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Mary Faulkner and the potluck of women's spirituality

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When people ask Mary Faulkner about her religious practice, she says, “I tell them I’m a Canaanite. They look at me kind of funny at first, but most of the time, they figure it has something to do with the indigenous people of the Middle East.”

Canaanites were the ancient people of Israel who worshipped the Mother Goddess Ashera for thousands of years before a Father God emerged. (When that happened, Ahera became known as “the lost bride of Yahweh.”)

“I would root myself in that tradition,” states Faulkner, a psychotherapist who said she stopped identifying as a practicing Catholic many years ago because of the women’s ordination issue. “I decided they’d just have to get along without me,” she said cheerfully during a recent phone conversation from her Nashville, Tennessee home.

The topic of our interview was her third and latest book, Women’s Spirituality: Power and Grace.

Tilling and instilling

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Read the full story at the Catholic Voice of the Omaha archdiocese about Fr. Wayne Pavela and his 8 acre garden, where he harvests produce for the needy in the archdiocese.

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Seeds, a garden rake and eight acres.

Those are Father Wayne Pavela's building blocks each year as he grows bushels of fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, grapes and apples - and then gives it all away to the needy of the archdiocese.

"He brings us quite a bit," said Patsy Konecky, store manager of food pantry and secondhand store the Simon House in Columbus, which is affiliated with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. "He's brought me radishes and garden lettuce. He's a very generous man."

'Cool congregations': The Interfaith Power & Light story, part 2

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Energy Audits and Portfolio Management

For a number of years, when a congregation joined Michigan Interfaith Power & Light (MiIPL), we provided an energy assessment of their facility conducted by a professional. The congregation now had a baseline that indicated how well their facility was performing in its energy use compared to other buildings from a similar climate and similar use.

We would provide both the report and an evening of energy education to the congregational staff and members that shared where their “low-hanging fruit” lies.

MiIPL and other IPLs across the country have partnered with EPA’s ENERGY STAR® for Congregations program [www.energystar.gov/congregations] in making ENERGY STAR’s Workbook for Congregations available to members. There is a wonderful manual at the ENERGY STAR for Congregations website, Putting Energy Into Stewardship, that is invaluable for congregations who are committed to lowering their use of fossil fuel energy.

A weekly message from your local hens

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I had lunch last week with Holy Cross Br. David Andrews, who is former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and now a representative at Washington-based Food and Water Watch. He was in Kansas City for a meeting of a sustainable agriculture group he’s affiliated with, held the day before a big Farm Aid concert that featured performers Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Dave and I talked about many things,including a look back over the last 20 years or so, at how the organic and local food movements have transformed our entire food system in America and around the world.

I told him about the Kansas City Food Circle, our own local “locavore” movement.

My wife and I helped put together the very first conference back in the early 1990s. Together we baked about 12 quiches and made tabouli for the lunch that was served that day. Attendance was about 25. Later that year we published our first local food directory, making available information about where and how to buy from local farmers. The directory took up both sides of one page.

'Cool congregations': The Interfaith Power & Light story, part 1

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In a special Earth Day, 2000, edition of Time Magazine, I came across an article on the Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest serving Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She, in partnership with Steve MacAusland, had founded Episcopal Power & Light. Episcopal Power & Light represented a coalition of Episcopal congregations that had purchased green power. Episcopal Power & Light soon became California Interfaith Power & Light with the participation in the collaborative of congregations from other Christian denominations and Jewish synagogues. The Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) movement has spread across the country where now 38 states and the District of Columbia have recognized IPLs.

'Preach the truth as if you had a million voices' -- a Protestant's encounter with Catherine of Siena

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“Preach the truth as if you had a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.”

Catherine of Siena spoke these words of advice to her 14th century contemporaries who were weary of the violence and cruelty going on around them. Hundreds of years later, the “bad times” scenario continues on every front. But environmentalists, peacemakers and social justice advocates cannot afford to cave in to despair, as tempting as that might be. We need to be those millions of voices now more than ever.

One of those voices is Tim Ahrens. This past week, Ahrens, a Protestant minister from Columbus, Ohio, reminded us of Catherine’s timeless words in an article he wrote on the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good’s web site. Ahrens, senior minister at the First Congregational Church here, and an active member of BREAD, a social justice advocacy group made up of 52 local churches, synagogues and mosques, recently made a two-year commitment as a Dominican Associate with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The sisters’ motherhouse is located in Columbus.

Green pioneers, organized by a Dominican sister, transform a town

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Nearly 1,000 households in the rural community of Springfield, Kentucky, have become earth healers. And they want the world passing by their doorsteps to know what they’re up to.

So they’ve decorated their mailboxes with vibrantly colored decals announcing that “we are proud to be a Green Pioneer Home.”

Green Pioneers have pledged to incorporate eight simple, doable, sustainable living practices into their lives. The working list, which they sign onto, from a Web site, has 17 activities to choose from. People can recycle, use compact fluorescent bulbs and reusable shopping bags. They can grow some of their own food, use natural cleaning products, give their car a Sabbath day off once a week and stop buying bottled water. They can incorporate a prayer practice such as mindfulness, silent time, and meatless meals into their lives.

'Subdued by what we conquered': Pope Benedict's understanding of nature disappointingly inert

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By David DeCosse
David DeCosse is director of campus ethics programs at Santa Clara University in California.

The whale flashed its bulk, like an island in the brilliant sun. The wind whipped away the spray from the spout in a steady gust. I watched in joy and awe from the bluff trail as the majestic, shimmering creature — no more than a half-mile offshore — pushed north through the white froth in submerged, half-hidden power.

I treasure that recent moment on the Central Coast of California because it points to what the American writer Wallace Stegner has called nature’s capacity for bringing “spiritual renewal, the recognition of identity, the birth of awe.” I also recall that moment because it points to a profound flaw in the green theology of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

In short, there’s too little room for the dynamic power of the whale in the contemplative sea that is Benedict’s view of nature.

Richard Rohr and the 12 Steps: Going out to 'the inner room'

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BREATHING UNDER WATER
SPIRITUALITY AND THE TWELVE STEPS
By Richard Rohr
Published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, $15.99

A quarter century ago, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr gave a series of talks in Cincinnati that linked the wisdom of the Twelve Steps Program to what St. Francis called “the marrow of the gospel.” “I was amazed at how obvious and easy a task it was,” he said.

Now he’s updated those talks in his new book. Breathing Under Water.

He reflects about his earliest experiences with such programs, when "the people dealing with their addictions in the church basement thought they had left the church for the Wednesay night meetings in the basement, while many upstairs in the sanctuary presumed that their ‘higher’ concerns were something different from ‘those people with problems’ down below."

The reality, he says, was that we were dealing with a common inspiration from the Holy Spirit and from the collective unconscious of the human race.

How Christian and secular ecologists have moved from criticism to common ground

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Fr. Bud Grant's regular column on the National Catholic Rural Life Network Web site discusses the relationship between Christian and secular ecologists over the last half century.

"Secular ecologists," he writes, "have long been suspicious of Christianity. It is worth explaining why people of faith have been mistrusted by environmentalists and from there to locate the common ground that can be used to overcome that wariness for the sake of advancing our common objectives.... The most famous accusation made against Christianity was thrown by historian Lynn White Jr. in 1967 with a bombshell article in Science Magazine. He makes a succinct charge: The 'subdue and dominate' language of Genesis 1:27 'established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.' Christian focus on the spiritual world means we insist on 'transcendence of and mastery over nature.' 'Christianity,' he adds, 'bears a huge burden of guilt.' Ouch."

Read Fr. Grant's entire article on the Web site. It's a very interesting discussion on important issues in religion and ecology.

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September 12-25, 2014

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