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Eco-spirituality's overwhelming agenda


With the introduction of the carbon tax in July, we are beginning to experience the consequences — perhaps most noticeably steep rises in the cost of electricity — of attempts to address the threat of climate change.

This comes in the context of fierce community debate not only about measures to counter climate change, but whether the phenomenon even exists.

This video features a man who has led the way in the religious realm in thinking and talking about a range of ecological issues, including climate change. Theologian, ethicist and Uniting Church minister, Noel Preston has been outspoken about environmental problems.

As well as an interview about what he calls eco-justice and eco-spirituality, the video contains excerpts from a talk he gave recently at the annual Sea of Faith Network conference held on the Gold Coast.

Preston has a strong history as a campaigner on a range of social justice issues. He served as the inaugural convenor of the Uniting Church's Commission on Social Responsibility, Queensland Director of Action for World Development, and was founding director of Uniting Care Centre for Social Justice.

He has been a member and convenor of a number of Queensland social action groups including Concerned Christians, People for Nuclear Disarmament and Citizens Against Corruption.

He has taken particular inspiration on environmental issues from the Earth Charter that was launched in The Hague, Holland, in 2000. He sits on the committee of Earth Charter Australia.

Preston has combined life as a vigorous social activist with a distinguished career in academia. He held senior positions as a lecturer at both the Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University, teaching in the fields of applied and professional ethics. When he retired in 2004, he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to the community in the field of ethics.

He has authored, edited and co-authored a number of books including Exploring Eco-justice: reframing ethics and spirituality in the context of globaliaation; Beyond the Boundary: a memoir exploring ethics, politics and spirituality; and Understanding Ethics which is now in its third edition. 

Peter Kirkwood headshot smilingPeter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity. 


Topic tags: Peter Kirkwood, Noel Pearson, eco-justice



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Existing comments

It is a good summary of Noel Preston. I think he is right, that eco-justice is a good starting point for understanding where we are, and possibly where we need to go in order to get a better understanding of our role and place in nature. While I also think that pantheism is the wrong approach (due largely to its problem with theodicy - the place of evil in the world), I side ultimately with John Polkinghorne that panentheism is not where we are, but is the promise of where we want to be in the future.

Gregory J | 02 November 2012  

Rise in elecricity costs has nothing to do with the carbon tax. It's openly attributed to infrastructure costs for the electricity companies.

Sari | 02 November 2012  

Will have to listen to Noel on my other computer. In the meantime my question to Peter is I thought we were way beyond the question of whether climate change exists. Denial is staying safe while all around you collapses. Just been to the Flinders Ranges and that immense prehistoric landscape that has endured for over 540 million years. I found myself wondering if this is the scenario of landscape where we are all heading! Peace.

Jenny Esots | 02 November 2012  

Thanks for this article about Noel Preston - but please don't forget to mention the Glenburn Centre of Ecospirituality run by the Christian Brothers at Glenburn in country Victoria - got to be worth a visit for each of us interested in protecting our future on this earth and our understanding of ecospirituality.

John B. Wilson | 02 November 2012  

I've been coordinating an ecospirituality programme through the Anglican church of Australia [Diocese of Willochra] for the past 20 years. We conduct four or five programmes each year based in several different shearer's quarters throughout the Flinders Ranges. It's ecumenical in flavour, each programme has a spiritual director who brings discussions and devotions for participants. I bring an ecological perspective especially geology. It's a unique experience which seeks to deepen our connections with the natural world , with each other and with God. People get to reflect on their own spirituality in a beautiful natural environment and in the company of like-minded people. In 2012 we presented four programmes: God of Creeks, God of Gums,God of Sky at Willow Springs, God of Mines, God of Pines at Moolooloo, In the land of the Adnyamathanha [aboriginal spirituality] at Angepena and God of Creation and First Life at Gum Creek. Are you interested for 2013? Contact me on patez1@yahoo.com

Terry Krieg | 02 November 2012  

Terry Krieg - surely you jest?

Paul Johnson | 06 November 2012  

You are implying that the carbon tax has caused the steep rise in electricity prices. They have occurred in the past few years and mainly because of upgrades to the grid. The carbon tax should not cause more than 10% rise. If it does contact the ACCC. I am a climate leader with The Climate Reality Project headed by Al Gore and a presenter with Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne Energy Institute.

Marguerite Marshall | 22 December 2012