October update

Welcome to the October update for the Digital Storytelling and the Earth project.

I’ve been thinking about water a lot. In the midst of the various violent conflicts around the world, having access to clean water is an urgent life or death matter. I pray that we find ways to engage these conflicts that keep our humanity intact and meet the justice and peace commitments our faiths hold.

Here at home we’ve been in extreme drought for the last few months in Minnesota, and it was only in the last two weeks that we started to get some real rain to mitigate it. We still are below normal rain levels, but who knows what might be typical in the future? Finding ways to care about water resources, and to learn about water locally, is urgent.

I’ve been impressed by the work of
Growing Green Hearts (a project of Heidi Ferris, who is an environmental educator currently pursuing her PhD). With funding support from the Capitol Region watershed district, she led the writing of “Wade in the Water: A curriculum for community” that helps local churches to do education about water resources across various age groupings. There’s something for just about everyone in this curriculum, and you can download it for free. You can also see some of the digital stories created by young people about “water where we live” at YouTube.

Things have slowed down quite a bit for my research workshops. Lots of initial interest in holding workshops has become “let’s try it later in the winter or spring.” I get it — pastoral leaders have so many things on their plates these days, and it can seem impossible to add one more thing, even when I’m helping with the organizing.

So October workshops have been pushed into November, and then we look at December beyond that. For those of you in the metro Twin Cities area, it looks like I’ll have a workshop on December 9th that will be open to people beyond the church who is hosting it. Save the date if you’re interested, and please share my project website and its contact form with anyone you think would like to know more.

In the meantime, here are a few other resources from beyond this project that you might enjoy:

Students at Augsburg University spent a semester living “otherwise” on the Mississippi and following it from its headwaters down to its outflow into the Gulf of Mexico. They learned about living simply in community, and about cherishing the earth as they lived more closely in relationship with it. You can hear about their journey at YouTube.

For the more scholarly amongst us, there is an issue of the Journal of Moral Theology available online for free that focuses on the Pope’s Laudato Si’ encyclical (subtitled “care for our common home.”

And then there is the Pope’s very recent apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum (subtitled “to all people of good will on the climate crisis”), which follows on Laudato Si’ (eight years later), published on October 4, 2023.

Finally, here are a couple of photos I’ve taken recently as I walk in our neighborhood. They remind me of God’s amazing abundance and the beauty the land can hold, even in the midst of all of the brokenness and tragedy unfolding around us.