2013 Eco Feminist Seminar – October 6

“Lifting Blankets from the Drum”

Don’t put blankets over the drum!
Open completely.
Let your spirit ear listen
to the green dome’s
passionate murmur.
Rumi, 13th Century mystic poet

earth's cry

Global warming, melting ice-caps, shrinking rainforests, depletion of fish populations, rising sea-levels, species extinctions – these realities are now known to us, the words are familiar yet deeply unsettling and profoundly unwelcome. The enormity and complexity of the issues often leave us confused, despairing or simply numb. For Christians, a strange dissociation often seems to exist between the ecological crisis and a heritage that includes a Creator God. In her book, Earth’s cry: prophetic ministry in a more-than-human world,  Dr Jan Morgan turns to the prophetic tradition – a tradition generated in the dislocation of crises in the past. Drawing this tradition into engagement with the ecological humanities (particularly ecophilosophy and ecotheology) and with ministry studies, she discovers root memories that hold. Here is wisdom that could unleash our passion and energy by challenging us to attend to Earth’s cry, to own the misuse of our power in silencing Earth’s cry, to learn that grief is radical criticism and to imagine daring alternatives. A response to the ecological crisis is nothing less than a call to a fresh and radical vocation – to ecoprophetic ministry.

During the seminar Jan outlined some of the insights she has written about in her recently published book, “Earth’s Cry: Prophetic ministry in a more than human world” The afternoon was divided into four sections: Cry, Silence, Grief and Singing.

Loss of the feminine in our culture is inextricably linked with the ecological crisis.
Humans have created a new geological era which is causing suffering for the earth and other than human life.  The prophetic tradition has long been a response to human injustice, human oppression and human hurt.  it is necessary to cry out. To be broken open and to allow the cry to be felt.  The prophetic tradition teaches us that we need to bring hurt to the surface – this permits something to begin.  Provokes an action/response.  Crying out is a protest.  To hear earth’s cry is a serious challenge.  We began to name some of the things that are happening to life on earth, and to beat the drum as a sign of our protest at what is happening to earth.

Often when confronted with injustice, oppression, hurt we become mute and numb.  We silence those voices that would cry out. That would call for help, that would speak up and say, “something is not right!” What silences our response to the global ecological crisis? Why dont we react when earth cries out?   We are enmeshed in multiple webs of silencing but some of the reasons we dont respond are:

– we have become disconnected from ourselves and each other and the earth. we have lost touch with that which sustains us
– we have inherited a view that humans are more important – that earth is matter/object
– there are powerful forces at work making sure accurate information about climate change is not widely in the public sphere – spending lots of money and energy refuting the seriousness of the ecological crisis
– we are complicit – problem too big, we are too small, dont want to give up our comforts.

Blankets were put over the drum to symbolise the silencing or muffling of earth’s cry

those who hear earth’s cry must deal with grief and allow the pain of loss to be felt. Grief must be lived but through this process an alternative can come to birth. Liturgy and ritual are helpful ways to take up our grief for earth.

Blankets were taken off of the drum as we named our feelings about what was happening to earth

We long for hope but we can not rush to hope too soon and for a while we hold hope with grief.  Singing is often the form in which hope is given appropriate voice. A radical new way of being requires a new language; what is waiting to be said can be sung first. Singing announces the new possibility. Poets, prophets, artists scientists  take risks and act differently. They act in defiance to power and oppression and help form a new imagination of the way things could be.

Jan Morgan’s book “Earth’s Cry:Prophetic ministry in a more-than-human world” is published by Mosaic Press and can be ordered from www.mosaicresources.com.au

photos from the day can be seen on our blog here