For three days in May, over 60 scholars from around the globe attended an annual symposium sponsored by Nazareth College’s Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and the Department of Religious Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY.
Sacred Texts and Human Contexts: Nature and Environment in World Religions
Held at pristine Nazareth College, the Sacred Texts and Human Contexts conference focused on the topic of world religions and their perspectives on the environment.
According to the Center’s website, “The industrial revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries, abuse of power and human greed, and continuing population explosion in many countries have all contributed to an environmental crisis that threatens the sustainability of life on planet earth as we know it. Our reliance on fossil fuels, our creation of immense quantities of waste products, and our destruction of natural resources to fuel our consumer economies have led to global warming, a reduction in biodiversity and a serious threat to long-term environmental sustainability. This environmental catastrophe challenges religious communities to respond out of the wisdom of their traditions.”
As one of the invited photographers I had the rare opportunity to document as much of the three day event as possible. This meant that I could bounce between different rooms or stay put for an entire session. I had the chance to photograph and film attendees, presenters, and some of the world’s finest religious scholars up close and personal.
In doing so, I tried my best to capture the spirit of curiosity, friendliness, and expertise that pervaded this gathering. From my vantage point behind the optical nerve center of my computer’s flip jacket, it was truly beautiful to witness so many gifted minds working on the most pressing problems of our age. After-all, if we can not figure out how to love ourselves, each other, and the planet, then we are all doomed. That said, kudos to all of the organizations who came together to make this historic convention possible.
Why Rochester, New York
As the Rochester area moves from one kind of manufacturing to another, and as the educational and agricultural sectors continue to thrive in Western New York, interest in environmental preservation and the development of sustainable practices has increased.
The rich traditions of care and reverence for the earth of the Haudenosaunee peoples continue to affect attitudes here.
After long public debate, the State of New York has chosen not to pursue hydraulic fracturing technology for resource extraction, at least until there is definitive proof that our rich water resources will not be threatened.
The depth and long duration of interfaith activity in the Rochester area, along with our concerns for the earth, provide many local resources that will enrich the conference deliberations.