On February 22, 2017, the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) hosted a national interfaith forum at Parliament House, New South Wales. In roundtable discussions consisting of people from various Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Bahai’i, people identified the natural environment and sustainability as a key issue facing the spiritual and material health of Australia. They agreed that religions have to be part of the learning, the sharing of a variety of insights and of the much-needed action.
The participants from a range of religious traditions talked about the religious values that can help address some of the problems. They agreed that God is in everything, and that we are all interconnected, including inter-generationally. We need spiritual reformation to develop an ethic of enough to overcome greed, apathy and the consumer culture. The emphasis placed on economic growth leads to waste, including of energy. We need to me more aware of where our food comes from and the impact of food production, including of meat.
The group made recommendations to government, to faith communities and to individuals.
There is a crisis.
Both knowledge and action are required.
Governments need to see faith communities as a resource and consult them on the many issues which are part of the crisis, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the dying Great Barrier Reef, water, food production, renewable energy, fossil fuel use and renewable energy.
If population growth is to be addressed, then gender equity and women’s education is crucial.
To faith communities:
Each religion should re-read its religious texts in light of scientific knowledge and ecological concerns.
Religion can be in dialogue with scientists regarding faith values and scientific knowledge about climate change.
The Faith Ecology Network provides a natural space for doing things together.
Humans have the capacity to care. Fulfilling our human role involves responsibility to act.
People of faith can be involved as environmental educators with others in the wider community.
For the full report on the APRO Forum see https://assembly.uca.org.au/rof/rof-news/item/2578-religious-values-and-the-value-of-religion-apro-forum
The 22nd May is recognised as the United Nations International Day for Biological Diversity and was chosen as a significant day for the Faith Ecology Network to meet together in prayer and reflection on damage to Earth’s systems, the extinction of species and the need for change.
Gathering at the Sydney Town Hall as a display of public witness, representatives from nine different Faith communities committed to their Faith traditions and to caring for the earth. At 4.30pm, this space was busy with commuters and passer-by’s with many stopping to listen and absorb the peaceful and contemplative atmosphere that was created.
MUSINGS OF A LEADER, The Good Oil, April 18, 2017
Engaging in science-religion dialogue
Science and religion are separate and distinct disciplines, but surely we must learn from the engagement of one discipline with the other, writes Good Samaritan Sister Clare Condon.
BY Clare Condon SGS*
“There is naivety in just saying there’s no God,” the eminent physicist, Professor Brian Cox, said in an interview with The Telegraph back in 2014. Brian Cox seems to be agnostic about the existence of God, but he does not dismiss it outright. In the same interview, he also said that profound questions about cosmology and human existence “have not been discussed widely; they need novelists and artists and philosophers and theologians and physicists to discuss them”.
Faith Ecology Network Foray to Gloucester
By Anne Lanyon
I travelled to Gloucester in the inland midcoastal area of New South Wales for the Sustainable Futures Convention 2017. It was a local community based initiative which arose after their struggle against AGL’s attempts to open coal-seam-gas mining in the area. It seems that after the groundswell of opposition to CSG, community activism for sustainable futures for renewable energy, sustainable farming and other local initiatives are strong in the region, though the threat from mining still continues. The Rocky Hill Coal project is for an open cut coal mine which, if it goes ahead will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. www.communityrun.org/petitions/save-gloucester-from-yet-another-open-cut-coal-mine
The United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The UN states that tourism, as one of the largest and fastest-growing socio-economic sectors of our times, can stimulate economic growth, creating jobs and business opportunities that can help people escape poverty and improve their livelihoods.
But is Sustainable Tourism an oxymoron?
Firstly, consider some ecological impacts from tourism: carbon emissions from transport especially by air; pristine wilderness that is no longer so pristine once it is on the tourist map. Secondly, let's think about the impact on culture: do many tourists actually gain a real understanding of a new country and its people. Finally, think about the actual economic benefit for many local people: does a resort buy local food and employ local people? Was a local person coerced into selling their land to a developer for a lot less than it is really worth?
During Laudato Si’ Week (June 13-17, 2016), prominent speakers from different faiths and backgrounds dialogued about the crisis affecting our common home and reflected on the Pope’s Laudato Si’ message on occasion of its first anniversary.
The Environment Meditatio held in Sydney 22-24 April was a ‘transformative’ experience for the 350 people who attended. Bringing together significant speakers from the various disciplines of theology, philosophy, science and spirituality, it was both a sobering reminder of the ecological crisis we currently face and an inspiring call to action. Two FEN members, Mona Javam and James O'Brien, share their thoughts
By Daniel Mostovac – presenter at PathWays Coalition for Diversity Education
“Humanity is endangered.”
So says Shaykh Taner, a Teacher of the Ansari Order of Sufis based in New South Wales. Originally from Turkey, Shaykh Taner and his wife Shaykha Muzeyyen have lived in the United States for the past 30 years and have recently toured Melbourne and Sydney, offering talks, meditations and healings. Sufism is a movement that originated in Islam some thousand years ago, often called the mystical interpretation of Islam. However, Sufism today can be practiced in a secular way. The Ansari Order makes no discrimination based on sex, gender, religion or politics, but welcomes anyone in search of peace and truth.
On 18th April 2016, an interfaith statement calling for urgent action on climate change will be presented to the President of the UN General Assembly in New York. FEN welcomes this call for action, and we encourage members of the public to sign the statement here.
"Food needs to be included in the strategy to alleviate global climate change
and biodiversity decline". Read more in the slide presentation by Dana Murty on the International Year of Pulses here.