Each month I relate what’s happening with Forcing Change, and give you a glimpse into what we’ve done as a family. Here’s the update for February.
– In early February I had the opportunity of traveling to Escondido, California, where I participated in the TruthXChange think tank. Peter Jones, author of Capturing the Pagan Mind, One or Two, and other books on the Christian response to global Oneness, contacted myself around the Christmas season to see if I could attend. As Executive Director of TruthXChange, he graciously allowed me time to give a modified “frontline” presentation to the gathering. It was a great experience with lots of good feedback. My topic? How Oneness is being expressed through evolutionary culture and transformational festivals.
On my way to the think tank, my connecting flight in Minneapolis was delayed because of storms along the eastern seaboard. During the wait, a young lady sat next to me for a few minutes. Based on her attire and other clues, I asked if she was a flow artist – yes! “Which transformational festivals have you attended?” She gave me a quick list of events in New York and California, including Joshua Tree. Understanding that she’d experienced a crosscut of evolutionary culture, I asked her a basic question; “What’s the common connection between the festivals?” Her response was immediate and telling: “It’s spiritual – it’s all very spiritual.”
– February was “manuscript month.” I had a few weeks to push hard on some first draft chapters, and now I just want to keep going! I’m looking forward to the end product, and it might be done before 2025, my sarcastic date-for-completion.
– Finished the February issue of Forcing Change, which looks at the topic of “becoming God.” It’s an overview of Genesis 1 and 3, and how this plays into religious and philosophical thought today. Some of this has been explored in past editions of Forcing Change, but the topic here is being considered in-depth. The essay title is “Circle of Gods.”
Radio Shows: I was a guest on Stand for Truth, hosted by Susan Knowles.
– As I was in Escondido, California, for the first week of February, I booked one day extra to rent a car and explore. I had never been to California before, and I was excited to check out the scenery, go to the beaches, and just relax. My day’s goal was simple: Drive west until I found salt water, follow the shore at my leisure, and soak up the sun wherever and whenever. So I first found myself in Oceanside and spent time walking the surf there, then drove down to Torrey Pines – but because of some fancy golf tournament, I couldn’t find anywhere to park – thus I continued on until I found myself at Mission Beach. That’s where I stayed until the sun went down, and loved every minute of it. I was a little nervous about finding my way back, for I didn’t have a map, GPS or cell phone, and because I really didn’t know where I was in relationship to Escondido. I just started driving, and everything fell into place.
– The day after my return from California, Leanne and I were treated to a wonderful choir experience. Scott and Austin, our son and daughter, were part of the Provincial Honour Choirs, an auditioned ensemble made up of singers from across Manitoba. Scott performed with the adult group, conducted by Michelle Chyzyk, and Austin with the Senior School choir, conducted by Christopher Aspaas.
– Leanne had the opportunity of adjudicating a youth speech-arts festival in Binscarth, Manitoba. For two days she listened to poems, readings, speech choirs, and other forms of speech art – and then had the difficult task of evaluating and marking each performance. The level of competence demonstrated by the participating youth was remarkable. Moreover, as Leanne is involved in organizing a similar festival in our area during the month of March, she had to devote a lot of time and attention in February toward this upcoming event.
– Went downhill skiing at a local hill, and I’m paying for it in pain. But it was so much fun! In the past I used to be aggressive on the slope, but over the years I’ve taken a more conservative approach. However, I decided – for old time sake – to push the boundaries. One tabletop jump, in order to clear it, required hitting the approach at top speed. Unfortunately, while in the air, a ski binding let go… so my landing was a little messy. As one ski remained and the other went on without me, I was instantly flipped sideways, landing hard on my left shoulder. “Snap-Crackle-and-Pop” are no longer just Kellogg mascots for Rice Krispies. I don’t think I broke anything… but my shoulder is not quite right. Anyway, I got up, remounted, and – after tightening the bindings – cleared the tabletop (most of the time), again and again and again. Silly tabletop.
– Scott spent a week house sitting for relatives, and this gave him some time on his own. He also went for rail equipment training and received his ticket to operate railway track machinery, so it looks like he’s back on the railroad this spring. And he and Austin volunteered for a couple of days at the toboggan hill at Valley View Bible Camp.
Stinkers for the month of February: Colds all around (Austin is still sick), and a week of tire trouble. In five days we had 7 nails, two flats, and one tire wrecked when a nail went through the sidewall. The joy of living on a dirt/gravel road not far from the municipal garbage dump.
– Josef M. Bauer, As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me (Skyhorse Publishing, 2008).
– Peter Jones, Capturing the Pagan Mind: Paul’s Blueprint for Thinking and Living in the New Global Culture (Broadman & Holman,2003).
– Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Majesty of God in the Old Testament (Baker Academic, 2007).
This is a sobering yet important topic – “Is my church acting like a cult?”
The radio host – Cindy Hartline, and the guest – Christopher Lawson, handled this tough subject in a tactful and compassionate manner.
Here’s the link to Cindy Hartline’s radio show, Love For The Truth Radio: www.loveforthetruthradio.com
Here’s the link to Chris Lawson’s website, Spiritual Research Network: www.spiritual-research-network.com
By Carl Teichrib
Note: UNESCO is now pushing hard to bring “global citizenship education” to schools around the world. This report, first published to Forcing Change members, examines part of the global citizenship agenda.
Support Note: If you appreciate the research work involved in this report, please consider donating through the Pay Pal button on the right side of the page.
Special Note: This was not written in support of Global Citizenship Education, but to inform you regarding its techniques, emotional leveraging, and overall thought pattern.
The first “internationalist” event I attended was the Global Citizenship 2000 Youth Congress, held in Vancouver, British Columbia, back in April 1997. It was an audacious gathering of educators, community leaders and students, inspired by the United Nations “prophet of hope,” Robert Muller.
The point of our gathering was simple yet profound: To embed the principles of global citizenship into Canada’s educational system. We would become global.
What did this mean? It represented the desire to create a new mind, a new way of thinking and thus acting. A globally pertinent change in values and beliefs were presented to us. This planetary approach, passionately communicated by Muller, was built around the ideology of “oneness.”
We are all interconnected was the message; to the Earth, to the energy of the universe, to each other. To express this unity we each received a symbolic “Global Citizenship” passport. The words on the inside back-page encapsulated the purpose of our Congress; “A good inhabitant of the planet Earth, a member of the great human family… You are the Earth become conscious of herself… Unite, global citizens, to save and heal planet Earth.”
As the author of the World Core Curriculum and one who had a personal hand in creating eleven UN agencies, Muller was in an unparalleled position to motivate planetary action. Our task was to flesh out tangible expressions of unity as we focused on the core of his UNESCO-awarded educational philosophy; “A new world morality and world ethics… global management… [a] vast synthesis… to make each human being proud to be a member of a transformed species…” Managing the world, and thus advancing humanity’s collective evolution, will bring about our ascension as “universal, total beings.”
Here are a few of the activism ideas shared by participating groups during the Congress.
– Promote global citizenship clubs in schools.
– Create a “global citizenship” theme park to promote planetary thinking.
– Call for an international water management regime.
– Declare a “Global Citizenship Day.”
– Launch school-based interfaith clubs and groups.
One school team proposed a big idea: To zero-out world debt and issue everyone a biometric card with a money-replacement points program based on your occupation and its value to the planet. At the table next to mine, a group of junior high girls exemplified the new paradigm in a one-act play. “Mother Earth” sat on a round table with pine boughs held aloft, then, one after another, students laid hands on Mother and made confession; “I’m guilty… of wasting water… wasting electricity… killing animals by wearing leather sandals… polluting the environment when I’m fully aware of the oil leak in my dad’s car.” In turn, Gaia – Mother Earth – forgave each child as they vowed to redeem their eco-sins through positive actions.
Muller shared his achievements and vision of unity. He told us about planting the seed of the United Religions Initiative during the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions and then again, in 1995, at the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. “I almost cannot believe they listened to me,” he beamed, “I will be the father of the United Religions!”
Muller, who since passed away in 2010, elaborated on his dreams for a politically managed planet. He suggested different approaches to world order and encouraged the pursuit of each; Empower the United Nations into a “United States of the World,” form a constitutional World Federation, integrate continental regions – creating an American Union and an African Union – and then bring these together with the European Union into a “World Union,” establish communities around dominant terrestrial features such as a Pacific Community, an Atlantic Community, an Arctic Community, etc.
“So you have a fantastic future,” announced the prophet of world order. “Just come up with an idea.”
Muller pressed the need to “acquire new values and behaviour.” If we didn’t change for the global good, then “all life on this planet will extinguish.” The weight of the world’s salvation was placed on our shoulders, and it was an emotionally charged call-of-duty. “Either you change your values, or you don’t… if you change, if you consider the Earth as being number one your Mother, then it will change.”
The flip side was that if we continued to consume and hold the wrong values, “you will be the responsible generation of having to put an end to all life on this planet.”
The spiritual outlook required to save the planet was to recognize the “basic truth” as given by “Jesus, by Mohammad, by these emissaries from outer space.” What was this basic truth? The cosmos incarnating itself through our collective divinity.
“You are not children of Canada, you are really living units of the cosmos be cause the Earth is a cosmic phenomena… we are all cosmic units. This is why religions tell you, you are divine. We are divine energy… it is in your hands whether evolution on this planet continues or not…”
As an independent attendee I was assigned to a team of university students who were studying to become educators. This group was focussed on tangible ways to integrate the World Core Curriculum into the classroom. How? was the question.
Recognizing the spiritual nature underscoring Muller’s worldview, and that our quest for a global citizenship paradigm had entered the arena of beliefs and values modification, the talk turned to traditionally held parental convictions and how to “deal with parental pessimism.” It was noted that if a child’s values could be changed in the classroom, then family attitudes would shift too. This, the future teachers acknowledged, was a worthy goal. After some discussion it was agreed that creatively placing global citizenship values into all subject areas was the most important way to influence young minds. Global problems requiring global solutions – such as overpopulation – would be integrated into literature, history, and mathematics. Planetary awareness would thus be emphasized, along with the call for collective action. By embedding emotionally-charged global concerns into the lifespan of formal education, and in-turn facilitating the responsive values change, the correct Oneness philosophy would become profoundly infused within every facet of society. As one team member said; “Make it a virus, no inoculation, infect everyone.”
Education for Global Thinking
In the spring of 2014, UNESCO released its report meant to assist in the Education For All program, an ambitious movement to bring “education for all children, youth and adults” by 2015. The document, titled Global Citizenship Education: Preparing Learners for the Challenges of the 21st Century, explores the role of world citizenship education as a tool for social change.
“…there is growing interest in global citizenship education [GCE], signalling a shift in the role and purpose of education to that of forging more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies.”[i]
This is an interesting statement in that it admits to moving a traditional view of education towards a transformational approach. Arithmetic and language arts, history and science, will still play a role in the educational system, but the basic motivation is no longer the development of cognitive skills for the sake of knowledge growth – it is about a new framework, a new way of seeing ourselves as part of the global whole, “to deal with the dynamic and interdependent world of the twenty-first century.”[ii]
In working through the commonalities found within global citizenship education, UNESCO recognized five core elements. Note the collectivist approach.
1. An attitude supported by an understanding of multiple levels of identity, and the potential for a ‘collective identity’ which transcends individual cultural, religious, ethnic or other differences;
2. A deep knowledge of global issues and universal values such as justice, equality, dignity and respect;
3. Cognitive skills to think critically, systemically and creatively, including adopting a multi-perspective approach that recognizes the different dimensions, perspectives and angles of issues;
4. Non-cognitive skills including social skills such as empathy and conflict resolution, communication skills and aptitudes for networking and interacting with people of different backgrounds, origins, cultures and perspectives; and
5. Behavioural capacities to act collaboratively and responsibly to find global solutions for global challenges, and to strive for the collective good.[iii]
The above five points are not found in the paradigm of traditional education, which focused on core subject areas and the facts associated with them. World citizenship thinking, however, requires a new kind of learner – those emotionally aroused through “global problem” narratives and the stirring of “universal values.” Planetary equality and justice are thus demanded in the face of perceived wrongs and narrow views; wealth inequality and the “evils of capitalism,” climate change and “dirty energy,” intolerant religious beliefs, national sovereignty versus “global responsibility,” the bigotry of traditional sexual bounds, and the plight of the environment as caused by the greedy underpinnings of private property.
When the student’s emotions are sufficiently heightened within the shaped egalitarian mindset, then the real push takes place. “We must do something,” cries the curriculum. “We must do something,” demands the collective voice of globally-attuned youth. The need for a “democratic” and “global remedy” becomes the focus. “Change the world” and “we are change” are mantras that energize the classroom. Only through positive planetary deeds, finding “global solutions for global challenges… for the collective good,” can we hope to be the difference.
Understand, the above five points are not about education per se, but about creating activists who seek the “common good” as an expression of their worldview – we are all one. And if we are one, then those who act outside of that parameter need to change or get-out-of-the-way. It’s the classic recipe for revolutionary “citizen democracy.”
Does the above sound too over-the-top? Surely “global citizenship education” isn’t about shaping a generation of global activists?
Consider that on page 20 of the UNESCO document, the report has a subsection acknowledging the fact that global citizenship education and activism are directly correlated. Moreover, page 20 recognizes that,
“citizens… showing active concern for global issues could be perceived as challenging local/national authorities if their actions are deemed to be in conflict with local or national interests. The role of education in challenging the status quo or building skills for activism may be a concern for those who see this as a threat to the stability of the nation state.”
The above statement is accurate, although written from the perspective of advocating transformation. The report goes on to say, “Although global citizenship education does entail resisting the status quo and imagining alternative futures, this should be considered and presented as a positive challenge that can enrich and broaden cultural, local and national identities.”
In the Western experience of ideas and social movements, the concerns regarding the progressive “alternative futures” of change-agents are warranted. Their visions and campaigns – based on emotionally charged ideology – are often couched in good intentions, yet show a lack of understanding for on-the-ground realities and a failure to grasp cause-and-effect. And as those imagined outcomes are frequently utopian in their social/political goals, when those structures-for-change are finally implemented and fail, to the detriment of many, then more systemic transformation is always called for. After all, their vision is never at fault. Instead, the conservative voices of concern are blamed.
More than just a failure to comprehend root causes and unintended consequences, many of the solutions recommended by activists openly require cultural shifts and value modifications that undermine the foundations of Western stability: Christian ethics and moral sensibilities, national sovereignty, laws framed on higher standards, independence, and free enterprise. These traditional building blocks, rather, are to be replaced by “participatory democracy” and its shifting cultural winds, entrenched political correctness, legal ambiguities and larger government bureaucracies, and always more spending – with recommendations that public funds be channeled into “advocacy.” In other words, tax money should be directed back into the activist community, for they have the “vision of the anointed.”[iv]
As social/political critic, Thomas Sowell, explains regarding the intellectual leadership that drives transformational activism,
“In their zeal for particular kinds of decisions to be made, those with the vision of the anointed seldom consider the nature of the process by which decisions are made. Often what they propose amounts to third-party decision making by people who pay no cost for being wrong – surely one of the least promising ways of reaching decisions satisfactory to those who must live with the consequences.”[v]
When one considers the social cost, it’s not unusual to find that liberties are being sacrificed for the sake of the “greater good.” Looking at the history of progressive activism, Sowell reminds us that “seldom have so few cost so much to so many.”[vi]
Examples abound of progressive activism in the classroom, giving a voice to tomorrows leaders today. One will suffice: In 2013, grade 8 children in Lakeview, Michigan, wrote letters to public officials as part of a classroom campaign against hydraulic fracturing (and one student received a letter back from President Obama). The source of their knowledge? The controversial documentary Gasland, an anti-fracking video that used fraudulent footage of “burning” water coming out of a tap. Did the teacher have any real or practical knowledge of hydraulic fracturing? No. And neither did the students, but their emotions had been stirred in light of perceived environmental injustices, and they did what any global citizen would do – “be the change.”
From fracking to gender identity to “global warming” to foreign policies to sustainable development to wealth redistribution and “taxing the rich,” to energy and industry to sexual orientation to… you name it, students are now activists on every front imaginable. Classrooms have become training grounds for experiential forms of “global democracy.” The ill-informed mob, without the constraint of higher standards and factual realities, exert the vision of those who have shaped their thinking. We demand change.
I realize that the above is a generalization, but it is also a norm. I also know that not every educator works to make social change agents out of students. Some teachers I have spoken with are very disturbed by the trend they see; the push for “global citizenship education” and activism. But it nevertheless exists, and it is not isolated nor is it without context. In fact, there is a tangible history behind the idea of education as a tool for social/political indoctrination.[vii]
As the UNESCO report explained, “education for peace and sustainable development” seeks to create “empowered global citizens as an objective.”[viii]
As such, global citizenship education “aims to… focus on engagement in individual and collective action to bring about desired changes; and involve multiple stakeholders, including those outside the learning environment, in the community and in wider society.”[ix]
Accordingly, UNESCO notes that global citizenship education is “built on a lifelong perspective… not only for children and youth but also for adults.” Furthermore, it can be integrated through “formal and informal approaches, curricular and extracurricular interventions and conventional and unconventional pathways to participation.”
The words from my Global Citizenship 2000 Youth Congress come to mind; “make it a virus, no inoculation, infect everyone.”
“Collective identity” and working “for the collective good,” as preached by UNESCO, are paramount to an existence of global interdependence and interconnectedness; “the global challenges which cannot be adequately or uniquely addressed by nations states, sustainability as the main concept of the future.”[x]
Not surprisingly, the UNESCO text points to my province’s Grade 12 “Global Issues: Citizenship and Sustainability” curriculum. This Manitoba Social Studies unit explains that global citizenship education is activism-oriented and works to move the student from “me to we – from passive to active… from status quo to change.” The Take Action unit section explains it this way; “The goal is to move students from awareness through questioning, inquiry and dialogue, to critical consciousness and, ultimately, to praxis – engagement in informed reflective action for positive change… students should be free to plan small or large scale projects, with a local, national or global scope.”
To that end, Manitoba students are to pursue activism in the following areas of concern; Media, Consumerism, Environment, Global Wealth and Power, Social Justice and Human Rights, Biotechnology, Modern Slavery, and Gender and Identity. In pursuing those key topics, a number of sub-issues are listed; energy and resource depletion, global environmental governance, the Gaia Hypothesis, spiritual values in nature, climate change, population growth, consumption, alternatives to the free market, international debt, global equality, environmental justice, human trafficking, “abortion on demand,” controlling family sizes, sexual orientation and LGBT rights, and tactical activism.
The bottom line is this: Global citizenship education is about ingraining the idea that we are all one, and we must become activists to that end. Spirituality becomes planetary, Earth loyalties are demanded, values are shifted, and global management to solve global problems are proclaimed. In other words, global citizenship demands planetary governance, planetary spirituality, planetary agents of change… planetary bureaucracy. Freedom and liberty in this paradigm demands that you conform to the global consensus. And it’s always for the “general good.”
What isn’t acceptable are the by-products and framework of traditional Christian principles, for this exemplifies social and religious standards that are now deemed archaic. In the name of tolerance, we cannot tolerate your “backward” views of ethics and individual responsibility. Global citizenship demands that we switch to broader mandates. No longer appreciated are the closed-minded moral limits of orthodox Christian principles, national independence which causes separateness, and troubling exclusive religious truth claims. Instead, we are firmly planted in the values of the New Age.
Without hesitation, it is safe to say that the final role of global citizenship education is to bend minds for a planetary correct society, one where students, spurred to action, become “agents for change.”
Robert Muller would be proud.
[i] Global Citizenship Education: Preparing Learners for the Challenges of the 21st Century (UNESCO, 2014), p.5.
[ii] Ibid., p.9.
[iii] Ibid., p.9.
[iv] Thomas Sowell explores this concept in his books, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (Basic Books, 1995), and Intellectuals and Society (Basic Books, 2010).
[v] Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed (Basic Books, 1995), p.129.
[vi] Ibid., p.260.
[vii] See, Brave New Schools (Harvest House, 1995), written by Berit Kjos.
[viii] Global Citizenship Education, p.11.
[ix] Ibid., p.16.
[x] Ibid., p.17.
Here’s a glimpse into the last four weeks of Forcing Change and the Teichrib life.
– Finally had the opportunity of returning to my manuscript project, at least for a while. Yes, I’m trying to write a book. At this point it’s without title, but the thrust of the text examines the ongoing shift to the paradigm of Oneness. To that end, I explore the little mentioned change over from post-modernism into the Age of Re-Enchantment, and the many political, social, technological, and religious by-products that emerges from this transformation. We’re on the edge of a whole new world!
– Spoke three times to congregations in Manitoba. The communities I went to: St. Laurent, Fortier, and Neepawa.
– Worked on a Google Map project in which I’m pinning locations of transformational festivals and events that express evolutionary spiritual change. This project will be used, in-part, during a thirty minute presentation I’m giving at the TruthXChange think tank conference in Escondido, California during the first week of February.
– Finished the January edition of Forcing Change magazine. The January issue delves into three personal and interlocking questions: Who do you follow? Who do you trust? Who do you serve? Moreover, a guest author challenges Christian researchers and activists to pursue their calling with a higher standard.
– Radio Shows I was interviewed on: TruNews, VFTB, Truth Traveler, and The Bunker Files.
– The Teichrib household was hit with two-weeks of illness, which started right before the New Year. Oh joy.
– Our daughter has been boxing now for about a year, and in January, Leanne and our son decided to take it up too. What does this mean for me? Think about it… :)
– Gave a speech workshop for one evening to the local 4-H club. It was a lot of fun, and because the ages of club members varied from teens to younger children, the questions were interesting. “What happens if I’m giving my speech and the wind blows and my hair gets in my face?” “What happens if…”
– Attended two funerals in one week. Not fun.
Books Read: Richard E. Byrd, Skyward (Halcyon House, 1937).
By Carl Teichrib (www.forcingchange.org)
Preamble: Today’s Christian community is rife with green social and political messages, eco-theology, and interfaith action on the environment. Examples abound, such as the G8 World Religious Summit of 2010, a major interfaith meeting with strong representation from across the Protestant/evangelical spectrum, working in cooperation with world religions to push global green governance and a form of eco-spirituality.
Another example is the commissioned Mennonite Central Committee report, Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s Creation. In it we discover a combination of questionable theology, pantheistic-based messages, troubling political and social activism, mystical meditations and texts on the sacredness of Earth, the promotion of family planning through the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (part of the global abortion industry), favorable connections to The Earth Charter Foundation and Friends of the Earth – and at the end of the book we find this suggestion; “this week, make an offering to the earth, in the form of a prayer or some other gift.” (bold in original)
In Canada, the United Church sings “O Beautiful Gaia” – a song to the Greek goddess of Earth – as found in their More Voices hymnal. Across North America congregations hold Earth Day services, hear sermons on global warming, and engage in environmental campaigns. Example after example could be given. It’s like we’re facing a tsunami of green.
So when and where did Christendom find itself intersecting with radical green thinking and eco-based interfaithism? In this essay we explore the early history that set the stage for today’s eco-faith movement. It’s a sobering examination.
NOTE: If you find the following information to be of value, please consider a donation by using the PayPal button on the right (tax receipts cannot be granted).
Global political and religious transformation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Neither does Christian intermingling with the forces of such change happen by chance. Therefore, in order to understand today’s eco-Christian context, we need to traipse into the not-so-distant past.
The intersection of representative Christianity and the modern environmental movement can be traced to the first Earth Day in 1970. In The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology we read,
“Earth Day that year was an important event for Americans in general, but especially for the churches. It not only raised awareness of the ecological crisis, but many of its promoters levelled blame for the mistreatment of nature at the Christian churches…
The criticism stung. Christians have always tended to assume that Christianity is on the side of the good. Clearly the massive degradation of the natural world was not good.”[i]
Already facing the negative reaction that accompanied Lynn White Jr.’s famous 1967 essay, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” a controversial piece that fingered Christianity as the primary cause of environmental degradation, church bodies found themselves scrambling to demonstrate ecological sensitivity. Christianity was at fault, came the message from noted academia, a now-vocal youth counterculture, and from the key Earth Day text handed out to school and university students across the United States and Canada – The Environmental Handbook. Christianity, therefore, needed to clean up its act and become part of the solution.
Although theological interest in ecology preceded this event,[ii] the first Earth Day was an important turning point. Leigh Eric Schmidt, writing for The Harvard Theological Review, provided a glimpse of the Christian response,
“The first Earth Day in 1970 provided an occasion within the churches for expressing concerns over the environmental crisis. Religious involvement in this ecological awakening was substantial. Both the president and the general secretary of the National Council of Churches endorsed Earth Day in mailings to church leaders in March 1970; they also encouraged the observance of an Environmental Sabbath…”[iii]
Today the “message of green” is firmly embedded within countless individual congregations. Indeed, it is difficult to find a church that don’t place some emphasis on environmental advocacy. This, however, was not the case during the 1970s.
Instead of local pulpits sermonizing on the environment, a present reality in much of the Western world, arguments for ecological “social change” was predominately restricted to upper-level settings; denominational governing bodies, seminaries, and ecclesiastical associations. It was in these circles where debate took place regarding Christian eco-responsibility, the “limits to growth,” land and resource usage, “wealth redistribution,” global interdependence, family planning and overpopulation, the role of government, and the ethics of capitalism. “Eco-justice” became a theme for deliberation and application. Such conversations were taking place within the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Canadian Council of Churches, the Church of the Brethren, Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church, the American Baptist Church and even the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church in America and Canada, and the Episcopal Church.[iv]
In the United States, the Episcopal denomination found itself on the cutting edge of spiritually-charged ecology. Although ridiculed by some within the broader Anglican Communion, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine – New York City’s Anglican flagship – was creating history by unabashedly blending mysticism, pantheism, and deep green with Episcopal traditions. Enter, James Park Morton.
In 1972, Morton became Dean of the Cathedral and surrounded himself with mystical and planetary thinkers such a Thomas Berry and William Irwin Thompson. Soon he met environmentalist and humanist philosopher René Dubos[v] of “think global, act local” fame. As Morton noted in a 1990 interview with In Context, “He [Dubos] was the one who really turned me upside down… I went through some very serious reconceptualizing of man’s relation to the Earth as it had been spelled out in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”[vi]
Morton, already involved in William Thompson’s Lindisfarne Association and the promotion of its New Age vision, worked hard to turn his church into a “Green Cathedral” – a “high place” in sync with planetary thought. Describing a Lent church service, Morton explained,
“I would say, ‘Let’s talk about the suffering of the Earth, the passion of water. Let’s talk about Jesus in Earth – God incarnate in the flesh of the Earth, the flesh of water, the flesh of the elements of creation and how that creation is suffering – the passion of the creation.’ And that was very effective.”[vii]
In 1979 the Cathedral held its first solar service, a “Sun Day Celebration.” That same year the Cathedral also hosted an environmental fair and a book signing for the release of James Lovelock’s now-famous work, Gaia. “We had the book party here at the cathedral,” Morton reflected in his interview, “and his first public exposition of the Gaia Hypothesis was from our pulpit.”[viii]
During Morton’s years as Dean his Cathedral did become a repository of planetary thought, providing physical space for the Gaia Institute, Lindisfarne’s educational programs, and temporarily housing the universalistic Temple of Understanding. The Cathedral also witnessed – and continues to engage in – a host of “progressive” activities, including interfaith worship services, “Gaia masses” (the first one took place in 1981), lectures on green spirituality, and it has been a rallying point for eco-politics. In 1985 the Cathedral held its first annual “Blessing of the Animals.”
So much was happening at Morton’s Cathedral that by 1994, former Special Assistant to President Reagan, Doug Bandow, wrote the following; “At times one wonders whether the formally Christian Cathedral retains an interest in Christian worship.”[ix]
“…the Cathedral has included Buddhist meditations, African chants, and other non-Christian worship practices in its services. Moreover, Morton has placed a live blue crab and other animals in an Earth Shrine in the church’s nave as ‘a symbol of ecotheology.’ He [said]… that the blessing of animals ‘is the profoundest kind of religious experience we can have’.”[x]
By then other Episcopal churches were starting to come around to Morton’s thinking. Bandow writes how one Anglican minster remarked; “…we are now beginning to see that Morton was a pioneer with the courage to challenge orthodoxy that was largely outdated.”[xi]
The decade of 1970s, however, are important to note for another faith factor. As denominations and leading congregations started to explore environmental themes, an informal yet important eco-theological courtship was taking place with other religions.
Interfaith encounters have long been a springboard for visions of action, communicating the desire for a harmonized and universalized existence. This was certainly the aspiration of the first great inter-religious event of the modernist era; Chicago’s 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions. Here, representatives from Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Theosophy, Judaism, Shintoism and Taoism interacted with spokesmen from Christianity, the dominant attending religion. From start to close, the Parliament called for the “Brotherhood of Religions” – the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man – the oneness of faiths within a united humanity; “The goal before is Paradise. Eden is to rise.”[xii]
Although the history of interfaithism is grounded in the first Chicago Parliament, with later advances through the World Congress of Faiths and Vatican II, it was the Temple of Understanding – birthed during the 1960s – that paved the way for connecting ecology and interfaith activity. By working together, the religions of the world could apply the principle of interdependence. The purpose of the Temple, according to its own literature, was to “achieve universal recognition of the underlying Oneness of the Family of Man.”[xiii]
Paradise could be restored if religions would put aside differences and bring collective power to bear on world issues. A “Spiritual United Nations,” aiding the political United Nations, could “endeavor to build a better human society.”[xiv]
The Temple of Understanding was the vision of Judith (Juliet) Hollister, a housewife in Greenwich, Connecticut, who, while enjoying peanut butter sandwiches with a friend, came up with the idea of housing the religions of the world in one location – a place for understanding and commonality. This thought turned into a meeting with the Assistant-Secretary of the Ford Foundation, William Nims, who encouraged Hollister to flesh out the idea. Soon after a surprise opportunity arose through an encounter with Eleanor Roosevelt’s cousin over a dinner party; Would she be willing to discuss this idea with the First Lady?
The following week, with architectural drawings in hand for a house of global faiths, the visit became a reality. Upon seeing the design Mr.s Roosevelt exclaimed, “This is very beautiful – a sort of spiritual United Nations. My dear, how can I help you with your dream?”[xv]
Armed with letters of introduction from Roosevelt, Hollister traveled around the globe meeting with religious and political leaders to see if support could be raised. The results were encouraging, including positive responses from UN Secretary-General U Thant and Henry Luce of Time-Life fame, and although the physical Temple was never constructed the organization was rapidly gaining influence. By 1968 the Temple hosted its first interfaith “Spiritual Summit” in Calcutta, thereby demonstrating that religions could cooperate with the totality of humanity in mind.
“What we have to recover is our original unity,” mystic Thomas Merton emphasized in his closing speech.[xvi]
Summit II took place in Geneva and brought together leaders from a multitude of religious persuasions. Dr. Eugene Blake, General Security of the World Council of Churches, was a participant. Other delegates were attached to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Non-Christians and the Church of England’s Council on Foreign Relations. The topic: Practical Measures for World Peace, with a sub-theme that broached the question of ecology – “The Population Problem.”
Summits III and IV, held at the Harvard Divinity School and Cornell University, explored issues of secularism and culture, and the building of a “World Community.” But it was at Summit V where interfaithism and deep-green intersected in a meaningful way.
Hosted by and housed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the Temple of Understanding’s fifth Spiritual Summit was extra special. From October 19-24, 1975, Summit V started with a “colorful and dramatic procession of about 200 religious dignitaries from all over the world.”[xvii] Then, over the week, four working panels tackled “The Unity of the Human Community,” “Ecology and the Spiritual Environment,” “Creating the Future Community,” and “Women, Religion and World Community.”
Margret Mead, the famous cultural anthropologist, gave the opening address and connected the protection of the atmosphere with our common human unity. Later, former astronaut Edgar Mitchell and other delegates debated the role of technology in relation to ecology and evolution. Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths and a member of the Temple of Understanding International Committee, recalls the acknowledgement that religious groups “needed to develop experts for advisory positions in practical matters of state and on political decisions.”[xviii]
But the best was saved for last. On Friday, October 24, Summit V closed by holding a gathering at the United Nations, thus forming a united voice of world faiths. This was an historic event as it was the first time in UN history that a combined religious delegation addressed the world political body. Meeting in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, this extraordinary session started with a meditation by Sri Chinmoy, Director of the UN Meditation Group. After some introductory speeches, UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim gave a briefing on the future of the United Nations. Toward the close of the UN-religions meeting, Jean Houston presented a Joint Statement calling for the UN to “consider the creation of an agency which will bring the much needed resources and inspirations of the spiritual traditions to the solution of world problems.”[xix]
The Joint Statement also announced that “the great religions and spiritual movements of our time stand ready to unite around their common spiritual and moral vision.”[xx] Human rights, the environment, and world peace were each noted as parts of a new morality and ethics.
In closing, Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast gave a blessing that recognized the sacredness of the UN as “a symbol of human concord, a symbol of the truth that this poor, mistreated earth belongs to all of us together.” The monk continued with a challenge. “As we stand, then like plants standing on a good plot of ground, let us sink our roots deep into our hidden unity…”[xxi]
One last Spiritual Summit took place before the Temple of Understanding transitioned with the times. Summit VI, held jointly in Morton’s Cathedral and the Church Centre across from the United Nations, took place in October 1984. This gathering of spiritual leaders, claiming to represent “over one-half of the Earth’s population,” met to consider and support a document drafted by Robert Muller, then UN Assistant Secretary-General. Muller read his draft text, a Declaration of Oneness for the Human Family, to the Summit delegates. This Declaration promoted the “convergence of world religions towards a Global Spirituality,” “social justice,” and the need for World Religions “to bear upon the solution of world problems.” Interdependence in the “total order of things” was pressed home: “The Evolutionary task of human life and society to move through the eternal stream of time towards interdependence, communion, and an ever expanding realization of Divinity.”[xxii]
The Temple of Understanding recognized the ecological importance of Summit VI; that it helped to “develop this awareness of the earth as a living being; just as the trees and plants have a consciousness, so does the earth.”
The result: “[A] new way of looking at the relationship between faith traditions and ecology began to develop.”
During the mid-to-late 1980s, a series of groundbreaking events transpired that would embed Christendom within a burgeoning planetary eco-political and spiritual system. These events included the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders, both of which leveraged Christian influence to promote a fundamentally socialist and pagan idea of planetary oneness and world management.
Another event of importance was the 1986 creation of the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, a group formed under the umbrella of the United Nations Environment Programme. The purpose of the IPE was straightforward: “to inform North American congregations about the serious environmental problems facing life on Earth.”[xxiii] To that end, the IPE launched the North American Environmental Sabbath project with board members from the American Baptist Churches USA, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church. The board was also made up of delegates from other religions, including Islam, the Bahai faith, Tibetan Buddhism, and Judaism. And James Park Morton of “Green Cathedral” fame was also part of the group.
In 1989, Noel Brown, then chairman of UNEP and head of the Environmental Sabbath Planning Committee, met with the Los Angeles Interfaith Council. His remarks were telling.
“Now we need to work more closely with the religious and spiritual community. We need to create an ecumenical movement – I call it an ‘eco-menical’ movement – in the service of the Earth. It’s time for us to think again, and to think anew… One of the new metaphors that I am eager to produce and promote is that of a covenant – a new covenant with the Earth. You in the religious communities can help us do that… That is the challenge facing all of us, and that is the challenge to which I ask you to work with us as allies. We can create a new order, and if we are to survive, indeed we must.”[xxiv]
Only a few months later the IPE Environmental Sabbath worship kit was ready and distributed to 25,000 congregations across the United States. Only One Earth invited the religious faithful to organize interfaith groups around environmental issues, write letters urging denominational leaders to take action, and suggested sermon ideas for pastors who wished to inject “green” into corporate worship. One idea was to “invite guest speakers or ‘representatives’ from other species, i.e. plants and animals.”[xxv] By the year 2000, over 130,000 environmental projects could be traced back to the work of the IPE and its Environmental Sabbath.[xxvi]
Today, in 2015, we can bear witness to the inroads made by earlier interfaith partnerships and green alliances. And while the Spiritual Summits of the 1970s and 1980s, and the IPE Environmental Sabbath, have quietly faded into obscurity, much of Christendom has been taken with the cause. But as noted in the beginning of this article, our current intermingling with the politics and spirituality of “green” didn’t arise by chance or emerge from a vacuum. Instead, the ripples created by Christian leaders diving into the waters of “global green” decades past have spread far and wide, rising and growing into waves that now wash over ever community and impact every Christian. ■
[i] Paul Santmire and John B. Cobb Jr., “The World of Nature According to the Protestant Tradition,” The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp.132-133.
[ii] Two examples: 1) See Joseph Sittler’s “Called to Unity” speech given at the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, November 21, 1961, in New Delhi, India. It should be noted that Sittler, a Lutheran theologian who called for a “theology for the earth,” and a handful of other professors and philosophers, were exploring Christian-religious-ecological ideas in the late 1940s and 1950s. 2) By the mid-1960s an association was formed under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches. Known as the Faith-Man-Nature Group, this body of theologians, philosophers and scientists convened annual meetings and published reports such as, Christians and the Good Earth, A New Ethic for a New Earth, and Religious Reconstruction for the Environmental Future (this report was funded by the US Department of Education).
[iii] Leigh Eric Schmidt, “From Arbor Day to the Environmental Sabbath: Nature, Liturgy, and American Protestantism,” The Harvard Theological Review, Volume 84, Number 31, July 1991, pp.317-318.
[iv] Consider a few examples. The American Baptist Church 1977 Policy Statement on Energy, which reads in part, “No country can live for itself. We must cooperate with each other. Cooperation by definition connotes interdependence, a recognition by all of us that we share global responsibility for the stewardship of resources and justice for humanity.” The Southern Baptist Convention 1974 Resolution on Stewardship of God’s Creation, “…we urge Congress and concerned governmental agencies to take aggressive action to conserve our diminishing resources.” The Canadian Council of Churches 1973 report, Whose Man? Whose Resources?, “…a strong argument can be made for community ownership of all land…” At the 1975 gathering of the World Council of Churches, biologist Charles Birch explained, “A prior requirement of any global society is that it be so organized that human life and other living creatures on which human life depends can be sustained indefinitely within the limits of the Earth. A second requirement is that it be sustained at a quality that makes possible fulfillment of human life for all people. A society so organized to achieve both these ends we can call a sustainable global society… with a new sort of science and technology governed by a new sort of economics and politics.” (quoted by Dieter t. Hellel, “Eco-Justice Ethics: A Brief Overview,” The World’s Religions: A Contemporary Reader, published by Fortress Press, 2011, pp.184-185).
[v] Rene Dubos was a noted microbiologist who spent the bulk of his professional career at the Rockefeller Institute and Rockefeller University. He wrote numerous books and his So Human An Animal (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968) received the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction. Only One Earth (W.W. Norton, 1972), co-authored with Barbara Ward, suggested a “planetary order” and “planetary interdependence,” closing with the call for “an ultimate loyalty to our single, beautiful, and vulnerable planet Earth” (p.220, second last paragraph).
[vi] Alan AtKisson interviews James Parks Morton, “The Green Cathedral,” In Context: A Quarterly of Human Sustainable Culture, Winter 1990. This article can now be read online at http://www.context.org/iclib/ic24/morton (Accessed January 28, 2014).
[ix] Doug Bandow, The Politics of Envy: Statism as Theology (Transaction Publishers, 1994), p.55.
[x] Ibid., p.55.
[xi] Ibid., p.55.
[xii] Speech of Emil Gustav Hirsch, “Elements of Universal Religion,” The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World’s Parliament of Religions (Open Court, 1993), p.224.
[xiii] The Temple of Understanding (1982 Temple brochure), introductory page.
[xiv] Ibid., p.3.
[xv] Marcus Braybrooke, Pilgrimage of Hope: One Hundred Years of Global Interfaith Dialogue (SCM Press, 1992), p.94.
[xvi] The Temple of Understanding (1982 Temple brochure), p.11.
[xvii] Ibid., p.11.
[xviii] Braybrooke, Pilgrimage of Hope, p.101.
[xix] Ibid., p.102.
[xx] Ibid., p.107.
[xxi] Ibid., p.107.
[xxii] Temple of Understanding website; http://www.templeofunderstanding.org/wwa_Faith_Ecology.html. Note: this site has now changed. The quoted text comes from the July 25, 2009 screenshot.
[xxiii] Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, UNEP, at http://www.unep.org/newyork/interfaithpartnershipfortheenvironment/tabid/56210/default.aspx (Accessed March 5, 2014).
[xxv] See, Only One Earth (UNEP, 1990), note that no page numbers exist in the document. The idea of species representation is found on the second page of “Suggestions for the Celebration.”
[xxvi] Letter by John J. Kirk, co-founder of the IPE, as reprinted in Only One Earth: A Book of Reflection for Action (UNEP/Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, 2000), p.5. This version of Only One Earth was a remake of the 1990 edition.
As socialist visionary, Scott Nearing, said in his 1944 book United World; “A world society cannot be haphazard… It can only be deliberative and experimental, planned and built up with particular objectives and with the aid of all available knowledge concerning the principles of social organization.”
Your world is changing, and each year, in an effort to understand the transformation taking place during the next 12 months, Forcing Change publishes a “Global Calendar of Events.” The purpose of this calendar is simple: Shed light on events planned for the new year, and how those activities speak to the idea of a “united world.” Like other “new year” calendars put together by Forcing Change, this one lists dates and places, and provides some context to help you understand how the event plays into the theme of world transformation.
This year, 55 listings from around the world make up the Forcing Change “Global Calendar of Events.” If you have a subscription membership to Forcing Change, log in and download the complete edition today. For everyone else, here’s a little teaser – a handful of events to watch for in this new year. Note: Some information, such as the development of the Post-2015 Agenda, is more fully explained in the complete calendar.
Where: Paris, France.
March 25-27: Dresden Nexus Conference.
Where: Dresden, Germany.
Nexus is a United Nations-linked conference on finding and managing, through an international approach, the connections between world-wide environmental concerns, global governance and global change, and engineering natural resource use for sustainable development. Three interlocking themes will be considered in light of resource management and governance; Climate Change, Urbanization, and Population Growth. As this will be a technical-oriented event, anticipated outcomes include a consensus on management practices and documentation processes, identifying policy objectives and research priorities, finding ways to advance the global “green economy,” and developing applicable strategies through the Nexus approach. Nexus is jointly organized by the United Nations University, Technische Universitat Dresden, and the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development. Event stakeholders include UNESCO and its Institute for Water Education, the Secretariat’s office of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Habitat, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the UN Industrial Development Organization, various branches within the UN University system, the International Water Management Institute, the Global Water Partnership, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, along with numerous university bodies and research institutes, and German governmental agencies.
May 10-12: Council of Councils Annual Conference.
Where: Washington DC.
Since its inauguration, the annual meeting of the CoC has strongly focused on global governance issues, including climate change agendas, world internet management, the Euro crisis and global economic instability, international security concerns (including the role of NATO), Arctic diplomacy, and regional actors for world order. Although the agenda for the 2015 annual meeting has not been published at the time of writing this entry, it would not be unreasonable to expect the Washington CoC event to include talks on the UN Post-2015 agenda, the upcoming negotiations on a new climate treaty, and concerns regarding the Middle East and Europe/ Russian affairs.
May 28-31: Building the New Order Conference.
Where: Radford, Virginia.
Hosted by Radford University, this event will work to model and explore global oneness. According to the organizers, “in order to ‘Build the New World,’ humanity must quickly shift from imperialism to social democracy, from materialism to altruism, from a global war-system to a worldwide peace-system, from unsustainable environmental destruction to resilient organic networks, and from religious separation to the redeeming state of spiritual unity. We must move from fragmentation to holism … and fast!” Working sessions will take place on the role of education, spirituality and religion, global law, technology, economics, culture, and peace-building; “…the vision of creating an integrated future will not end when the conference is over. Rather, the intent is to actually manifest the world which we seek! To that end, another goal of this conference is to establish an on-going transformative network that will continue to support our plans for building a glorious 21st Century.”
Sponsors include the World Constitution and Parliament Association (advocates for world government), Prout International, Oracle Institute, The Shift Network, and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
July 7-10: Our Common Future Under Climate Change.
Where: Paris, France.
UNESCO and the International Council for Science and Future Earth, are hosting a large scientific conference on climate change and global governance. Four daily themes will be explored; 1) State of Knowledge on Climate Change, 2) Scenarios Exploring Our Common Future, 3) Responding to Climate Change Challenges, 4) Collective Action and Transformative Solutions.
July 26-31: Our Transhuman Futures: Transhuman Juniata.
Where: Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
“To be human is to evolve.” So says the website for the Our Transhuman Futures conference, sponsored by Juniata Colleg. This event will explore self-directed human evolution through technology and science. Discussions will take place on human-robot interactions, cognitive enhancements, and social/religious/political issues concerning transhumanism.
September 25-27: UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Where: UN Headquarters, New York, NY.
Heads-of-state and high governmental officials will be meeting with UN leaders to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a more robust replacement for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which officially comes to a close at the end of the year. In June 2014, the UN Committee for Development Policy issued a report titled Global Governance and Global Rules for Development in the Post-2015 Era, linking the Post-2015 poverty reduction goals, educational and health targets, within the framework of global governance. Indeed, the MDGs are supposed to be replaced with universally applicable and binding SDGs, “Sustainable Development Goals,” including security and peace processes.
The UN System Task Team report, A Renewed Global Partnership for Development, in considering the Post-2015 system, hinted at the universal approach being pursued.
“A renewed partnership for sustainable development will require universal commitments from developed and developing countries across the various goals that become part of the agenda. Such a universal agenda should help to facilitate collective action to address the problems of an increasingly interconnected world.”
October 1-4: Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy and Religion.
Where: Thessaloniki, Greece.
Sponsored by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantine, Bartholomew I, this invite-only event will bring-to-the-table chief diplomats and leading politicians, authors, faith representatives, and academic figures to discuss the role of interfaithism and “unity of faiths” as a primary vehicle for securing world peace.
October 15-19: Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah.
The first Parliament occurred in Chicago back in 1893. It took one hundreds before the second Parliament happened, again in Chicago. But from 1993 until now there has been a Parliament in 1999 (Cape Town, South Africa), 2004 (Barcelona, Spain), 2007 (Monterrey, Mexico), and 2009 (Melbourne, Australia). In 2015, the next Parliament will happen in Salt Lake City, bringing thousands of faith leaders and activists to Utah for this massive interfaith gathering.
November 30 to December 11: United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Where: Paris, France.
Negotiators from national governments, the United Nations and European Union, will meet to adopt a new UN climate agreement now that the Kyoto Protocol has expired. Sections of the first draft have already been circulated, and it is anticipated that by May 2015, the full text will be available for review. This agreement is being referred to, in a favorable way by the European Union, as a “single comprehensive regime.” Many environmental lobby groups and non- governmental organizations are and will add pressure to make this agreement globally binding. At the same time, there are major cracks in the Climate Change foundation, and the Paris conference could end in debacle. Although this is not what the UN wants, the possibility that the event could end in impotence is already being considered by some environmental activists, with suggestions that the ensuing political fallout may open doors to push for an even stronger global commitment.
To read all 55 “global calendar” entries, sign in as a member/subscriber and download the December 2014 issue of Forcing Change magazine.
The last month of 2014 was busy but very good; a time to meet new friends, and re-connect with family and long time friends. Here’s the breakdown of what transpired in December with Forcing Change (www.forcingchange.org), the online publication and platform I work with, and the Teichrib household – including some traipsing through the woods, fires on ice, and other general stuff…
– The first few days of December were spent in the Dallas, TX, area where I gave an hour-and-a-half presentation at a conference. Besides the time spent at the lectern, the other highlight was interacting with so many people; face-to-face meetings with folks I had previously connected with online, re-connecting with friends from other parts of the continent, and developing new acquaintances.
– The last 2014 edition of Forcing Change was wrapped up; a “Global Calendar of Events” outlining 55 events aimed at global political, economic, social and spiritual transformation – the continuing quest for “one world.”
– Spent time marking 38 essays from the course I taught at Millar College of the Bible in early November. The title of my modular course: “Secular Trends.” Students who took the class had to write an essay on some topic that fit with the general topic or tackled a specific area that we touched on as a group. Thus, essays hit on everything from Humanist manifestos to notable personalities to transhumanism to evolutionary culture.
– Wrapped up an editorial job for Hope For The World Update, the quarterly newsletter of author Gary Kah. Since 1997 I’ve been involved in pulling together the initial editorial selections for Gary’s publication, placing an amalgamation of articles and entries into their hands for consideration and possible use.
– Radio/TV shows: I was on one radio program in December, The Janet Mefferd Show. Although I had been on Janet’s program before, what made this show especially exciting for myself was that it took place in-studio. Just before I was to travel to Dallas for the conference, Janet’s producer contacted me about doing a show via telephone. I explained, however, that I couldn’t participate due to the fact that I’d be in Dallas when the show aired. “We’re in Dallas,” came the reply. Well, that changed everything! Little did I know, Janet’s studio was only a two minute drive from my hotel…
That same week, in Dallas, I had the opportunity of doing an interview with Zola TV for Zola Levitt Presents. The interview, about 15 minutes long, is to be aired sometime in 2015.
– One of our highlights as a family was that Scott, our son, returned from working on the railway tracks after a long and hard season. What’s more, he planned on arriving home without telling us. So, late one evening while Leanne, Austin and I were watching a movie in the basement, we heard some rustling upstairs. I ran up to see what was going on, thinking it was the cat at the door, and lo-and-behold, there was Scott! Much cheering and jumping followed.
– Before, during, and after Christmas was spent with family and friends; playing games, eating and visiting, and opening gifts. Christmas at my father’s farm was spent on the river with the kids skating and two huge fires on the ice at night. Lots of fun, but even after two months of sub-zero temperatures, we had to watch for soft spots where the river is shallow and fast. And yes, Dad fell through up to his hip in one place. While at the in-laws we enjoyed a rousing game of Christmas charades, good visits, and fantastic food.
– Christmas eve was a special evening. As a family we decided to walk the trails through some heavily wooded property and hike along the river ice. The weather was fantastic; just a bit below freezing, and the forest was silent – except for our laughter, joking, and the sounds of exploring in the trees and snow.
– Leanne, Scott and Austin participated in our church’s Christmas concert. All three are blessed with the ability to sing, and each enjoyed being part of the choir and ensemble. Me? I know what I can’t do, and I know what’s possible – so I sat in the pew and enjoyed the evening.
Only two short books read in December: 1) Mark Clifton, Eight Keys to Eden (Doubleday, 1960), 2) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990/1991).