crisis. Once our diverse religious and spiritual communities commit our deepest religious practices to healing our climate and renewing our sacred relationship with Earth, the will to insist on policy change will still face strong opposition—but Transformation will be far more likely.

In the next few days, I will write you three ways  to act that can begin the healing of our Earth. And of ourselves.

Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace –-  for all the human and more-than-human life forms of our Mother Earth. --  Arthur


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