“Social and Environmental Impacts of Everyday Food Choices” in Simpler Living, Compassionate Life

To see a general overview of Simpler Living, Compassionate Life click here.

In this section (Social and Environmental Impacts of Everyday Food Choices): “The Pleasures of Eating by Wendell Berry (105-109); “The Great Hunter-Gatherer Continuum” by James T. Mulligan (110-116)

Berry begins this section by arguing that eating is an agricultural act that we, as consumers, have been disconnected from. The industrial economy has demanded higher quantities for lower cost and has left quality in product and experience behind. In this disconnection we also eat rushed food and lose not only the pleasure of eating but the pleasure of cooking.

The conclusion of this essay will be welcome for those who have been reading this work and appreciating the theoretical arguments, but wanting examples of action they can take. Berry gives seven suggestions for ways that readers can make their eating more responsible and enjoyable. Mulligan then places all the ways in which we gather food on a continuum from the most culturally normative to the most earth friendly. He argues for a move to the earth friendly side of the spectrum, buying from farmers markets and gardening, whenever possible. Both authors introduce accessible changes that readers can make to take a step away from cultural over-consumption and toward a more simple, earth friendly lifestyle.

OSU Students Impact Sustainability

Capstone students in the Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS) major have made important contributions to sustainability decision-making and program implementation in the City of Columbus and at The Ohio State University. The following links detail some of the stories of this success.

20142015: Students impacted the release, framing, and implementation of Green Memo III, the five-year strategic sustainability plan for the City of Columbus

2016: Student projects similarly helped shape priorities and implementation of OSU’s new university Sustainability Goals (video)

2017-2018: Students collaborated with Smart Columbus staff to provide analyses and strategic recommendations for the $50M Smart Cities grant won by Smart Columbus (video)

2018: Students from three capstone groups in two Engineering classes and six groups in the EEDS capstone collaborated to tackle Smart Columbus Multi-Disciplinary Projects (video)

Engineering a Smart Columbus – EEDS Capstone 2018 from Scott Spears on Vimeo.

EcoTheo Review

Image courtesy of ecotheoreview.org

In 2013, several seminary friends set out to bring ecological and faith groups together and to “create a lasting affection toward the natural world.” The EcoTheo Review publishes art on their website and through their digital quarterly. Sharing writings and art, their active website and blog continue to publish posts in between official publication of the journal.

The journal can be purchased and submissions can be made through their website. Click here to be directed to the website.

University of Dayton Divests from Fossil Fuels

Image courtesy of udayton.edu

In June 2014, the University of Dayton became the first Catholic university in the United States to announce their divestment from coal and fossil fuels. Members of the university staff see this move as part of the university’s commitment to “being a responsible steward of the Earth’s natural resources.” This decision was commended by the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Their decision was one inspired by faith reflection as well as a commitment to financial stability for the university.

Beyond divesting from coal and fossil fuels, the university has taken further steps to move their campus toward efficiency and sustainability. A signatory of the of The American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACU PCC) and a member of other sustainability committees, the university now has two full time employees who work to improve campus sustainability and offers academic programs in these areas as well.

The University of Dayton is also home to the Hanley Sustainability Institute.

Click here to be linked to The University of Dayton’s site on their efficiency and sustainability initiatives. Click here to be directed to the Hanley Institute homepage.

Podcast: Young Minds Big Questions – An Interview with Brian McLaren

Image courtesy of apple.com

Young Minds Big Questions (YMBQ) describes itself as a podcast “about challenging Christians to wrestle through doubts, fears, and questions. We talk apologetics, theology, and philosophy.”

“Climate Change and Christianity – An Interview with Brian McLaren” was released on April 26, 2017 and is part one of a two part conversation on climate change and Christianity. Guest, Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. His work as a pastor led him to begin writing, and he has published numerous books on faith and Christian life.

McLaren unpacks some of the science of global climate change, and its everyday effects for human life around the world. Looking at the dangers of a changing climate, McLaren turns to faith as the inspiration for advocacy and change. In his own words, “Ultimately, climate change is a spiritual matter.” McLaren attributes reluctance to accept or take action to prevent climate change in part to a certain kind of eschatology.  He then goes on to discuss instances in which average congregations inspired by care for God’s world made real changes to combat climate change. The podcast concludes with McLaren’s own recommendations for any Christian wanting to learn more about creation care.

Find this episode of YMBQ  on apple podcasts here,  Youtube here, and on other podcast providers. For more information on Brian McLaren, click here to be directed to his personal website.

Religion and Environment Songs: Ones and Zeros by Jack Johnson

Picture courtesy of jackjohnsonmusic.com

Song Picks by Natalie

Ones and Zeros is song by Jack Johnson that starts out by saying,

“There’s a black hole pulling me in
I slowly bend until I see the back of my own sins
I stole my soul from myself now I wonder”

I believe that he is referring to being sucked into a state of oblivion and not even realizing what is a sin and what is not. At this point, man is no longer himself. He then says,

“In the future we’ll be laughing at who we were right now
As man plays god with the land that he plunders”

“To the one unknown no one can know nor see
That’s resistant to greed
If we listen to time after time, time can never go under”

Here I think he starts out by saying that when future generations look back, they will laugh at how man treated the land. People in the future will see how absurd it is that man tried to play God and take control of the land. I believe he is then referring to people ignoring God. He is referring to God by saying “the one unknown no one can know nor see” and that if people listen to Him, we can never go under.

He makes several other references to people being oblivious and ignoring the problems of the planet.

“Into a world of boys and girls
Are holding their handheld devices
While they’re eating and they’re sleeping
And they’re dreaming of the prices
We’ll be paying down the line
When the ice melts maybe it will turn to wine”

“And a lot of people like to have a feast
Not so many could stomach the killing”

At the end he says,

“Lot of traffic on the streets, so who’s really doing all the drilling
Keep on filling what can never be full”

I believe he is saying that people must take responsibility for our actions. We are the ones constantly wanting more and never being satisfied with what we have already been blessed with. We can never be content and that is the true problem.

To read the lyrics, click here.

To listen to the song, click here.

Religion and Environment Songs: Earth Song by Michael Jackson

Picture courtesy of wikipedia.org


Song Picks by Natalie

Earth Song by Michael Jackson is about all of the damage that has been done to the planet and how people are too busy to even notice. Throughout the song he repeats the line:

“Did you ever stop to notice
This crying Earth, these weeping shores?”

I think this is him describing people ignoring the signs and chosing not to notice how the condition of the earth is deteriorating. He also talks about other global issues that people chose to ignore like war and poverty. In the middle of the song he says:

“What have we done to the world?
Look what we’ve done
What about all the peace that you pledge your only son?”

I think this is him referring to God sending his only son to forgive the world’s sins. He is saying that we have forgotten about this sacrifice and have chosen not to respect it by not taking care of what God has given us. At the end of the song he makes several references to nature and Christianity. He first says:

“What about nature’s worth?
It’s our planet’s womb
(What about us?)
What about animals?
(What about it?)
Turned kingdoms to dust”

This is another instance of him talking about people forgetting about nature and animals and essentially destroying them. A few lines later he says:

“What about The Holy Land?
(What about it?)
Torn apart by creed?
(What about us?)”

“What about Abraham?
(What about us?)
What about death again?

I think that these are both examples of Michael Jackson referring to Christianity. When he says that The Holy Land has been torn apart by creed, I believe he is referring to the conflict in Israel between the Palestinians and the Israelites. He is questioning peoples faith if they are having war over and destroying The Holy Land.  In the second verse, I think that he is alluding to the Book of Genesis and the Blessing of Abraham. He is reminding people that God blessed all people of earth through Abraham and when he says “What about death again?” he is referring to the rapture or the return of Christ. Overall with the mention of Abraham and death again in this verse, I think his message is that there will be consequences if we forget the blessings that God has given us.

To read the lyrics, click here.

To listen to the song, click here.

Religion and Environment Songs: S.O.S (Mother Nature) by Will.I.Am

Image result for the black eyed peas will i am S.O.S

Picture courtesy of biography.com

Song Picks by Natalie

S.O.S (Mother Nature) is a song by Will.I.Am, who is well known as the lead singer of The Black Eyed Peas. This song describes how people are destroying Mother Nature and need help to change our ways. The song says:

“We got a new terror threat, it’s called the weather
More deadlier than chemical and nuclear together
It’s hotter in the winter, even hotter in the summer
Jesus, or Buddha, somebody come and help us out”

“Lord come down and help us out
Send us an angel, help us out
SOS, help us out
Looking all around and I’m watching the world, changing
Open up your eyes, you can see things rearranging
The world is dying
And if they say it’s gonna be alright, them people are lying”

“The gas is rising up but we keep on filling up
CO2 levels got the whole planet heated up
It’s blazing in the winter, even hotter in the summer
Mohammed, Jehovah, somebody come and help us out”

I think that the song is saying humanity is too far gone and our priorities are not in the right place. Will.I.Am describes the damage people have done to the environment from cutting down rain forests, to releasing CO2, to polluting the air, but he also says:

“People don’t see the sign, watching money all the time
Get the pennies, get the dimes, get the dollars is the mindstate
Of the human race, people on the paper chase.”

I think this is him describing how the priority for people is money, not taking care of the earth. I think that is why he says “Lord come down and help us out” and why he calls to many different religious figures for help because he believes that humanity has failed.

Note: This song does contain some profanity

To read the lyrics, click here.

To listen to the song, click here.

Is There Evidence for God?

Two professors and two contrasting religious views came together at Ohio State’s Mershon Auditorium on February 24, 2016. The venue was packed with hundreds of students, professors, and families. Hosted by the Veritas Forum, philosophy professors William Lane Craig and Kevin Sharp tackle an important spiritual question – is there evidence for a God?

Dr. Craig started the debate from a Christian perspective. According to Craig, God explains why anything exists – the universe, math, fine-tuning of the universe for life, and objective morals. Sharp contradicts his view from an atheist perspective, asking how confident Christians were in their arguments for God. Sharp argues that simple confidence is a weak reason to believe in God; Christians need more than just confidence for a strong argument. Sharp claims that it is almost impossible to determine God’s reasoning, and that all people – including atheists – have moral values. Sharp says there is no magical dividing line between biology and religion; this contrasts Craig’s argument that God specifically designed biological creation. Sharp also says that theism causes hate; for example, many Christians cherry-pick verses to support their own intolerable opinions.

To counter these points, Craig argues that atheists cannot prove that God didn’t fine-tune creation. He argues for non-reductive rationalism; that things like spiritual values can’t be explained in terms of science. To this, Sharp claims that God condemning people to Hell contradicts Craig’s claim of a loving God, and urges students to be critical and forge their own religious beliefs rather than borrowing from others.

From the beginning, Dr. Craig gained the crowd’s favor with his gentle, demure personality. Dr. Sharp came off as abrasive and rude in his arguments, while Dr. Craig remained collected and calm. After many of his rebuttals to Dr. Sharp, the audience would cheer at his answers. The forum did an excellent job of providing a neutral, unbiased space for a peaceful debate. While the ultimate question of evidence for a theistic God remains subjective, it was interesting to hear atheist and Christian professors duke it out over the topic for an hour.


The 16 Strivings for God with Dr. Steven Reiss

I had the pleasure of attending the April luncheon titled The 16 Strivings for God with Dr. Steven Reiss – hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Faculty and Staff. During the luncheon, Dr. Reiss discussed his accomplishments including his role in the establishment of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), his two books, and the Reiss ProfileThe 16 Basic Desires of Human Nature (1)

His theory on the 16 Basic Desires of Human Nature provides a testable method on which to analyze religion in a psychological sense rather than theologically. Although Dr. Reiss stated that he does not identify with any Religion, he did admit that Religion promotes inclusion and allows people to transcend their separations. This notion reinforces the role that Religion may have in mitigating environmental degradation that has been discussed in class. In other words, by having people from difficult faith communities find common ground, similar goals may be realized and acted upon in solidarity.