Lutheran Studies Conference
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The one thing necessary for life – fresh and drinkable water – is rapidly becoming a scarce resource throughout the world. Indeed, without water, there is no flourishing life in the fields, among earth’s creatures, and within the human community.
For those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by fresh-water lakes, rivers, streams, glaciers, and aquifers, a water crisis may be the last thing on our minds. Yet according to the United Nations Environment Program, 200 scientists in 50 countries have identified water shortage and global warming as the two primary and urgent challenges of the new millennium. Indeed, humans have less than 0.08 percent of the earth’s water available for use, yet over the next decade, human use will increase by at least 40 percent.
At the same time, humans use approximately 70 percent of the available fresh water supply for agriculture. But by 2020, we will need close to 20 percent more water than is available if all humans are to have sufficient food. If we continue in current patterns of water consumption – in the United States and abroad – many more millions will go to bed hungry and thirsty each night.
This increasingly limited gift is the focus of this first Lutheran Studies Conference at Pacific Lutheran University. Participants will explore the theological, sacramental, and ethical sources which shape contemporary concerns for the gift and use of water.
1:00 p.m. Registration and refreshments in the Scandinavian Cultural Center
1:45 p.m. Welcome by Dr. Steve Starkovich, Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
Presentation by Dr. Samuel Torvend, University Professor of Lutheran Studies
What ecological wisdom might we find in Luther’s theology of water in creation?
Luther’s revolutionary shift from a world-escaping to a world-engaged faith serves as the framework for his theology of water in creation. His careful study of the Bible and his awareness of the human capacity to horde earth’s treasures became the matrix in which his theology of creation developed over a twenty period. This presentation will ask how those concerns might offer ecological wisdom for those of us who live with an acute sense of earth’s limits and our commitment to a sustainable future.
Dr. Torvend ’73 is a University Professor of Lutheran Studies and Professor of the History of Christianity. He is the author of Luther and the Hungry Poor: Gathered Fragments (Fortress, 2008) and articles on Christian sources of green faith. Dr. Torvend received the Master of Divinity from Wartburg Seminary (1978), the Master of Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology (1980), and the Doctor of Philosophy (Historical Theology) from Saint Louis University (1990).
3:00 p.m. Coffee break and book display
3:15 p.m. Presentation by Dr. Kevin O'Brien, PLU Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Justice rolling like waters: Environment and ethics in Bonhoeffer, King, and Chávez
This presentation focuses on three Christian leaders who recognized the relationship between social justice and environmental health. Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued that Christian ethics means committing “to the earth.” King quoted the prophet Amos's call for justice to “roll down like waters” as a force that can work its way into any social system. Chávez sought to reform agricultural policies and an essential part of that reform was rethinking water policies. In all three leaders, water seeps through their words and public commitments.
Dr. Kevin O’Brien is chair of PLU’s Sustainability Committee and teacher in the Environmental Studies Program at PLU. His expertise is in Christian ethics with a specialization in environmental ethics. He is the author of An Ethics of Biodiversity: Christianity, Ecology, and the Variety of Life (Georgetown, 2010). He is a graduate of Earlham College (1999) and holds the Master of Theology from Union Theological Seminary (2001) and the Doctor of Philosophy from Emory University (2006).
4:15 p.m. Coffee break and book display
4:30 p.m. Presentation by Dr. Rose McKenney, PLU Associate Professor of Geosciences
Water sustainability initiatives at Pacific Lutheran University
An expert in hydrology, Dr. McKenney will introduce participants to the water systems in and around the university and present the challenges involved in promoting water sustainability in Parkland.
Dr. McKenney has been teaching in the PLU Geosciences Department since 2002. She also teaches in the Environmental Studies Program and serves on the university’s Sustainability Committee. She has published extensively on snowmelt and run-off, water sustainability, and stream ecology and conservation. She is a graduate of Oregon State University and holds the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from Pennsylvania State University (1992, 1997).
5:30 p.m. Dinner on one's own in the University Dining Commons or Garfield Street restaurants
7:30 p.m. Keynote lecture by Dr. Benjamin Stewart, the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago
Sacred Seas, Healing Rivers: Lutheran resources for engaging water in an ecological age