Gotta have faith

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In recent years, there’s been a re-emergence of the need for joy, connection and spiritual energy that has permeated environmental movements. 

While the data of climate change, species loss and ecological destruction are sometimes numbing, the role of faith and faith communities in engendering activism and hope have become key ingredients in environmental discourse. 

This issue explores faith and how spirituality, religious engagement and a passion for the Earth are translating into transformative action, both personally and ecologically. 

With the landmark publication last May of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, we are seeing the head of the world’s largest Christian community articulate an “integral ecology,” blending a concern for the Earth with a concern for its most marginalized. 

The encyclical “connects the dots” on climate change, social justice and the need for a spiritually empowering response to our present predicament. It’s this confluence of faith, hope and caring for the Earth and each other that flows through these pages. 

In this issue, environmental academics, activists, artists and religious leaders all reflect on this particular time in our environmental and social history. Environmental activist and theorist Peter Timmerman reflects on this age of consumerism, contextualizing our present environmental malaise within the narrative of modernity, and suggesting ways in which a new story can be told. Professor Tim Leduc and Mohawk architect and scholar William Woodworth / Raweno:kwas speak about the history of First Nations and white settler relations in Canada, identifying how models of the past, such as that of Joseph Brant, can provide illumination for healing in the fractured story of Indigenous and Western worldviews on the continent.

Religion and ecology scholars Simon Appolloni and Heather Eaton also take us on a fascinating tour of the integration of religions and environmental concern in Canada.

Delving into creative hope with the dynamic Natalie Frijia, we have interviewed a winsome array of artists, activists, and NGO leaders, whose comingling of “faith,” and fate of the Earth is as fascinating as it is inspiring. 

In all of this, a sense of creativity is tethered to a sense of joy and hope, qualities which can be sustaining during our turbulent and darkened ecological moments. In listening to these voices, one senses that faith, hope and love are not simply “lovely intangibles” that are superfluous luxuries to the hard work of environmental and social activism. Rather, they may be the most important companions on our future ecological journey.