Eco-Spirituality, Choosing Religious Leaders, and More

When it comes to caring about the environment, we don’t have an apathy problem–we have a story problem. The narrative we tell ourselves about where we come from is often disconnected from the story of plants, animals and oceans. And it’s removed from the grand narrative of the cosmos: the planets, the stars and space.

There’s a more compelling way of understanding our origins. Some, like the late theologian Thomas Berry, call it “The New Story.”

Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis, co-founder of Genesis Farm
David Loy, social activist and Zen Buddhism teacher

This week, as Catholic Cardinals decide who will become the next pope, we find out how other religious leaders are chosen, like the Coptic pope. Since 1959, the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians has been chosen by a blindfolded altar boy, who reaches inside a chalice and draws from a selection of three. Last November, Coptic Christians named their 118th pope, who took the name Tawadros II.

From the election of the Coptic pope, we move to the search for the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. Each Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of the previous one, creating a long continuous line of leaders. How he’s discovered is a centuries-old tradition, complete with sacred hints, rigorous tests, and a search party in disguise.

Donald Lopez, professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan

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