Former Intern Coordinator Nathan Holst shares the blog entry below. Check out Nathan’s own blog here. Nathan has been in California for a month internship with Ched Myers to study Watershed Discipleship.
It’s hard to believe, but we’re on the closing side of our internship here at the Bartimaus Cooperative in California with Ched Myers and Elaine Enns. It’s been such a rich time of learning and exploration, breaking open parts of me that I didn’t know would be opened, asking me to engage more than just ecological theology. Before we end our internship, I wanted to share a few thoughts and explore the connections between the books and conversations we’re having here.
The 3 books that Sarah and I are reading out loud together ”A Political Theology of Ecology, Dwellers in the Land, and Hope and History” have me sinking into visions, as well as spinning with thoughts of how I will apply what I’m learning to my life.
Before I share about the books, I want to share the community context of how I’m thinking about what I’m learning. I first think about my friends up in Portland with Ecofaith Recovery and Wilderness Way Community, recently energized by their engagement with the climate march and continuing to organize congregations in the struggle against coal and oil transport, as well as engaging the larger story through their Organizing in the Biocommons class. I also think of all the people that I know back in Minnesota (and have been thinking often of conversations I’ve been having with my parents about climate change), wondering how they are engaging the interlocking crises and opportunities that we now face, hoping that when we settle there in the Spring, we can join others in our small piece of the Great Work.
I am ever so grateful for what the Organizing in the Biocommons (OBC) class sparked in me (indeed, I think without Ecofaith Recovery and Wilderness Way Community, I might not be here on this internship) and taught me through the many articles and books and conversations we had. What I’m appreciating in particular about this time of learning, as Sarah and I read for a couple hours each day and discuss, is the depth and connection between the books that has emerged for me.
Here’s what I’m learning about: all recommendations from Ched, the book Political Theology of Ecology has given me some important history of philosophy, which has led to much of our crises, as well as many sobering realities of what our world is facing with climate change. This is, in some ways, what we did together in the OBC class, but what this experience is adding for me, in reading the 2nd book “Dwellers of the Land,” is a comprehensive Bioregional vision of how we can collectively respond to the crisis together. It is at the core of much of Ched’s work on Watershed Discipleship (see these articles), which calls us all in our congregations to start living in harmony and mutually beneficial ways with our watersheds, beyond a positive, but sometimes superficial church garden-creation care response to our crisis. It is incredibly inspiring and only overwhelming in that there are so many ways I can respond, and I want to choose them all. Then adding to this already exiting vision, we add the book Hope and History, an incredible offering of the Black Freedom Movement (often referred to as the Civil Rights Movement) by Vincent Harding, who brilliantly shares stories of nonviolent struggle, at the same time asking all those who are reading to mentor and teach our youth, offering them the much needed context of all the tools and power that we can learn from our amazing brothers and sisters who participated in the movement and continue to work for true democracy.
So it is, I feel, that we have the starting of a class, a life assignment, a vocation, whatever shape it may come to be. Here we have a book that gives us important pieces of the current reality, a book that gives a vision of what could be, and a book that offers us deep spiritual tools and lessons about democracy, in which to embody the vision and response to our crisis reality.
I look forward to diving in deeply to this life long venture. As Ched has said, may we all go deeply in our traditions, for we will need all the depth and wisdom we can muster to respond to what we’re facing. So I would like to make a public commitment to go deeply in my Christian tradition. I am ready to say yes to the unknown adventure, surely full of joy and pain, and look forward to joining the crowd of witness that have already been working tirelessly on this journey. May we all be given humility and passion to endure in this work together. Blessed be.
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