The second session of the Stewardship or Sacrifice conference featured reflections on how the theology of stewardship and sacrifice might help us to address the ethical challenges presented by global climate change.  The aim of the religious scholars and leaders involved was not to provide a unified theology of stewardship and sacrifice.  It was, rather, to discuss various ways in which specific aspects of religious and theological traditions can be brought into discussions aimed at convincing their members of the moral significance of the problem.

Christian Brady began by calling our attention to passages in Genesis that he interprets as telling us that “caring for the world is what it and we were created for”. His reflections were supplemented by reflections on the ethical significance within Judaism (Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin), Christianity (Sandra Strauss), and Islam (David L. Johnston) of being entrusted with something that is not one’s own and is to be shared for the benefit of all.  One might get the impression from these reflections that the threat of global climate change calls us to renew our commitment to a kind of concern for the earth that has really always been at the core of our Western monotheistic traditions.  To this perspective was contrasted the idea that climate change calls us to adopt an essentially forward-looking posture; one in which we determine the proper response on the basis of moral philosophical arguments concerning the threat it poses to human dignity, rather than on the basis of a creation narrative in which we claim to find a mandate for environmentalism (Rosemary Bartocci).

A response to the panel was provided by Mark Wallace, who argued that, like all great social movements in our past, the movement to address climate change will have to be spear-headed by religious leaders.  Sustainability, according to Wallace, is a spiritual issue that requires us to “recover hidden wisdom buried in our traditions” concerning such things as the sanctity of the bio-system that feeds us, and the “sacred, god-given power of the life cycle”.

The Stewardship or Sacrifice conference continues all day tomorrow at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center and is free and open to the public.

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