Robert Redford’s Sundance Channel has become the first cable network to intentionally devote a portion of its weekly primetime broadcasting to “green programming. Most of the programs are documentary in nature but all focus on the effects of global warming on our planet and what we can do to curb those effects. A more “practical” program is Big Ideas for a Small Planet. Last week’s episode was entitled “Pray” and focused on faith-based responses to global warming.
The show was comprised of three ideas, and each idea focused on a particular individual or group who embodied it. The first idea, Multi-faith Green Preaching, centered on an inter-faith group called Green Faith from Plainfield, NJ, lead by Reverend Fletcher Harper. Green Faith focuses on the importance of educating all faith communities on the danger our environment is in and what they can do to help. This portion of the program followed Rev. Harper as he spoke in Muslim mosques, Christian churches, and Jewish synagogues. These images witness to the importance of instilling environmentally friendly thoughts and actions in our children’s lives.
The second idea, Faith-based Protest, centered on Julia Bonds of the Coal River Mountain Watch group in Whitesville, WV. Bonds and her group fight the coal industry and strip mining that are destroying the mountains and forests around her home. Bonds speaks confidently and often about the influence of her religious heritage and the motivation that she finds in scripture to fuel her protests. Along with organizing protests, she too travels to schools and religious communities to spread her message of active resistance to environmental destruction or as she phrases it, “The destruction of God’s body.”
Idea 3 takes its name from Eternal Reefs, a company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, that mixes cremated ashes with concrete to create artificial reefs that renew aquatic life. These Swiss-cheese-looking igloos include a bronze plaque that commemorates the life of the deceased. Eternal Reefs has experienced much success and is looking forward to even greater success in the future, no doubt thanks to the advertisement that this program has given them.
Though these three ideas may seem different in practice, they all answer the question posed at the beginning of the program, “Is there a spiritual connection between humans and our planet?” In light of these stories, the answer obviously has to be a resounding YES! Along with these ministers, the program includes interviews with Jerome Ringo of Apollo Alliance, an Ecological Minister, Rev. Sally Bingham, and author Dr. David Suzuki. This is a wonderful program that portrays ministers actually doing something effective in the world without coming off as crazy. Each person interviewed in the program truly believes that the issue of global warming and environmental stewardship will unite religious communities and the human community like never before. Here’s hoping that they’re right!
A repeat of this program airs today at 3:00 and 4:30. Sundance’s environmental programming, The Green, airs Tuesday nights beginning at 9:00.