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Hearing Krista Tippet’s talk with Bill McKibben on today’s Speaking of Faith, is one more good sign that the critical intersection of faith and ecology is finally being brought to the attention of the general public. Today’s show arrives at the end of a week that began with USA Today running a substantial front-page article about religious leaders playing an active role in Copenhagen for the struggle against global warming. Finally, word is getting out about a story that for too long the popular media has either ignored or simply missed.

More than anything else, the challenge of climate change has brought religious communities on board to become environmentally active. But people people of faith who are responding to this threat have also recognized that there are multi-fold eco issues that must be addressed if we are to create a more sustainable future.

I'm Marty Ostrow, a documentary filmmaker, and I spent many years watching the quiet growth of an eco-spiritual movement that holds enormous promise for inspiring people to think and act deeply about our human relationship with the earth. Years ago I was strongly influenced by the writings of cultural historian Thomas Berry, who speaks about the deep bond that humans share with an interconnected emergent universe. His suggestion that we carry a psychic and spiritual intimacy with the universe, made me think differently about the environmental crisis. While I once saw it primarily as a question of science and technology, I later came to see it as a personal and spiritual issue.

My co-producer Terry Kay Rockefeller and I spent several years meeting and filming ordinary citizens of diverse faiths across the nation, who are making this spiritual connection with the planet, facing the difficult challenge of what it truly means to be human.

RENEWAL is the first feature-length film to tell the stories of America’s growing grassroots religious-environmental movement. Our documentary tells eight different stories, with each story set in a different religious tradition, in a different part of the country, addressing different environmental concerns.

A two minute trailer for RENEWAL is available here:

Bill McKibben has long recognized the essential role that people of faith can play in the effort to build a more sustainable future. He’s said this about RENEWAL:

"The religious environmental movement is potentially key to dealing with the greatest problem humans have ever faced, and it has never been captured with more breadth and force than in RENEWAL. I hope this movie is screened in church basements and synagogue social halls across the country, and that it moves many more people of faith off the fence and into action."

Last May, RENEWAL partnered with Bill McKibben and the campaign in a large interfaith event at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, in New York City. Bill was a guest speaker along with Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-coordinator of Yale’s Forum on Religion and Ecology. (The Forum, an interfaith multi-disciplinary project, has done more than any other academic institution for broadening an understanding of human-Earth relations while exploring comprehensive solutions to both global and environmental problems.)

RENEWAL was shown in its entirety and many people, inspired by the film and the interfaith religious setting, made a strong commitment to Bill’s Call to Action, for the International Day of Climate Action on October 24th.

In subsequent months, it’s been gratifying to see RENEWAL being used successfully as a catalyst for environmental action in many churches, synagogues, mosques, spiritual centers and schools across the country. We’re working hard to spread the word about the film because the film has proven to be a powerful portal to the religious-environmental movement and change.

As people are awakening to the promise of this multi-faith movement, we hope that SOF listeners will discover their own unique experiences of renewal, by exploring the sacred connections that we all share with the natural world.