At this moment in history there are many arenas of unnecessary suffering and injustice that call for the focused attention of Christian contemplatives. Increasingly, we live in a culture that is polarized politically and economically. Too many of us live by the code of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” We live in simplified, self-centered versions of the greater reality. On a planetary level, we increasingly face the wreckage of our regular seasons in this era of catastrophic global climate change. If we destroy life on our planet home, we have destroyed the context for all arenas of community-building and justice-making.
Most of us who are drawn to the sort of Christian meditation and prayer that we follow at the Empty Bell are examining our lifestyles for ways to simplify our lives by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Many of us are contributing to environmental organizations that have “boots on the ground” in the forests, wetlands, rivers, mountains, plains and oceans–and in the courts–trying to save and heal our irreplaceable inter-connected natural environment. We consciously connect our contemplative efforts in the direction of personal, familial, communal, political, and environmental transformation.
One Empty Bell member is Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an Episcopal priest whose Bishop, Doug Fisher, has hired her to work full-time on climate change issues. Margaret is Missioner for Creation Care for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and for the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. She is also Creation Care Advisor for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Please check out her website at: www.revivingcreation.org
Dr. Jonas channels most of his environmental work through non-profit organizations known as land trusts. In western Massachusetts he supports several land trusts as they seek to stop unnecessary and environmentally destructive industrial and home-building initiatives. He is an emeritus Board Chair of the Kestrel Land Trust, and has produced a video glimpse of the beautiful Pioneer Valley that local citizens work to preserve. Videography and shakuhachi by Jonas, accompanied by James Russell Smith on marimba:
In our worldwide Christian community, we applaud all those who are motivated to meet the challenges of global climate change from a heart that seeks, serves and loves Christ in all things. It is our faith that all creation has been birthed from nothing through Christ (John’s Prologue) and that we accept the the Creator’s charge, that we humans take responsibility to wisely steward the fragile web of life on this planet. So far, we Christians have not done a good job of acting in concert with our faith and our Christian responsibilities.
In this spirit, we post this fine article from the Christian Century Magazine by one of our favorite Christian environmental heroes–Bill McKibben. We need to both get the word out about the facts of global warming, while simultaneously articulating the deep spiritual sources of our actions for environmental healing and environmental justice:
Many non-Buddhists–and some Buddhists–have criticized those who practice Buddhist meditation as way to escape their relationships, their work or their social and political responsibilities. Some others–misinterpreting the Buddhist teachings of non-self and emptiness– have said that meditation is nihilistic or narcissistic. We believe that these criticisms, especially when they come from people with no actual experience of Buddhist meditation, are not only mistaken: they are dangerous. They are the kind of stereotypes that can lead to inter-religious violence. Still, we should consider the possibility that certain kinds of Buddhist practices can be deflected from their wholeness and beauty by immature teachers or by people in certain cultures.
We highly recommend the teachings of Buddhist teacher, David Loy, at www.davidloy.org And also this community, One Earth Sangha, at: oneearthsangha.org