Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shift­ing the Foun­da­tions of Eco-Theology

Today, we share with you an excerpt of an article from the collaborative Presbyterians for Earth Care issue of Unbound Magazine. This reflection excerpt is by the Rev. Neddy Astudillo who will be the worship leader at PEC’s 2013 Conference. Please click here for the entire article! We hope her words inspire and embolden you in your own earth caring work in this new year.

Shift­ing the Foun­da­tions of Eco-Theology to Include Stew­ard­ship, Jus­tice, and Spirituality
By Rev. Neddy Astudillo
Este texto tam­bién está disponible en español.

An uneasy feel­ing moves freely through the air these days, while the words of the Gospel keep pro­claim­ing: “Go! and share the Good News with all Cre­ation” (Mark 16:15).

As a pas­tor of a Latino/a min­istry, I find myself strug­gling, daily, seek­ing to find new depths for the Evangelist’s words—while I respond to the urgent needs of real peo­ple, with­out for­get­ting the rest of the earth. Yes! I need to con­fess: my mid­dle class, westernized-Latina self hoped, when com­mit­ting to eco-justice min­istry, that shar­ing the Good News would always be an easy, fun and far reach­ing endeavor. But real­ity increas­ingly con­tin­ues to show me otherwise.

Eco-justice work is com­pli­cated, and in many coun­tries today is even dan­ger­ous. It touches and chal­lenges many aspects of social life and spe­cial inter­ests. But it is nec­es­sary, if we want to seri­ously and faith­fully care for God’s earth in a sus­tain­able and tran­scen­dent manner.

Eco-feminist the­olo­gian Heather Eaton cor­rectly said: “When the­ol­ogy is engaged with the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis in depth, there are major shifts in the very foun­da­tion.”[i] Eco-justice shakes our faith, and also impacts the way we live our lives. The more we have com­mit­ted our hearts to a con­sumerist soci­ety, the harder it is to under­stand the Gospel’s mes­sage. Eco-justice requires we change more things about our lives than what we may like to accept.... 

neddy astudillo.... Today’s envi­ron­men­tal cri­sis requires we seek ways to under­stand and trans­late its infor­ma­tion, rec­og­niz­ing the pros and short­com­ings of each eco-theology and faith­fully decid­ing a course of action. We may already be late in some of our responses, but the Gospel of Mark’s words are the more poignant, as time goes by, not less.

Church rep­re­sen­ta­tives... can­not always speak openly about the com­plex­i­ties of these issues; but church lead­ers, youth, teach­ers, pas­tors, com­mu­nity groups, the­olo­gians, and NGOs can. We must do it with­out delay, helped by the fact that, far from inhibit­ing action, the com­plex­ity of these issues gives us plenty of ways and places from where to start.

I, per­son­ally, will con­tinue my advo­cacy work for immi­grants’ rights. I will con­tinue sup­port­ing our local community-supported farm and will eat organic food as long as my bud­get allows. I will give rides to my church mem­bers who col­lect scrap metal and cans for food. I will col­lab­o­rate with the Back­yard Chicken group, to trans­late mate­ri­als into Span­ish, now that they have con­vinced our City Coun­cil to pass an ordi­nance allow­ing chick­ens in the city. I will con­tinue lov­ing my fam­ily, and will cel­e­brate Saint Fran­cis day at church. I will be stew­ard, and jus­tice advo­cate, and spir­i­tu­al­ist, for while these vary­ing approaches may be insuf­fi­cient alone, they can together inform an eco-theology capa­ble of invit­ing those young peo­ple back into the church, and the church back into the world and its deep need.

We encourage you to click here to read Rev. Neddy Astudillo’s entire article, which includes a reflection on her time at the People’s Sum­mit dur­ing the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit!

Read more articles like this one in the Nov 2012–Jan 2013 issue, “Hope for Eco-Activists: Dis­cov­er­ing an Envi­ron­men­tal Faith”, and check out Rev. Neddy Astudillo’s blog, “Eco-Justicia”!

[i] Eaton, Heather, Intro­duc­ing Ecofem­i­nist The­olo­gies; 2005 (T&T Clark Inter­na­tional, New York NY); Pg 77.  

Neddy Astudillo is an eco-theologian, a grad­u­ate of McCormick The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary (M.Div.), and a can­di­date for a D.Min. on Eco-justice Min­istries and Eco-spirituality at Drew Uni­ver­sity. Neddy, a Venezuelan-American, is the pas­tor of an Ecu­meni­cal (ELCA/PCUSA) Latino min­istry in Beloit, Wis­con­sin. Neddy lives in North­ern Illi­nois with her hus­band Tom Spauld­ing and their three teenagers, where they moved eleven years ago to help start the Angelic Organ­ics Learn­ing Cen­ter, an excit­ing and engag­ing place to learn about food, farm­ing, and car­ing for the earth. As part of her doc­toral pro­gram, Neddy has taught Eco-Theology in Latin Amer­i­can sem­i­nar­ies; Guatemala (CEDEPCA), Perú (AETE) & Bolivia (ISEAT). Neddy is a co-author of the NCCC Dec­la­ra­tion “God’s Earth is Sacred”, and of its lat­est book: “God’s Earth is Sacred: Essays on Eco-Justice” (2011). Neddy was also pub­lished in David Rhoad’s book “Earth and Word: Clas­sic Ser­mons on Sav­ing the Planet”. Neddy shares her pas­sion for God’s cre­ation through wor­ship, work­shops  and a Span­ish web­site:

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