Friday, January 15, 2010

The Pope and I agree on being green.

The Pope and I finally have something that we agree on. Being Green is our spiritual duty. I have always thought that much of the Catholic rhetoric has been divisive. But because of the Pope's urging of Green consciousness and recent green dialogue, I feel that I can sit at the same table with him and get something positive done. If all faiths came together and agreed to honor this creation, Earth, I believe we'd reverse global warming and, in the process, find the commonality in our societies different faiths. We'd also be putting our faiths into action (do not judge...?) and we'd be doing a little god-like creating ourselves. How about a Utopian co-existence, and clean air and water for our children. Count me in. Let's get started.

I belong to a Science of Mind church. Our belief is that there is one God. And we don't moralize what we call God; Him... Her... Universe... Martini... And we don't care if you don't want to call "it" anything or believe that there is a God at all. We believe that everyone is part of this God, so every individual is perfect in our God's eyes. That means that we are all the same, whether it looks like it or not, or whether you believe that or not--so we appreciate and try to remember that daily. Pretty neat, huh?

But, just like many churches, the people of my congregation have been attending services and classes where we learn how to be better individual spiritual persons and then we take the teachings and try and work them into our daily lives.

There are a few Ministries in our church, like the Animal Ministry, that actively puts to use what they've learned within the community and out. The Animal Ministry serves the "outside" community at-large by collecting funds and donated items and disperses them to needy animal shelters in our area. And they do their own brand of spiritual prayer treatments for pets and their owners and have parishioners sign petitions for better laws for treatment of animals. (I just set up a FaceBook group page, ANIMAL MINISTRY, for them.) I like this ministry because it practices "faith into action," and it allows members and non-members alike to practice our spiritual principals.

But, like many churches, temples, and synagogues etc, I believe my church has been coming up short on the spiritual message to actual action where it concerns being green. Up to now we have not been walking the talk, or actually doing what we preach. Our new-thought and ancient-wisdom has taught me that we humans are stewards of this Mother Earth and we here to take care of this planet, ourselves, and all of Earth's inhabitant, human and non-human alike. But we have not fully made the connection that to change laws which protect our children from drinking tainted water or making sure that we all have clean air in the future is actually spiritual practice and not necessarily politics. We say we should love our fellow man and take car of our bodies but we have continued to buy energy wasting light bulbs in our church and we still use Styrofoam cups and we still buy bleached white paper towels, all of which adds Co2 into the air.

My spirituality says this human existence is the manifestation of our collective spirituality. This is our world. We made it this way. So when are we going to collectively going to make this world of form the beautiful place we desire it to be? It will take everyone to do it. Christians, Jews, Muslims.... The Pope is just one more dude realizing that we got to come together.

Look, I know all churches are worried about the dollars to keep our doors open. How do we get more people to attend church? How can we empower our congregation to be better people? But I don't think that we should have to worry about the bottom line. We should let God do that. I also believe we can attract people and empower ourselves by putting our faith into action. Here's an example:

There is a Rabbi Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation. He and his core council had a choice when their old building was no longer big enough to hold the growing congregation. Either they had to tear down and build a bigger building on the igniting site, or move and buy or build another larger Temple elsewhere. Sometime and somewhere along the way of deciding, Rabbi Rosen had a spiritual epiphany. He had caught the "Green bug." Rabbi Rosen realized that being green and being a steward of this earth was a spiritual edict of his own religion.
By studying the Jewish principle of Bal Tashchit, which appears in biblical text as well as in later rabbinic interpretation, he gleaned that a Jewish environmental ethic teaches "do not destroy or waste."
"God led Adam around the Garden of Eden and said, ‘Look at My works. See how beautiful they are, how excellent. See to it that you do not spoil or destroy My world — for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.’" (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13)

Rabbi Rosen and his core council decided to stay on the same site, tear down the existing building, recycle the demolition, and then make the new building the very first LEEDS Synagogue. Of course, this was going to take millions more to do this than had they only decided to tear down and build traditionally in this bad economy.
Well, today he preaches that the money for the tear down and build-out for their new building came easier and faster because they chose to go green. The money poured in because they chose spiritual over practical or traditional. Faith and spirit won. Fear lost.
The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation is a beacon of faith into action and attracts followers, admirers and has shown the religious communities that being green is the way to go. I'm definitely an admirer.
If you'd like a tour of the now famous LEEDS certified Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation:
303 Dodge Avenue Evanston, Illinois 60202-3252
Phone 847-328-7678

Every congregation has to have a pastor or priest or rabbi that gets nipped by the Green Bug. Then the blessings can start happening in our temples, synagogues, churches and mosques. And may that good fortune happen for all of us who run green groups in our churches. Maybe now with the Pope on board it's going to get a little easier to make the connection that this earth and we humans are spiritually connected. (Did you see Avatar?) I never thought I'd say this, but thanks, Pope. I look forward to working with you on this one. Maybe we'll find some other things to work on together. Solar Energy? Feeding the worlds poor? And maybe by working together I'll find out that you aren't so divisive and maybe you won't think I'm so bad and that I'm one of God's treasures just the way I am.

I am the leader of The Green Ministry at Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago. WE are GREEN and we are Getting better at it, every day. And we belong to Faith in Place, an interfaith group of like-minded green organizations in different churches, synagogues and temples etc in the greater Chicago Area.

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