Students at Union Theological Seminary prayed to a display of plants set up in the chapel of the school, prompting the institution to issue a statement explaining the practice as many on social media mocked them.
“Today in chapel, we confessed to plants,” the nation’s oldest independent seminary declared Tuesday on Twitter. “Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?”
The ceremony, which is part of professor Claudio Carvalhaes’ class “Extractivism: A Ritual/Liturgical Response,” drew ridicule from many on Twitter, some of whom accused the seminary and students of having lost their minds.
In response, the seminary’s Twitter account began retweeting users who defended the ritual and also issued a statement spanning a lengthy 10-tweet thread.
“We’ve had many questions about yesterday’s chapel,” the statement read in part. “In worship, our community confessed the harm we’ve done to plants, speaking directly in repentance. This is a beautiful ritual.”
“We are in the throes of a climate emergency, a crisis created by humanity’s arrogance, our disregard for Creation,” the statement continued. “Far too often, we see the natural world only as resources to be extracted for our use, not divinely created in their own right—worthy of honor, thanks and care. We need to unlearn habits of sin and death. And part of that work must be building new bridges to the natural world. And that means creating new spiritual and intellectual frameworks by which we understand and relate to the plants and animals with whom we share the planet.”
Encouraging churches to turn from “theologies that encourage humans to dominate and master the Earth,” Union asserted that “we must birth new theology, new liturgy to heal and sow, replacing ones that reap and destroy.”
“No one would have blinked if our chapel featured students apologizing to each other,” the statement went on. “What’s different (and the source of so much derision) is that we’re treating plants as fully created beings, divine Creation in its own right—not just something to be consumed. Because plants aren’t capable of verbal response, does that mean we shouldn’t engage with them? So, if you’re poking fun, we’d ask only that you also spend a couple moments asking: Do I treat plants and animals as divinely created beings?”
Confessing to the plants was “just one expression of worship here at Union,” a spokesperson for the seminary told the Washington Examiner. “Union Theological Seminary is grounded in the Christian tradition, and at the same time deeply committed to inter-religious engagement. Union’s daily chapel is, by design, a place where people from all the wondrous faith traditions at Union can express their beliefs. And, given the incredible diversity of our community, that means worship looks different every day!”
“One day, you may come in to find a traditional Anglican communion, another day you may enter into a service of Buddhist meditation or Muslim prayer,” the spokesperson continued. “Another, you may find a Pentecostal praise service or a silent Quaker meeting. We create a home where people can worship side by side, in traditions similar to and very different to their own. Through this process, we learn from our neighbors and discern our own faith more deeply.”
Affiliated with neighboring Columbia University in Upper Manhattan, Union became the nation’s first independent seminary in 1893 when it sundered from the Presbyterian Church after the denomination tried to oust one of its professors for claiming the Bible is not inspired by God, among other things.
German pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer was among the school’s more famous alumni, who left after escaping the Third Reich to teach there briefly in 1939. Appalled by the liberalism of its students, Bonhoeffer wrote they “are completely clueless with respect to what dogmatics is really about. They are not familiar with even the most basic questions. They become intoxicated with liberal and humanistic phrases, are amused at the fundamentalists, and yet basically are not even up to their level.”
Bonhoeffer remembered that students “openly [laughed]” at a lecture on sin and forgiveness, and accused the seminary of having “forgotten what Christian theology in its very essence stands for.” Disillusioned, he decided to return to Germany to resist the Nazi regime, where he was executed at the Flossenbürg concentration camp in 1945 for his role in the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Over 8,000 Palestinians take part in
76 said hurt by IDF fire as rioters attack soldiers with explosive devices and rocks, attempt to sabotage fence
Over 8,000 Palestinians took part in weekly protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Friday afternoon.
Some of the Gazans attacked Israeli soldiers with improvised explosive devices and rocks, and others attempted to sabotage the security fence.
Palestinians reported that 76 people were hurt by the IDF response, 48 of them from live fire.
The demonstrations come after a week in which seven Palestinians were wounded when a rocket fired from the Strip towards Israel exploded near a house inside the coastal enclave.
Palestinian eyewitnesses said two of the three rockets struck outside a home in the southern city of Rafah Wednesday, and a third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Last Friday, several thousand Palestinians protested along the Gaza border, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that war with terror groups in the Gaza Strip could break out “at any moment.”
Some 4,000 people took part in the demonstrations, with several hundred rioting and throwing rocks and explosive devices at Israel Defense Forces troops who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 30 people had been wounded, including 15 from live fire.
Earlier in the month two Palestinian teens were killed in clashes which the IDF called “especially violent.”
Hezbollah says Iran would destroy Saudi Arabia in any war
Lebanon’s Hezbollah warned Saudi Arabia on Friday against betting on a war against Iran because it would destroy the kingdom and said Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates should halt the conflict in Yemen to protect themselves.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group, also said new air defenses could not easily defend Saudi Arabia from the type of drones used in a Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi oil installations.
Tensions have spiked in the region since the attacks that officials in Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran, which has denied involvement. Responsibility was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement, an Iran-aligned group fighting a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen’s civil war.
Hezbollah is a heavily armed Shi’ite group set up by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982 and a major part of a Tehran-backed regional alliance.
“Don’t bet on a war against Iran because they will destroy you,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Noting that the attack had initially halved Saudi oil output, he added: “Your house is made of glass and your economy is made of glass. Like the glass cities in the UAE.”
Nasrallah said the attacks on the Aramco installations showed the strength of the Iran-backed alliance and that new air defences could not easily defend Saudi Arabia given its size and the manoeuvrability of the drones used.
New air defences would “be very expensive and it will be of no use”, he said. His advice to both Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates was to instead stop the war in Yemen.
Noting threats by the Houthi movement against the UAE, he added: “The thing that will protect the installations and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the UAE is halting the war against the Yemeni people
(Express) – Horrifying footage shows the locations that would initially be targeted in a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, with 34million people being killed in less than five hours. Princeton University researchers released the bleak video simulation, which lays bare how a nuclear war between Russia and the US would unfold. Towards the start of the video, titled Plan A, Russia sends 3000 nuclear warcraft to NATO bases across Europe. The simulation then shows London and surrounding areas targeted, with the whole European continent being wiped out in just three hours, with an estimated 2.6million killed or injured.
The boy’s father is now in jail for a shooting in retaliation of his sons slaying.