Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Community Day

Yesterday was Community Day at the School of Theology. This year's theme was ecotheology, a topic that is obviously of great interested to me. We started the morning off with a short worship/prayer service which was followed by a lecture on ecotheology by Dr. Dennis Patrick O'Hara from St. Michael's College in Toronto. Now, to be honest I get a little nervous when I hear that a theologian is going to be talking about ecology. Afterall, I spent the better part of 6 years just learning the basics of ecology and am still learning. So, when someone that has been a theologian claims to know ecology I'm a bit skeptical. Yesterday was certainly an exception to that vague rule of mine. Dr. O'Hara knows his science and he knows his theology. He does hang a lot of what he's talking about on work by Thomas Berry, some of which I just can't go with. There were two concepts of the talk that stuck with me and that I'm going to have to investigate much deeper. First, from Berry, is that God creates a universe that creates itself. This isn't a model of intelligent design since the universe isn't a deterministic entity. Neither is it random. God set this energy into motion and what it is ... is. The other concept is that of Christ the Redeemer and Creator. Dr. O'Hara pulled in a number of Patristic-era theologians, Ireneaus, Basil, Origen, and Augustine to demonstrate that we've lost this idea of Christ as a creator. It's fascinating and is shaping up to be the subject of my major grad paper or thesis.
Following the lectures, students and faculty headed out to the woods and St. John's Arboretum for a little Benedictine work. We spent the better part of two hours pulling European Buckthorn from the woods - putting out ecotheology into practice. Tom Kroll, Director of the Arboretum talked about St. John's being among the first actively managed forests in the state to be certified as "green" by the Forest Stewardship Council. While certification means good land stewardship is being practiced during cutting, it also means the forestry is sustainable and based on social justice as well.
Days like yesterday leave no doubt in my mind that I'm where I'm supposed to be.

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