Sustainable Spirituality

Nigel Savage

Rabbi Nigel Savage's lecture on Judaism, Faith and Sustainability, was one of several events linking sustainability and spirituality during the college's weeklong celebration of Earth Day.

Speakers and events shine a light on faith and sustainability

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

When we talk about sustainability, we typically use the sciences as our framework, from what we know about the earth’s natural resources to what we know about human behavior and the human capacity for change. But there are many other approaches to this Earth-sized issue.

This week, to celebrate Earth Day, the Center for Sustainability Education, the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life and the Office of Religious Life joined forces to explore the spiritual side of sustainability, bringing leaders and thinkers to campus to delve deeply into connections among faith, spirituality, ethics and social and environmental justice.

“In all of the major world religious traditions there’s a mandate that we must take care of the earth and all living beings on it,” says Donna Hughes, director of religious life and community service. “So when we bring the question of how we ‘do’ sustainable communities, it’s really helpful to look at the issue in this light.” 

The series of events kicked off on April 18 with Dickinson's semi-annual Bike to the Farm potluck dinner, which included guest rabbi Nigel Savage's lecture on Judaism, Faith and Sustainability.

Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network, a Roman Catholic social-justice lobby, delivered a powerful message on April 20 about connections between faith, service and social justice. Her lecture, Women and Activism: 21st-Century Apostles, expanded on a missive that she and fellow nuns took across the country as part of their headline-grabbing “Nuns on the Bus” movement and tour.

Activist/scholar/performer Peterson Toscano brings a light-hearted charisma to the conversation through two on-campus events. The first, held April 21, was a lively discussion during which he asked audience members to consider their place on the planet from both a humanitarian and spiritual viewpoint. The second, April 22 (ATS, 7 p.m.), brings together excerpts from several biographical one-man acts, using humor to describe his experiences as a social commentator, biblical scholar, actor, LGBTQ activist and environmental-sustainability advocate.

The College Farm will bookend the series of events by hosting Earth Fest (Saturday, April 25, 6-10 p.m.) with local grass-fed beef burgers and veggie burgers, local ice cream, Peddler coffee and music by Hoots and Hellmouth. (A bus will leave from Allison Hall’s parking lot at 6 p.m.; to encourage carpooling, those who choose to drive to the farm will be charged a fee of $2 per car).

The position of director of community service and religious life is supported by United Methodist Church. 

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Published April 21, 2015