Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Earth Week

In honor of Earth Day on Friday, the Global Institute at Thiel College is celebrating Earth Week by having guest speakers each night this week. On Monday it was Cynthia Moe-Lobeda speaking about global economics and Christian faith. Last night the Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson delivered a speech entitled "Our Crying World." (More on him in a moment.) Tonight Lisa Bellanger, the former Director of the Indigenous Women's Network and an Associate of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center, will hold forth on "The Earth's Cry for Human Rights." Finally, tomorrow night Dr. Roger S. Gottlieb, a Jewish socialist environmentalist and professor of philosophy at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, will deliver a speech entitled "The Promises of Religious Environmentalism." Following his speech will be a performance by the African musician SAMITE. (I have heard him before, and he is excellent.) So it is a busy week and a good one for the life of the mind in Greenville, PA.

So last night Matthew Johnson delivered a powerful speech about the sickness prevailing in our society today. One point he made was about the impediments to progressive change in our current context. He identified three main forms: people are 1. too comfortable, 2. afraid, or 3. distracted. On the third form, he discussed the "media intensive" environment in which we live and have consciousness, and described how this condition leads us to focus on the wrong issues. Paradoxically, his point about the distractedness of today's youth seemed to meet the focused attention of our college audience and resonated. He is a gifted communicator. If you are ever in Atlanta, be sure to go to Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in College Park to hear him preach, and get there early because it is standing room only. For any University of Chicago readers out there, you may know him from his days at the Divinity School (he finished in 1991), or from his return visit to preach and lecture (in the late '90s).


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