|ST&F pioneer Peter Arvedson receives 2006 Genesis Award|
At the April meeting of the ST&F Network Steering Board in Brighton, Michigan, Convener Sandra Michael presented the Network's Genesis Award for 2006 to chemist-priest Peter Arvedson, S.O.Sc. The Genesis Award recognizes Episcopalian leaders in the ongoing science-and-religion dialogues in the wider culture.
At the 1997 General Convention, both houses approved a resolution that formed "The Episcopal Church Working Group on Science, Technology & Faith" as a new interim body. "The Working Group, in serving as an educational resource for this Church and its seminaries, endeavors to offer the following, according to the expertise and abilities of its constituency:
(b) aids for Christian education in the parish, concentrating on the young people of confirmation or pre-confirmation age; and
(c) consultants to seminaries, regarding curriculum development in this area. In addition, the Working Group will research and report on specific issues, as requested by Executive Council or the House of Bishops."
The 2000 General Convention transformed the Working Group into the Executive Council's Committee on Science, Technology & Faith. Twelve members of the Working Group were appointed to the Committee. The rest of the Working Group changed their name to the Network for ST&F, and became a membership organization that would serve as a pool of experience and expertise for the Committee in its ongoing work. Peter served on the Network Steering Board as the first Communications Officer. He later became its Membership Officer, the position he currently holds.
A life-professed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, a dispersed preaching order of the Anglican Church, Peter retired from parish ministry in 2002 and is now living in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Catechism of Creation wins Episcopal Communicators' "Award of Excellence"|
A Catechism of Creation: An Episcopal Understanding was given the Award of Excellence, top honor in the "Writing Category" for books published by a national church group or agency. In part, the judge's critique reads as follows:
Graphics: Its very predictability--ironically--is one of its gifts. Form and function again. Laid out like a catechism and does its work suitably.
Content: Terrific and very timely given the fray which gives no indication of settling soon. Cogent, helpful and reasonable descriptions of both 'young earth creationism' and 'intelligent design' as well as approaches the church might consider. Excellent reading of the variant biblical traditions concerning creation. It's rare to see such a short treatment take so many of the biblical accounts seriously and to present them so attractively [and correctly].
Congratulations to the Committee on ST&F, and to its Creation Subcommittee: Robert Schneider (Chair and principal author), Phina Borgeson, Sandra Michael, and Barbara Smith-Moran (contributing authors).
[More about the mission and activities of Episcopal Communicators may be found at their website, www.episcopalcommunicators.org/.]
|Episcopal Delegation's report to Ecumenical Roundtable|
2. The Executive Council extended the mandate of the Committee to give it a new task. The Committee will undertake a survey of diocesan and parish activities related to Christian faith as it intersects with science, technology, ethics and creation care. A preliminary protocol has been developed for carrying out this mandate. The information eventually gathered will be collated and forwarded to the Episcopal Church headquarters for posting on the Church web site. The purpose is to inform the Church of the variety of activities undertaken, with the hope that a review of these will inspire others to engage in similar activities to meet similar concerns and challenges.
3. The committee has submitted two resolutions to the upcoming June meeting of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church [a triennial event]. One affirms the doctrine of creation as set forth in the Bible and the creeds, and acknowledges that evolution is firmly grounded science and fully compatible with Christian faith in a faithful and loving God. It also calls upon the Church to support good science education as defined by the scientific community. The other resolution asks the General Convention to instruct the Committee to explore theological, social, scientific and technological connections between sustainable agriculture and the reduction of poverty, and to develop educational materials in this area for the Church.
2. In 2005 the Network Steering Board created the Genesis Award to honor an Episcopalian who has provided leadership and greatly contributed to science-and-faith activities for the Episcopal Church. This year the Genesis Award was presented to the Rev. Dr. Peter Arvedson [see article above].
|ST&F at General Convention: Will you be there?|
When the Church meets at the Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio, for the 75th General Convention, 13-21 June 2006, watch for the presence of ST&F advocates. Network Convener Sandra Michael wants to gather Network members for fellowship around a meal at a time that suits everyone. If you plan to be in Columbus for all or part of the Convention, Sandra hopes you'll contact her. Here's where you'll find her:
The Hyatt Regency, phone: 614-463-1234
The Executive Council's ST&F Committee is bringing two resolutions before the Convention, as printed in the Blue Book (see description in article above).
And from "a galaxy far, far away," there's a special exhibit at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) that should provide entertainment--and a break from Convention: "Star Wars--Where Science Meets Imagination." COSI brags that this exhibit of sets and props is the first of its kind.
|Bp. Katharine Jefferts Schori on the origins of life|
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, was asked by National Public Radio to contribute to its internet series, "Taking Issue: The Origins of Life vs. Origins of Species." Her brief essay, "The Origins of Life: An Episcopal View," may be found at the "Taking Issue" website.
Bp. Jefferts Schori has a B.S. in biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University, and an M.Div. from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She is a strong supporter of the work of the ST&F Network.
|Primate of Australia challenges "scientific imperative"|
On 29 September 2005, the Most Rev. Dr. Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane, was inaugurated as Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia. He was elected over more conservative bishops and, at 45, is the youngest Primate to lead this province's 23 dioceses.
An interest in science-and-religion topics is suggested by the title of his doctoral dissertation for the University of Monash, Christian Education Reconsidered: Towards an Ecological Future (Clayton, Vic.: Monash University, 1988).
Preaching his inaugural sermon from the readings for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:45-51), the archbishop referred to the evils of runaway consumerism, the callous use of human tissue, and the "scientific imperative" (which states that because scientists can do something, they ought to do it). Here are excepts of that sermon.
And so the archetypal struggle of the human situation is portrayed. Human beings, prone to being deceived, vulnerable to being seduced into wrong choices that destroy, always under attack, and yet always struggling towards the birth of a higher life. The dragon, the power of evil, the enemy of truth, lurks, waiting to deceive, to frustrate the upward reach of humanity. This is life as we know it.
Where then, lurk the dragons of our day? What shape do they take? Well, their name is legion!
There is that dragon called materialism which flies in company with its siblings secularism and consumerism. This seduction would have us believe not only that life consists in the abundance of possessions but also that acquiring ever increasing volumes of things is both actually possible and good. Whereas the truth, according to one assessment, is that for everyone in the world to enjoy the same standard of living as is enjoyed in, say, Mosman in Sydney, we would need 7 planet earths to resource it.
There is that dragon--instrumentalism--which would have us believe that human beings can be used or disposed of to achieve whatever ends seem desirable. This dragon has many lairs in the debates about abortion and euthanasia, reproductive technologies and stem cell research. It takes flight in company with the argument that because science can--it should. Whereas the truth is that careful and deep reflection on the honour due to human life is necessary in all these situations.
And yet, despite its shortcomings and evident failures, underpinning the church and the good it does in the community is another vision of human being.
To be truly human, to be fully alive, is to live on the basis of a spirituality that flies in the face of the seductions that surround us most of the time. It is to be somewhat childlike, to be teachable, to remain humble, to eschew pride and arrogance and to be reverent towards other people and towards the natural world. Cultivating a mature spirituality of this sort moves in the opposite direction to the way we usually acquire knowledge--where the pattern is becoming the expert and gradually exercising more and more power.
Paradoxically, this mature, thoughtful, humble, discerning spirituality is the weapon that pierces the dragons' apparently impregnable armour. In fact, it already has. The struggle of the dragon to frustrate what is good and true reaches its climax on the cross. But it does not hold sway.
The manner of Jesus Christ's life and death, "by the blood of the Lamb" as St John puts it, is the peculiar power by which the dragon has been conquered. Our part in the outworking of the struggle is to abide in Christ, to grow up into him. That is, to be so united with him and with each other that the shape and character of his life--his humility, reverence and service--flows into ours, making us his healing reconciling presence in the world.
This is our vocation, our privilege and our joy. May this character pervade our church and be our gift to the world. Amen.
|Report from the Network's April Steering Board meeting|
by Sandra Michael, ST&F Network Convener
The Episcopal Church Network for Science, Technology and Faith held its annual Steering Board meeting on 28 April 2006, at Emrich Center, Brighton, Michigan.
Attendance: Convener Sandra Michael, Peter Arvedson, David Bailey, Phina Borgeson, James Jordan, Robert Schneider, and Susan Youmans, constituting a quorum. Guests: Network members Paul Julienne, John Miers, and Johnnie Ross.
(1) The "Genesis Award" for 2006 was presented to the Rev. Dr. Peter Arvedson for his distinguished service to the Church in the area of religion and science.
(2) Report on Membership. Arvedson raised serious questions about the present status of the Network: What is its role? What is its structural connection to the Committee? There is a sense that members are not getting much for the $20.00 annual dues they are asked to pay. How can we change that?
The Steering Board is a subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith (the Network itself is not); it is responsible for offering something to the membership; it needs to see to it that the membership is informed more frequently so that they feel truly a part of a network. The e-Newsletter is fine, but it's not enough. Should those who pay dues get something extra? What about useful tools and materials relating to science, technology and faith: should these be put on the website and made accessible to members and others? Who might write such materials?
Suggestions: (1) drop membership dues and for Network projects that require funding, set a budget and ask for contributions; (2) set up a listserv on Yahoo for Network members only. The majority view was to keep the dues but proceed with the listserv. Arvedson, Michael and Ross will put together a protocol for the listserv.
(3) Treasurer's Report: the report was submitted by Claire Lofgren via email.
(4) The Convener reported on expenditures from the Network to the AAAS to share the cost of the display table jointly used with Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith.
(5) Further discussion: how to make the listserv project a reality:
Questions about the meeting may sent by email to email@example.com.
|"What's the ID hubbub?"--forum at Ascension, NYC|
Thanks to recent media events across the country, Darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, and creationism are concepts and words swirling around once again in the forefront of public consciousness. The age-old debate between science, religion, and education continues to occupy our individual and collective thoughts.
People of differing stages and ages attended the 20/30s Forum, "Intelligent Design: What's all the Hubbub?" in the parish hall on January 25 to hear various perspectives offered on the topic by a panel of leading scholars and thinkers from across the academic and religious spectrum.
The program was moderated by Ronald Young, doctoral candidate in Anglican Studies at the General Theological Seminary and a member of Ascension. Members of the panel included Dr. Robert Pollack, formerly dean of Columbia College, professor of Biological Sciences, and director for the Center for the Study of Sciences and Religion at Columbia University, and adjunct professor at Union Theological Seminary; the Rev. Dr. Mary Foulke, associate for Christian Formation at St. Luke-in-the-Fields and chaplain to St. Luke's School; and Dr. Joseph C. Hough, president of Union Theological Seminary, where he is also the William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics. The presentations were interspersed with readings from Inherit the Wind, a play about the 1925 Tennessee vs John Scopes Trial, generally referred to as the "Monkey Trial."
Dr. Pollack spoke cogently about the juncture of "science and other intellectual and emotional domains, in particular religion." He further elaborated when the facts of science and the wisdom of religion are explored and able to identify blindnesses in each, a viable result may emerge. Mother Foulke addressed the juncture of science and faith in her personal background and the writings of the science fiction writer Octavia Butler, and how the two have managed to surface with an outlook on the ethics of each. Dr. Hough pointed out his concern in the current debate-- there persists a level of intolerance to various points of view--and his concern that the pedagogy shaping the future academic arena for his grandchildren will be crippled by a lack of openness and awareness.
Thanks to the presentation and questions raised by the audience, at the end of the evening we were all better informed about these concepts and there is little doubt the dialogue will continue for the days, months, and years ahead in and out of the church.
|Catechism of Creation goes to seminary|
The three of us met and came up with the idea of an after-dinner forum for the Thursday "Community Night" on 6 April.
Smith-Moran related how the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith came into being, and how the sub-committee on Creation responded to theologian Kendall Harmon's suggestion for a catechism of creation with much research and many drafts by lead writer Robert Schneider. She stressed the importance of communicating learnings in a form--and even with a font--that Episcopalians can easily recognize.
I offered an overview of the three sections of the catechism, highlighting aspects of the content and identifying groups with which they are being used. I also emphasized the challenge of preparing a middle-of-the-road document, while reflecting the range of theologies used by Episcopalians in the bibliography.
We then opened the forum for dialogue, sparked by Grau, on where we might go from here. What questions arise as we engage the Catechism, which topics need amplification in future editions, and what are related topics we might think about, or on which the church might want to produce similar documents?
Grau acknowledged the need for a centrist document, but expressed a wish for more process theology, more attention to eco-feminism, and a stronger challenge to anthropocentrism and the stewardship approach to nature. She also wondered about possibilities for connecting our understandings to the lenten message that "you are dust and to dust you shall return." How does taking the createdness of human nature seriously affect how we deal with burial practices, with responses to reproductive loss, and with disability?
A few students felt there was insufficient attention to the Fall and to original sin in the Catechism. While all acknowledged that more could be done, Grau challenged us to think about what question the doctrine of the Fall is an answer to, a helpful reframing of the critique.
Other topics which participants identified suggest areas where resources might be added to the ST&F webpage on the Episcopal Church site. The mind-brain relationship, the plethora of bioethics issues, nanotechnology and robotics, and implications of "evo-devo" for how we think about creation all came up.
[Joyce Wilding, a member of the Network's Steering Board, has plans to take the Catechism to Sewanee School of Theology (The University of the South) this fall as part of the ENTREAT program she directs there (see article in Vol. 3-2). We look forward to her report in the next issue. -Ed.]
and deep, deep, deep in the earth
rocks flow like water
in unimaginable heat that
changes their very nature
their molecular structure.
Below our feet. Below our
bended knees. One weakness
in the crust, the thin veil of
solidity, the illusion of soil and
rock. There is heat, flow,
currents of magnetism,
pulses of energy, while we
sleep and dream. One
weakness in the crust,
one fold, one slip, one fault,
and all that is solid melts into
itself, consumed by fire.
What world is this? Made
by what God, in what kind
of heaven enthroned?
The pulses stir, turn, twist
on themselves; seek weakness,
meet resistance, move on.
|Episcopal churches mark "Evolution Sunday"|
Sixty-four Episcopal Churches in 34 dioceses designated 12 February 2006 as "Evolution Sunday," proclaiming that "religion and science are not adversaries."
Created as part of the Clergy Letter Project (see Newsletter 4-2), the ecumenical service marked the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. It was celebrated by 433 congregations in 49 states representing the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, Unitarian, and other Protestant "mainline" traditions.
[To read the full article in The Living Church, go to http://www.livingchurch.org/publishertlc/viewarticle.asp?ID=1693.]
|In the Spotlight: Some Network members take a bow|
For this feature, we invite our members to introduce themselves with short biographies. Please send your own bio-sketch to the editor.
My name is Anne Wrider. I'm the Canon for Pastoral Care and Liturgy at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati. I've been this position for about 5 1/2 years. I coordinate the diocesan sexual abuse and misconduct prevention program.
I've been lurking around the edges of the Network for five or six years. My background is in social work and psychotherapy (quasi-science and not very technological either!), but I have an abiding fascination with systems theory, chaos theory and the like. I keep looking for the definitive link between systems theory and Christian theology, which I just know is there, but which seems difficult to get to without some reductionist analysis that fails both.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Tom Woolley. I am Professor of Statistics in the School of Business at Samford University http://faculty.samford.edu/~twwoolle, where I teach calculus and statistics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. My background is in the biological sciences with a Ph.D. in statistics; hence, for years I was a research biostatistician at a large academic medical center. Thirteen years ago I left (of my own free will, theologically speaking) that environment, tired of writing federal grant proposals, and came to Samford University, where I could teach and develop a research track in science & Christianity, as well as applied statistics (the School of Business is where there was a need for a full time statistician, so I've "re-tooled").
I look forward to getting to know many of you, learning from you, and hopefully having the opportunity to meet many of you!
I can be reached by email at email@example.com.
I'm Don Wacome. I teach philosophy at Northwestern College, in Orange City, Iowa. My areas are the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind, along with an interest in theology.
My current project is a book contending that a robust philosophical naturalism coheres much better with the Christian faith than is generally assumed. You can find the precis at http://home.nwciowa.edu/wacome/.
I'm a Lay Reader and Lay Preacher in the Diocese of Iowa, where my wife Karen is Vicar of St. George's in Le Mars. You can reach me by email at WACOME@nwciowa.edu.
I majored in chemistry at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, then went on to Harvard Univrsity to research the astrochemistry of small molecules in the interstellar medium. I got my M.A. and taught chemistry and astronomy for a number of years before starting my family.
I've been active in the science-and-religion field for 17 years, now, and have just recently resigned as Co-chair of the Executive Council's Committee on ST&F in order to begin studies for a D.Min. degree. I'm back in Berkeley, at CDSP, where I first studied Old and New Testament 23 years ago. For my dissertation, I will be researching the theory (including science and religion) and practice of forgiveness as part of restorative justice in parishes following clergy sexual misconduct.
This ST&F Network Newsletter is something I've been editing since its first issue back in November, 2001. Jim and I have two grown children, Susan and Michael.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Downloadable Network fliers in both Spanish and English|
Why not print out Science, Technology and Faith Network brochures for your parish or cathedral tract-rack? Help spread the word to those who wonder how Christian faith interacts with developments in science and technology. There is a real hunger among Episcopalians to be able to ask important questions about faithful living within contemporary society. The Network welcomes questioners.
The Network brochure is available both in Spanish and in English versions, as PDF files (Acrobat Reader required).
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