Friday, July 09, 2021

Biology professor meets with Archbishop of Canterbury


Biology professor meets with Archbishop of Canterbury



The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

As an outgrowth of her years of work to build relationships between science and faith-based groups, on June 23, University of Utah biology professor Nalini Nadkarni presented on environmental and ecological justice to the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The archbishop, spiritual leader of 85 million Anglicans and Episcopalians, is on sabbatical visiting the Virginia Theological Seminary and invited Nadkarni, along with two theologians and a water rights attorney, to speak on issues of ecological justice, reconciliation and forgiveness.

The group met virtually with the archbishop and with Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary.

“It was meaningful for me to experience the respect and open-minded language and behavior that surrounded this encounter,” Nadkarni said. “The fact that he initiated this, and is making the learning about social and environmental justice during his sabbatical to study and understand the processes of ‘reconciliation’ impressed me as just what is needed in leaders of all kinds, and it was a welcome signal from one of the major religious leaders of our time.”

Nadkarni spoke about the complexity of interactions in nature, drawing on her own research in forest ecology. She suggested ways for scientists and faith-based groups to work together to address environmental issues, including inviting scientists to religious conferences and encouraging interactions with local groups such as citizen science projects on church and seminary grounds.

“I concluded by saying that there are many scientists who would be interested in contributing to positive actions and interactions with faith-based groups, and offered whatever help I might provide,” Nadkarni said. “The archbishop expressed his gratitude for this information and will be in touch with the participants in this conversation to get feedback on action items he plans to take.” He will also include Nadkarni’s input in a book he is writing during his sabbatical.

Nadkarni said she was glad to learn that the archbishop and Markham were aware of environmental conservation and environmental justice issues, including initiatives to save existing wildlands.

Locally, the meeting has led to discussions with Tyler Doherty, the dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Salt Lake City. Doherty and Nadkarni will be exploring opportunities to discuss with congregants about care for the Earth from an Episcopalian perspective.

Also in June, Nadkarni gave a keynote address at a conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) titled “Forward Together: Where Science, Ethics, & Religion Intersect in a Changing World.”

Recorded talks from the conference are now available.

The conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of DoSER and the common ground and concerns of scientists and faith-based groups. “There are many intersection points for engagement at this time,” Nadkarni said, citing her own efforts, those of other DoSER scientists, and the participation in the conference by scientific leaders such as Sudip Parikh, CEO of AAAS, which is the largest science professional society in the world. Others have been initiated by religious individuals or groups, including Interfaith Power and Light, which disseminates information about climate change via leaders of faith-based groups.

Nadkarni’s keynote address has been highlighted in the National Catholic Reporter, and the conference as a whole was featured in the journal Science showing, Nadkarni said, a breadth of influence from a single presentation.

“It would be impossible to sit in on this conference and not be impressed with how many scientists and faith-based people are involved with these exchanges,” Nadkarni said. “A quote from Nancy Adelman, a member of the faculty of Catholic University, stated ‘Scientists and people of faith speak a common language, which is awe and wonder at the world at large. Meet on common ground and consider our common interest.'”

Read more about Nadkarni’s work with faith-based groups here.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Veni, Creator Spiritus

Photo of Camel's Hump, Vermont, by Caleb Kenna

Veni, Creator Spiritus

John Dryden (1631–1700)

Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world’s foundations first were laid,
Come, visit ev’ry pious mind;
Come, pour thy joys on human kind;
From sin, and sorrow set us free;
And make thy temples worthy Thee.

O, Source of uncreated Light,
The Father’s promis’d Paraclete!
Thrice Holy Fount, thrice Holy Fire,
Our hearts with heav’nly love inspire;
Come, and thy Sacred Unction bring
To sanctify us, while we sing!

Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
Rich in thy sev’n-fold energy!
Thou strength of his Almighty Hand,
Whose pow’r does heav’n and earth command:
Proceeding Spirit, our Defence,
Who do’st the gift of tongues dispence,
And crown’st thy gift with eloquence!

Refine and purge our earthly parts;
But, oh, inflame and fire our hearts!
Our frailties help, our vice control;
Submit the senses to the soul;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then, lay thy hand, and hold ’em down.

Chase from our minds th’ Infernal Foe;
And peace, the fruit of love, bestow;
And, lest our feet should step astray,
Protect, and guide us in the way.

Make us Eternal Truths receive,
And practise, all that we believe:
Give us thy self, that we may see
The Father and the Son, by thee.

Immortal honour, endless fame,
Attend th’ Almighty Father’s name:
The Saviour Son be glorified,
Who for lost Man’s redemption died:
And equal adoration be,
Eternal Paraclete, to thee.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Shining like the sun

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world…

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed… But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”

―Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander