Sunday, October 16, 2016

Religion & Ecology

The dominant note for the final day of "Religion, Ecology and our Planetary Future" was gratitude. At its heart there was gratitude to the conveners, who over the last two decades have made the field of religion and ecology through conferences, publications, and, it's clear, remarkably dedicated dialogue with established and mentoring of emerging scholars. But there was a broader sense of the gratitude participants in this urgent, nascent field feel toward each other, a joy at shared purpose, effort, and achievement.

We were still in the rhythm of hope and despair which characterized the mood yesterday, gathering ourselves in a huddle before setting out again. It is too late for a lot of things. We are too few to do much. But today was about the real achievements possible if efforts are concerted. It was undergirded by a sense of solidarity with those around us, for whom and with whom we might make a difference - all the members of the vast "community of subjects" (a term from Thomas Berry, the guiding spirit of this venture), of which we humans are but a small part.

As the exhaustion of hearing forty-one talks subsides (I'm in the MegaBus on my way home, fiery autumn foliage fading into darkness along the sides of the highway as the sky ahead holds out in final pinks and pastels), I feel not just that I've gotten to know this community of scholars but that I want to join it. All sorts of issues and questions I've felt drawn toward over recent years are taken seriously here, from the Australian-led field of environmental humanities to what I've been calling "wider moral communities" to the Anthropocene. Happy discovery!

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