Sticking the Poor with Climate Change: People, Power, and Privilege

disaster-responseAs I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen table while my ten-year old, home from school today with a fever, watches a movie upstairs. It is a bright, beautiful fall day in Austin, Texas—and part of me wants to turn off my computer and my cell phone, make a pot of soup, and sit on the couch under the covers with my son. Maybe I’ll do those things later.

Now, though, I’m watching my news feed for more stories about last week’s floods in Southeast Austin, receiving texts from a friend who is speaking today at the EPA Listening Session in Dallas about carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, and thinking about the role of faith communities in climate preparedness. It’s been a busy couple of travel-filled months for me, and some of the stories I’ve heard from people are swirling about in my head.  Continue reading

Craving a Craving: Global Warming as a Spiritual Crisis

cactus-trail21Some of the trails in the preserve behind our house are clear and distinct, but others end in a tangle of yaupon and cedar, or suddenly open to a clearing with no obvious way forward. One day, my oldest son led the way as we walked along what seemed like a clear path… but then the path disappeared. My son kept walking. “Zeke,” I called, “I don’t think this is a trail.” He kept going. “Zeke,” I called again. He turned around. “Mom, this really is a trail,” he said, matter-of-factly. “It’s just all covered up by cactus and weeds.”  Continue reading

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