The Institution of Dark Green

Dark green religion has no institutional home: no physical building, membership list, meetings, committees, or mission statement. These trappings of institutionalization may be off-putting, but only people who commit to working together, using the tools of purpose and organization that constitute an institution, have a chance of effecting transformation -- of themselves or of the world.

I had the chance to ask Bron Taylor about institutions: do we need there to be places – buildings and memberships – where people gather for ceremonies to express and affirm the sacredness of nature?

Does dark green religion need a dark green headquarters?
Prof. Taylor said dark green religion is infusing a variety of institutions, various church denominations are beginning to embrace it, environmental organizations are increasingly speaking a spiritual kind of language about the earth they seek to protect, and dark green religion is expressed in all manner of ways in books and movies and theme parks where people are jazzed up, or awed by the majesty and sacredness of our blue-boat home, and sent out into the world without ever taking the step of being a member of an organization.

That’s rather encouraging, really – this trend all around us toward dark green religion. But we will need institutions if we are going to make it through the hard times that are coming. We will need people organizing, committing to each other to be members together of a place that will be there for them week after week to support them in remembering what is divine, and in practicing it, and in worshipping that honors this blue-green home on which we live and breath and have our being. We will need:
  • a place that will call us, over and over, to practice what we preach, because Gaia knows we are prone to forget and to lapse;
  • a place that doesn’t just give us an experience like a book or a movie or a speech or a theme park but that provides community support for a way of life;
  • an institution (which is to say: an ongoing pattern of being together) through which there is awakening of the spirit and encouragement to action in line with our spiritual values.
Unitarian Universalism has always been about living our religion, and religioning our lives. Awaken to the sacred depths of nature. Express your worship also through acts of care for our mother, for Earth, for Gaia. Re-commit to this faith of awe and wonder and openness to whatever this universe may bring us. Re-commit to actions of care, of compassion for our planet home.

It is a new year – and like the trees outside, we are in bud with possibilities of transformation. In this time of resolution making, what bud of change – for the sake of healing, wholeness, and our planet home – will you bring forth to burst into new life? What commitment will you make as an act of love and an act of worship that will reduce your footprint in 2014?

Take some action, rise to whatever for you is the next challenge in living more wholesomely, not because you actually expect it to do any good. Do it because it might. Do it because it’s sure to do this good: you will be more whole, more spiritually alive, the more you replace mindless consumption with mindful consumption.

And begin, as Joanna Macy says, with gratitude.
“We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful self-organizing universe – to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it – is a wonder beyond words. And it is, moreover, an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, to possess this self-reflexive consciousness, which brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world.”
That’s a soteriology for our time.

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This is part 5 of 5 of "The Ecospiritual Imperative"
Previous: Part 4: "Dark Green Religion: Everywhere and Nowhere"
Beginning: Part 1: "Soteriology and Ecology"

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