Meaning vs. Hope

[During January, State of Formation entered into a collaboration with The Interfaith Observer to address the subject of meaning making. Eight contributors from various faith and ethical traditions were asked to describe what makes meaning within their practices and/or tradition.]

The forecast for name-your-environmental-crisis-here often looks bleak. People who follow environmental issues know it, and sustained justice work can be a challenge. When I meet with religious groups about things like pervasive toxic chemicals, environmental justice, or global warming, someone invariably asks, “Where do we find hope?”  Continue reading

Religious Wisdom the World Needs Now

forestThis was my first visit to the Zen Center. One of the Buddhist priests had invited me to encourage his students to engage in interfaith environmental work. I was a little nervous, but something about this group—their open spirit, perhaps, and honest questions—quickly put me at ease and helped me speak from the heart. At some point, I found myself saying, “The Buddhist tradition has beautiful teachings about how all life is interconnected, and the world desperately needs this wisdom! Please share it.”  Continue reading

The Danger of “Us v. Them” Thinking in Our Work for Social Change

wall-streetSo far, I’m a fan of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). It has swept the country like a breath of fresh air—inspiring people from all walks of life to get involved and re-claim our democracy. There’s this crazy idea floating around that our actions might be able to make a difference (gasp!), which is so refreshing, and OWS is reframing public discourse about a wide range of issues. Overall, I am happily surprised by OWS and wish it well. Today, though, I’m holding up something of a “caution” sign.  Continue reading

Asking the Right Questions: from the Keystone XL Hearings to an Occupied Wall Street

keystone-xl-occupy-wall-streetWord on the progressive street was, the Koch brothers and Big Oil were paying for busloads of people to come to the State Department hearings and speak in favor of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The fat-cat-funded union and industry folks would be there early, with signs, stacking the lines, making it difficult for those opposed to the pipeline to speak and be heard. One more example of big corporate money silencing grassroots voices.

That was the story. Whether it’s completely true or not doesn’t really matter; it got the environmental community geared up for a fight. At the hearing scheduled in Austin for Wednesday, September 28th, we wouldn’t be silenced, or bullied. The hearing would start at noon, but we’d be prepared.  Continue reading

The Keystone XL Pipeline: A Moral and Religious Issue

tar-sandsI did not travel to Washington D.C. a few weeks ago to protest the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House—and get arrested—as some of my colleagues and so many other brave Americans did. But I am planning to speak out against the pipeline at the upcoming State Department hearing to be held in Austin, Texas, on September 28th.  Continue reading

Central Texas Fires and Echoes of Jeremiah

Texas National Guard helicopters battle Bastrop blazeOver the past few days here in Austin, my prayers have included all those whose lives and homes have been affected by these unprecedented wildfires. For those fighting fires and in harm’s way, I pray for safety. For those in shelters and who have lost homes or loved ones, I pray for comfort. For all of us, I pray for strength and the healing power of community.

This morning, though, my prayer began to move in a new direction—toward praying for the land itself, for relief, for rain. Suddenly, I was struck with an awareness that came as a kind of response: The land cannot be saved, this awareness seemed to say. Some things are already set into motion. Focus instead on the people.  Continue reading

We Will Not Save What We Do Not Love

tangierLast week when I saw this article about nearly 1/3 of the Chesapeake Bay being a “dead zone” this year, it felt like someone punched me in the gut. I made some kind of audible groaning sound and reeled—as much as that’s possible while sitting in a chair at the kitchen table. For this native Texan who’s lived in the Lone Star State her whole life (except for a nine-month stint in New Orleans when I was five) to be so moved by environmental trauma in another part of the country might seem odd. I mean, there are environmental traumas happening every day all around the world. Why does this one make me want to curl into a little ball of wounded sorrow?  Continue reading