Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spiritual Leaders

Joel Connelly, columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer writes about the spiritual leadership of the Dalai Lama and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. He asks how their vision might stem the tide of consumerism, violence, and global warming in our day:
The Dalai Lama will find himself lionized, praised, honored and listened to with reverence during his upcoming visit to the Emerald City.

The man's message, however, is likely to be ignored.

"Cultural genocide" in Tibet, as the Dalai Lama aptly describes it, hasn't caused a moment's pause in the courtship of China by our business and political leaders. A lust for commerce trumps the evils of Communism.

The upcoming comings and goings of religious leaders -- Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori hits Seattle on Wednesday, and Pope Benedict XVI visits the East Coast next week -- underscores how hard it is to find a role for global ethics in this era of "globalism."

We start with a consumer society, fed by a ruthless new global economy that lays waste to land and people and fuels consumption and lavish temples to wealth.

He writes of the upcoming Healing our Planet Earth: Singing a New Song of Hope conference in the Seattle area:
Schori is, in a sense, returning home with her Seattle trip. She was raised in Lake City, converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church with her family and was an oceanographer before receiving a call to the priesthood. She has climbed 9,415-foot Mount Stuart.

She is here for the kind of event that represents renewal to many in her flock, while others see invasive secular issues capturing the church.

It's a national conference titled "Healing Our Planet Earth: Singing a New Song of Hope."

Schori is not hesitant to embrace science, even linking it to revelation.

"As an oceanographer, I practiced a discipline that understands that no life form can be studied in isolation from its surroundings: As a Christian, I continue to practice a discipline that understands that God created all beings to live in relationship with each other and the rest of creation," she said in a written statement.

"Science has revealed to us unequivocally that climate change and global warming are real, and caused in significant party by human activity.

"These changes are a threat not only to the goodness of God's creation but to all of humanity."

The conference will hear from the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a seminary dean and former Alaska bishop who heralds "The Genesis Covenant."

The covenant is an interfaith effort that calls on religious communities to make a "public commitment" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent in the next 10 years.

Not even our solemn, secular greens -- the Sightline Institute and Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club -- dare talk of such an ambitious goal.

Read more here.

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