Saturday, June 23, 2007

One Song at a Time

This post is inspired by the song
'Better People'
by Australian performer Xavier Rudd whose lyrics raise the vital issues of ecological and social care. Rudd calls his latest CD, White Moth, 'my proudest work' and the video and lyrics reflect his ethic to change the world. The video clip starts with images of the murderous whale hunt by the Japanese, depicts giant trees in threatened wild forests, and explores global suffering from all sorts of angles. In an era of suffering of both humanity and planet, voices like Xavier Rudd's and that of John Butler raise our collective consciousness and hopefully make this place a better world.

It rained last night. All night. The river valley was grey in the drizzle but the undergrowth was alive with the darting and chirping of tiny birds as they chased each other through the scrub, relishing in play and one of the few times this year it has rained. It was as if the place was becoming slowly alive in the dampness. The birds knew it.

People, when they meet each other, now comment on the coming of rain as something special, unusual, whereas rain in Brisbane is normally a frequent event. But not this year.

On the way home I met the priest at the local Anglican church near the river. She told me about how they are becoming more aware of ecological concerns and are trying to become more environmentally-friendly. The parish is installing water tanks and wants dual flush toilets. It has taken mainstream religions in Australia some time to join these ecological changes but the urgency of the water crisis has galvanised action. The Uniting and Catholic Churches are carrying out environmental audits, and a few years ago, the Catholic Church initiated Catholic Earthcare Australia, (2002) with the intention 'to mobilize its congregation - representing one-quarter of the Australian population - on environmental issues'.

Caring for creation is definitely on the agenda of the Australian National Counci of Churches, which through its 'Decade to Overcome Violence' is raising concerns about ecological violence alongside demands for peace and justice.

In the US, things have moved faster. But, at least initially, the relationship between mainstream religion and ecology seemed to be an individual rather than an institutional affair as people like Thomas Berry, Paul Santmire, Matthew Fox, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sallie Mcfague, Mary Tucker and other luninaries laid the groundwork for changing community attitudes.

Then the institutions got involved - and some campaigns have been both innovative and successful. In 2002-2003, the Evangelical Environment Network (EEN) flushed some American TV stations with ads asking: 'What car would Jesus drive?'. Hopefully he might walk or ride a bike, but practically, a small environmentally-sensitive vehicle. EEN believes that environmental problems are moral and spiritual problems, and making a decision about which car to drive is essentially a moral decision.

Living as if the earth matters. This vital ethical approach has been a feature of ecophilosophies and ecospiritualities such as Paganism, Druidry and Goddess worship through sacred nature religion practice, as well as deep ecology and spiritual-ecofemininsm. Bron Taylor found a 'dark green religion' amongst forest activists and other nature carers and more recently has discussed aquatic nature religion, while my recent work has focused on ecological-spiritual relationships among marine activists that I frame as a 'deep blue religion'. In the end, it is about a profound reverence for the earth's dynamic and life-providing ecosystems.

These themes are immersed in the moving words of Xavier Rudd's 'Better People' who lyrically gives 'respect to the ones making changes'.

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