Published | Quakers, Ecology, & the Light

Quakers, Ecology, & the Light was released today! I co-authored this book with my good friend, Christy Randazzo. A few years ago, we were talking about the Quaker metaphor of the Light, and how this could be a really useful and meaningful metaphor that can help Friends (Quakers) develop a robust ecotheology from within our tradition. And thus, this book idea was formed!

The main point we’re making is that if we consider light as a metaphor for God, the Spirit, or the Inward Christ, as Friends tend to do, we can gain a lot from considering it more holistically. Light does not only impact people, and so although we have tended to interpret the Inward Light fairly anthropocentrically (with a focus on people), light moves through the whole ecosystem and makes life possible on this planet. The energy that is light transforms into living plants and other life on Earth. Humanity could not exist here without light, and without the other species and earth processes that transform light into usable nutrients, and then back into soil. Read this way, we are able to see how the community of all life participates in the new creation, and human beings get to be participants in that community, but we are not the only ones. We are interdependent with other species; we need a thriving Earth community.

When I have described this premise to Friends, many have said variations on, “Wow, I have never thought of that before, and yet it is so obvious now that I think about it!” We hope this will help Friends see ourselves in relation to the rest of the natural world in new ways, and that this will help us understand our way forward by developing a particularly Quaker ecotheology.

Here is the abstract from the book:

As the community of life on this planet experiences the anthropogenic climate crisis, what tools from faith traditions can help us meet the coming challenges? By expanding the metaphor of light within the Christian and Quaker traditions to include light’s role in ecosystems, this project develops an ecotheology of light that aims to answer this question. The authors draw on their contexts in the Religious Society of Friends, placing the Quaker Inward Light in dialogue with the Bible, and light in Eastern Orthodox, ecological, and interdependence theologies.

The Quaker ecotheology of light developed argues Light is a vitally important and mutually translatable metaphor providing a common language that can aid humanity, reinterpreting traditions to meet this moment with spiritual grounding to transition to a just and sustainable future for the Earth, our common home. This ecotheology of light is connected with implications for Friends testimonies.

Quakers, Ecology, & the Light, Cherice Bock and Christy Randazzo, 2023

Though this book is really too expensive for me to recommend anyone buy it, I hope Quaker meetings and libraries might consider purchasing a copy so local Friends can take turns reading it. There will be a digital version available at some point as well.

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