The homepage for the Church of the Woods website offers a compelling combination of warm invitation and radical manifesto. On the hand, it is a church that expressly welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds who are looking to connect with God. On the other hand, this is a church that seeks to provide that connection in a way that intentionally diverges from “regular” church. One immediately learns that this is “a new kind of church,” an outdoor church located on “106 acres of wild woods and wetlands.” The introductory paragraph declares, “In calling our woods a church, we are deliberately trying to crack open what it means to be ‘church.’” Instead of having a building that serves as “the bearer of sacredness,” the earth itself does this. (Read more.)
Could church members meet their spiritual needs by adopting a practice that was common during the French revolution? In a new Guardian article on the rise in the United States of intimate, intellectual gatherings known as salons, a description of a salon started by Brad Canham in Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb stood out:
This past summer residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana, were told that their homes were surrounded by high levels of lead and arsenic. Their mayor then ordered that these residents relocate. On April 1, 2017, 81 West Calumet families will face forcible eviction and placement in neighborhoods in which they would never choose to live due to fears over safety.
Recently, Forbes magazine published an article that suggests the unique and powerful contribution that churches have to make in the struggle to rapidly address our climate. In an article entitled “How Gay Marriage Suggests a Strategy for Climate Change,” Jeff McMahon recounts how marriage equality seemed to be nowhere near the horizon of possibility in 2004, but then something started to happen. It became adopted state by state. Momentum gathered, and now it is the law of the land for the entire nation.
There has been an ongoing focus on race and the environment in the United States since the 1980s when United Church of Christ ministers helped give birth to the environmental justice movement and coined the use of the phrase “environmental racism.” In more recent years, environmental justice advocates have advanced some important discussions about race in relation to climate change. (Read more.)
After a hundred years of mining contaminated the Coeur d’Alene River as well as nearby lakes and lands with lead, the Environmental Protection Agency in 1983 designated 21-square-miles of Spring Valley as the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund site. The federal government was to fund the cleanup of one of the largest and most polluted places in the country. Mining had long polluted the area with lead, arsenic, cadmium, and zinc. In 2002, the site was expanded to cover all of the 1,500-square-mile Coeur d’Alene Basin that stretches across both Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. It is now the largest lead superfund site in the nation.
To this day, the lead poisoning of children remains an ongoing issue. In this interview, I spoke with Barbara Miller of the Silver Valley Community Resource Center which established a program called Children Run Better Unleaded to address this health crisis that spans decades. I wanted to learn more about SVCRC’s program as well as the situation she currently faces in seeking environmental justice. I also wanted to know if there were lessons for other parts of the country to learn in addressing lead poisoning. (Read more.)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced its intention to issue a permit for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe. This pipeline permit route jeopardizes drinking water and desecrates sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. The Army Corps also stated that they would grant the easement without completing an Environmental Impact Statement (an inclusive project evaluation process that allows for public input). Read more.
On the website of The Washington Post on January 31, Chris Mooney posted an article titled, “A new battle over politics and science could be brewing. And scientists are ready for it.” A day earlier, ProPublica posted an article about President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, with the alarming headline, “DeVos’ Code Words for Creationism Offshoot Raise Concerns About ‘Junk Science’.”
If anyone had any doubt that the current administration is at the very least skeptical of science, if not opposed to it nearly completely, these two headlines should speak a powerful truth: unless the results of scientific inquiry can be monetized immediately, or those results do not threaten the money-making industries of the oligarchy, this administration has little to no interest in continuing the scientific inquiry and exploration that has been the bedrock of American ingenuity for nearly four centuries. The two-pronged approach in evidence muzzles scientists and suspends or caps funding, particularly for government projects (or so current events indicate) while also curtailing the accuracy of science education across elementary and secondary schools, which could leave high school graduates with a substantial scientific knowledge deficit and make it harder for those educated in America to continue in the hard sciences at the college level. Our hope of reversing global climate change and all its attendant problems across the fields of science hinges on funding research, building scientifically sound industries, and teaching our children and youth well so they can continue the work for their generation and their children’s, as well. (Read more.)
This is the moment for which we have been called. How fitting that every four years, the Inauguration of the American President is surrounded by the season of Epiphany – when the truth of Gospel is revealed to the world. (Read more.)
In 2017, it’s not just space debris that threatens satellites monitoring climate change. It’s also anti-science politics.