Ecology and Liturgy

This seminar explores the ways in which ecological consciousness/practices and liturgical consciousness/practices intersect and contextualize each other, and develops articles/resources on this topic for use by scholars and practitioners of worship.

Convener

Lisa E. Dahill
ldahill@callutheran.edu

Seminar Report 2020

Convener

Lisa E. Dahill, Professor of Religion at California Lutheran University

Members in Attendance

Deborah Appler, Joseph Bush, Lisa E. Dahill, Carol Frenning, Paul Galbreath, Mary E. McGann, Lawrence Mick, Ellen Oak, Susan Smith, Benjamin Stewart, Samuel Torvend, John West

Visitors in Attendance

Martin Marilin, Mat Verghese

Description of Work

This year’s seminar sessions contained a rich mixture of papers by six members (Joseph Bush, Ben Stewart, Paul Galbreath, Mary McGann, Lisa Dahill, and Samuel Torvend) over four sessions, along with two sessions centering on dance and liturgical innovation. The dance session was led by John West, featuring improvisational movement in relation to the four elements of creation, including discussion of dance as a means of fostering connection to the natural world. The liturgical innovation session was an opportunity for members to lead prayers or other ritual elements they have written or encountered, for dis- cussion. We hosted the Advent Project Seminar for one session as well.

Papers and Presentations

  • Joe Bush, “Turning to the Children: Ecological Threat and Hope in Advent,” and “Turning to the Children: Advent Wreath Liturgies,” chapters from Worshiping in Season, Rowman & Littlefield, under contract (with the Advent Project Seminar).
  • Ben Stewart, “Silence at the Sanctus: The Liturgical Guild and the Ecological ”
  • Paul Galbreath, “In Praise of Living Water: Ritual Experimentation in Times of Ecological Crisis.”
  • Mary McGann, Chapters 8 and 9, The Meal that Reconnects (forthcoming, Liturgical Press).
  • Lisa E. Dahill, “Eating and Being Eaten: Interspecies Vulnerability as Eu”
  • Samuel Torvend, “Early Medieval Monastic Commitments to Environmental ”

Other Work and Plans for the Future

We discussed the possibility of starting a website to feature our seminar’s work, in hopes of reaching a wider readership than publication in journals alone allows.

Seminar Report 2019

Convener

Benjamin M. Stewart, Associate Professor of Worship at The Luther- an School of Theology at Chicago

Members in Attendance

Joseph Bush, Lisa Dahill, Brian Johnson, Mary Mc- Gann, Lawrence Mick, Susan Marie Smith, Benjamin M. Stewart, Samuel Torvend

Visitors in Attendance

M. Kate Allen, Kristen Daley-Mosier, Adam Vander Tuig

Description of Work

An introductory session reviewed our research since last year and received greetings from absent members. Papers (abstracts below) were engaged; two joint sessions with the Liturgy and Culture seminar allowed for a session of shared papers, and a session of discussion with plenary presenter Dr. George “Tink” Tinker. The seminar’s 2019 study book was discussed: Christiana Zenner, Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and Global Water Crises. Lisa Dahill agreed to serve as seminar convener at the conclusion of Benjamin Stewart’s two terms.

Papers and Presentations

  • Mary McGann, RSCJ “Troubled Waters, Troubled Initiation Rites”
    In light of the global crises affecting the quality and accessibility of Earth’s fresh water supplies, this paper contends that the adequacy of Christian rites of initiation, as well as teaching and theologizing about them, requires a new framework, an integrated vision that is at once ecological, sacramental, and ethical. This three-fold framework is further identified and explored as a truthful ecological vision of human identity within the web of life; an expan- sive sacramental vision of God’s redemptive grace; and a clear ethical vision of baptismal responsibility for Earth’s precious waters.—all of which bring initiating communities to a deeper sense of relatedness to, and responsibility for Earth’s precious waters. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2018 Yale Liturgy Conference, “Full of Your Glory: Liturgy, Cosmos, Creation.” It will appear in a conference volume to be published by Liturgical Press, 2019, edited by Teresa Berger.
  • Joseph Bush, Book outline and excerpt from Ecology, Christology and Wor- shiping in Season, “Chapter 9: Epiphany”
    Presentation of an outline of the book he is writing to be published by Row- man and Littlefield titled Worshiping in Season and a chapter from that book on the subject of Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ, bringing an ecological hermeneutic to bear on the liturgical seasons. The chapter addresses the magi tradition, Psalm 72, the baptism of Christ, and concludes with a baptismal liturgy drawing on feminine imagery and informed by the wisdom tradition.
  • Kate Allen, “Thean Psalter: Prayer Mystagogy, and Ecological Consciousness”
    This paper examines five psalms in two translations (Thean Psalter and NRSV) side by side. She explores how familiar psalms may, when rewritten in a feminist, feminine framework, bring about fertile growth in ecological consciousness.
  • Lisa Dahill: “Lent, Lament, and the River: Interfaith Ritual in the Ashes of the Thomas Fire”
    This paper explores questions of place-based/outdoor interfaith ritual using the case study of a Christian/Chumash service on Ash Wednesday, February 2018. The rite took place along the Ventura River outside Ojai, CA, in the ashes of the recent Thomas Fire and made use of those ashes in the traditional Christian imposition of ashes onto participants’ foreheads.
  • Benjamin Stewart, “Wisdom’s Buried Treasure: Ecological Cosmology in Funeral Rites”
    The paper argues that the contemporary recovery of natural burial within Christian ritual embodies ecological dimensions of the wisdom tradition, complementing funerary motifs of resurrection. An earlier version of this pa- per was presented at the 2018 Yale Liturgy Conference, “Full of Your Glory: Liturgy, Cosmos, Creation.” It will appear in a conference volume to be pub- lished by Liturgical Press, 2019, edited by Teresa Berger.
  • Melanie Karnopp, “Here, There, and Everywhere: Buddhist Funeral Practices” First-person accounts of Buddhists funerals, along with an overview of key concepts and Joint session with Liturgy and Culture Seminar.
  • Samuel Torvend, “Bringing Bread and Wine to the Altar,” from (forthcom- ing) Eucharistic Gestures of Justice and
    A draft of the first chapter for a manuscript entitled Eucharistic Gestures of Justice and Peace. This chapter, on the presentation of the gifts, is one of nine in a study of the primary gestures employed in the eucharistic liturgy. In contrast to works that comment on the personal or ecclesial dimensions of public gesture, the distinctive character of this study is its evocation of the public significance of gestures, their economic, political, or social symbolism. This is a perspective that has rarely appeared in studies the ritual gestures.

Other work and Plans for the future

The seminar articulated the need for significant shifts in the liturgical studies guild toward ecological fluency and ecotheological literacy. A number of strategies for addressing this need were discussed.