Katharine M. Preston is an ecumenical lay preacher and writer, concentrating on issues of social justice and climate change.
Posts By This Author
An Experiment in Neighborly Love
THE UNEXPECTED CONVERSATION happened near the end of church coffee hour. As I headed toward the kitchen to drop off my cup and a small plate dotted with crumbs of coffee cake, I found myself in a brief exchange with some fellow parishioners. Perhaps something in the sermon that Sunday prompted it; I don’t recall. I do remember the clear revelation that this conversation somehow had to continue, because for the first time I was talking about a dicey political situation with fellow parishioners far more conservative than me.
Fed up with avoiding these conversations, I suggested: “We need to continue this.”
As in many rural areas in the U.S., we find ourselves deeply divided politically. Our president continues to promise to save America from what he deems wrong, which, he assures us, is most everything, especially from the last eight years. He keeps us busy chasing the rabbits he releases from his tweets, running all over the place. Some, opposing his views, march, write myriad letters to our representatives, sign petitions, and flood our newspapers with commentary. Others who support the president write letters to the editor praising his leadership and thanking him for following through with his promises, even when thwarted by the courts or an uncooperative Congress.
At times the divide is breathtaking.
Changing the World with Joy
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. — E.B. White
ON A GORGEOUS FALL DAY, I bundle up just a bit and go sit on the rock under the apple tree in the middle of the field. The low-angled sun pours its subdued warmth onto the splashy orange of the maples, transient yellows of the tamarack, and faithfully green cedar. Further to the west, the mountains cut a postcard-perfect silhouette against the seasonally pale blue sky.
Such grace, warming my heart with joy.
A loving God calls us to experience such profligate joy. Now, in the latter decades of my life, time picks up its pace at an alarming rate. So I often promise myself to seek more opportunities to sit on rocks.
But instead, each morning, the genes of my activist mother, the teachings of my faith, and probably a bit too much of my own hubris conspire to bring on the conflicting desire to “improve” (well, okay ... save) the world.
So I strongly identify with E.B. White’s dilemma, softened by his gentle humor-with-a-touch-of-wistfulness.
Working for social justice seems like forever. I am weary of being tedious to those around me who do not understand my seemingly quixotic campaigns. I am weary listening to the current loud, vicious, largely irrelevant public clamor surrounding issues to which I am dedicated. I am weary knowing that those of us preaching minority positions that were once slammed as unrealistic have been proven right. But it took so long: civil rights, the Vietnam War, apartheid, climate change. As we slogged through our protests and The Powers That Be didn’t listen, lives were lost, billions of dollars spent, time wasted. I am impatient: Why can’t the arc of the moral universe run, rather than just bend, toward justice?
A Burning Truth
Fracking for oil and gas has toxic consequences for surrounding communities. Even worse: It's fueling climate change.
Mourning for the Earth
To confront climate change, we may need to first deal with our grief.
Bravo for finally addressing climate change head-on (December 2009).
Suggestions for Green Seminaries - WEB EXCLUSIVE
Integrate books on religion and the environment into the syllabi of existing seminary courses , from biblical studies to pastoral care.
The Green Gospel
Will seminaries equip church leaders for an age of environmental crisis?
From Charity to Investment
How community-based investing transforms individuals - and religious institutions.