97 percent of environmental experts and peer-reviewed climate science studies agree with a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which states: humans are the cause of the rapid global warming during the past 60 years; 90 percent of the large fish in our oceans are gone; and 97 percent of native forests are destroyed each and every day. The present and future state of our planet are statistically overwhelming. Earth is committing suicide. The question is no longer one of climate change legitimacy, but rather one of human responsibility in healing the planet and seeking a future of sustainability.
The ethical imperative of justice runs thick through the veins of Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University. Without fear of generalization, there is no doubt in the minds of faculty, staff, and students that our ecological crisis is the pinnacle of the injustice we face today, as a religious people. Elizabeth McDuffie, a Ph.D. student in Religion, Ethics, and Society, is taking action.
Resurrecting the former work of Mary Elizabeth Moore (CST alumna and Dean of Boston School of Theology), McDuffie has taken lead in cultivating a campus wide community garden. Currently funded by Dean Freudenberger, McDuffie and fellow students, Joshua Jett and Elizabeth Rhea, “have a strong desire to create more opportunities for sustainable living on campus.” Being involved in the campus garden reminds McDuffie that she is from and of the Earth. “I don't take care of it but it takes care of and nurtures my body, allowing me to live.”
For McDuffie and other students, the first step toward participating in a larger progressive movement to restore and heal the very Earth we human beings have so actively destroyed, is the sacred act of getting their hands dirty. The Abrahamic faith traditions echo this sentiment as their creation narrative speaks of God’s divine breath being that which animates the very dust of the Earth. With dirt thick under the nails of these students, the Earth is not only honored and cared for, but God is encountered in simple yet adventures ways.
The long-term vision of the garden, McDuffie explains, “means local, clean food that will be available to all students free of charge. Right now we have a variety of greens, carrots, and radishes planted along with two rows of fruit trees that were just planted.”
In the face of ecological disaster, the students of Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University are taking action and refuse to fall victim to justice-oriented hyperbole. Rather, these students have taken one small step toward creating a more beautiful, just, and sustainable future for our campus as we continue to pioneer the future of theological education together.
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