Saturday, July 30, 2011

"If we awaken..."

"We don't have to sink into despair about global warming; we can act. If we just sign a petition and forget about it, it won't help much. Urgent action must be taken at the individual and collective levels. We all have a great desire to be able to live in peace and to have environmental sustainability. What most of us don't yet have are concrete ways of making our commitment to sustainable living a reality in our daily lives. We haven't organized ourselves. We can't simply blame our governments and corporations for the chemicals that pollute our drinking water, for the violence in our neighborhoods, for the wars that destroy so many lives. It's time for each of us to wake up and take action in our own lives. ...

"We have the power to decide the destiny of our planet. If we awaken to our true situation, there will be a change in our collective consciousness. We have to do something to wake people up. We have to help the Buddha to wake up the people who are living in a dream."

--Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Bells of Mindfulness" (emphasis added)

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"What kind of person...?"

"Ethical thought going back to Aristotle has assumed that right and wrong actions ought to be judged not by the sort of results that the actions produce, but by whether the actions express the appropriate virtues. The moral person is not necessarily the one who accomplishes good, but the one who is good. So what is it to be good, to be fully human, the best example of our kind? ... In character and action, we can choose to embody love or hatred, peace or violence, humility or arrogance, courage or timidity, wisdom or stupidity, care or indifference, empathy or callousness. ...

"So a virtue ethic does not ask, Do we have oblications to future generations to avert climate catastrophe? Rather, it asks, What kind of person would put his immediate interests ahead of the interests of the multitudes to come? What kind of person could imagine that the suffering or possible extinction of other forms of life asked nothing of her? What kind of person, with the power to help in at least a small way to avert harm on a scale never before seen on Earth, would turn away from the chance--indifferent, unknowing, or self-deceptively in denial?

"To recognize oneself as part of the world, created by and creative of a rich and beautiful network of lives, is part of what it means to be fully human. The virtues that express that humanity have to do, at the very least, with compassion--an empathy that extends beyond one's own time and species--and with an equally broad-minded sense of justice. This is the strength of character of the person who will bravely, stubbornly, lovingly act in defense of a world he will never know."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010). Bold emphasis added.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"That this beauty shall remain..."

"Some people say that we live in two worlds--the world of what is and the world of what ought to be. But a full appreciation of the beauty and wonder of the world closes the gap between what is and what ought to be. If this is the way the world is--beautiful, astonishing, wondrous, awe-inspiring--then this is how we ought to act in that world--with respect, with deep caring and fierce protectiveness, and with a full sense of our obligation to the future, that this beauty shall remain."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Imagine a Sanctuary Movement..."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).

"Maybe it's time to think again about 'sanctuary.' It's not just the nave of a church; it's a place of safety. Are the sweeping lawns of your church a safe place for divine creation? Can they become a true sanctuary, bursting with birdsong and native plants, protected forever from poisons and bulldozers? And after your church becomes a true sanctuary for divine creation, what about the lands owned by parishioners? Imagine a sanctuary movement of a different sort."

"And what about this notion of 'preaching to the choir'? Every week we come together to sing God's praises. But what can we do to protect the songs of creation? Can the choir become the protectors of birdsong, the protectors of marshland rich with the calls of frogs? There are many kinds of music in the world. Is it enough to sing about them as they vanish? If those with beautiful human voices don't act to protect the voices of the birds and the frogs, who exactly will?"

"Can an omnipotent being weep? Can we even begin to imagine the ferocity of divine grief when the last varied thrush vanishes or when the last flecks of colored fish fade from a coral reef? Can there be a dishonoring of God greater than this--to disregard the love of God for the small lives [God] has shaped with [God's] hands? People of the church know how to spread the word of God. Spread this word--that the Earth is [God's] Creation and our work in the world is to keep it safe."

Monday, July 25, 2011

"No Ark for Our Fellow Creatures But Us"

From "The Feasting" by Alison Hawthorne Deming:

"For several years I have been writing about animals, looking at how important they have been as characters in the human drama from very early in our history, at how much joy and texture and mystery they bring into our lives. These too have become stories of grief, as the news gets bleaker about the animals' fate in a biologically impoverished world. Fifty percent of the world's animals are in decline. One-quarter of the world's mammals face extinction. That includes the elephant, humpback whale, gorilla, orangutan, spider monkey, cheetah, tiger, and polar bear. Imagine a world in which these creatures are merely imaginary, as the dinosaurs and woolly mammoths are to us today. Imagine the loss of wonder and excitement, the growing fear and sorrow as the continuity between human beings and others tatters. Some of the threatened ones will survive in captive breeding programs, and for this stark generosity, one must give thanks. But the world we leave to the future will be brutally impoverished. Earth's gorgeous palette is fading, and there is no ark for our fellow creatures but us."

As found in Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity State Press, 2010).

Friday, July 22, 2011

"The very idea of a bird..."

"The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life.... The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds--how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives--and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!"
--John Burroughs [1837-1921]

(Quotation as found in We Thank You, God, for These: Blessings and Prayers for Family Pets)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Excerpt: "A Look at Genesis"

This is an excerpt from our book We Thank You, God, for These: Blessings and Prayers for Family Pets. It is "A Look at Genesis" from the chapter "What Does Scripture Say?"

From the beginning of time, God had animals in mind. After the heavens and earth, the planets, and all types of vegetation were created, God set about the task of creating the waters and all the creatures who live therein, and all insects, reptiles, wild beasts, and birds. Seeing that this was good, and giving them the promise of a perpetual existence by means of God's blessing, God gave them their place as part of the eternal order of life. And in this order of things, the animals of the world were created and received their blessing before God created a single human being, an order that carries great theological importance. For though God did give dominion over the earth and its creatures to us humans, we need to take note of the created order and realize that it is sacred.

Animals are high on God's list, and so they should be for us. Time and again God demonstrates just how important are the lions, ostriches, bears, leopards, whales, dogs, and mice. When God destroyed the earth and all but eight of the human species, at least two of every other species of animal were saved by entering the ark. Noah and his family were to care for them, just as God would, gathering them in as God would and does. And before Noah's shipwrecked family stepped even one foot onto the land where they would rebuild their homes, God provided the dove with its nest, making it the first inhabitant of a new earth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Real Devotion

A thought from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

by Sogyal Rinpoche

It is essential to know what real devotion is. It is not mindless adoration; it is not an abdication of your responsibility to yourself, nor undiscriminating following of another’s personality or whim. Real devotion is an unbroken receptivity to the truth. Real devotion is rooted in an awed and reverent gratitude, but one that is lucid, grounded and intelligent.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Open Your Mind"

"Open Your Mind"

Words to ponder from Ilchi Lee

"When you open your mind, it can expand across the universe.

When you close your mind, it becomes smaller than the eye of the smallest needle."

Sunday, July 3, 2011


"There is nothing in the Now"

Words by Ilchi Lee

"There is nothing in the Now. There is neither joy nor sorrow, success nor failure. In this instant, immeasurable by the concept of time, you are capable of infinite creation."