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In a time of environmental crisis, how is the Holy Spirit present and at work in the world and how is it calling and empowering us to action?
Those are some of the questions that were explored with the help of Mark Wallace, a theologian who connects Christian faith to the environmental crisis, during St. Andrew’s College’s Winter Refresher 2015 held March 5-7.
Wallace, a professor of Religion and Interpretation Theory Coordinator at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, places a focus is on the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of life, enlivening all creation and wounded by environmental degradation. His thought and writings are grounded in his Pennsylvania location, yet he is widely connected through his academic work and activism and combines theoretical depth and breadth with a remarkable personal openness.
A much-published author who is frequently in demand as a speaker, Wallace will guide discussion on the event theme -- The Holy Spirit and the Environmental Crisis.
In some ways the environmental crisis needs no introduction, as it must be part of our consciousness, informing all our decisions. But the environmental crisis is not static; it is complex and ever changing, requiring regular revisiting with informed analysis and commentary to keep us abreast of developments and offer insights.
The Holy Spirit is much the same. In some ways it needs no introduction but one never knows all there is to know about the Holy Spirit and it is particularly important at this time to revisit it in relation to the environmental crisis.
Wallace, the author of Green Christianity: Five Ways to a Sustainable Future, says his research and writing is an exercise in the emerging field of religion and ecology, a field he views as a “promising new line of inquiry in religious studies.”
“This innovative sub-discipline focuses on how different religious traditions have shaped human beings' fundamental outlook on the environment in ancient and modern times. The world's religions ask basic questions about the cosmos that share deep affinities with the science of ecology,” says Wallace’s biography on the Swathmore College website.
“Both thought systems — religion and ecology — are concerned with the place of human beings within the general order of things. Noting this affinity between religion and ecology, the intellectual wager of this discipline is that the often unknown wellsprings of human beings' perspectives on the environment must be tapped if we are to understand adequately how individuals and societies have conceived of their place in the natural world.”