Hedgerow Initiative: Evolution and the Christian Creed in Dialogue: Elizabeth Johnson's Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love

Mondays, September 22 to December 8, 2014, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

The Hedgerow Initiative offers sustained, systematic programming in feminist theological education, spiritual integration, and leadership for a just and holy world.

In a particular way, the Initiative highlights the scholarship of women, who since the 1950s, have worked to reclaim women's presence and significance in scripture, church, history, theology, and culture.

The Initiative takes its name from the hedge schools in Ireland that kept alive the language, faith, culture, and community of the people during the time of the British penal codes.  A hedgerow is both a biosphere and a haven.

Evolution is the unfolding story in which we humans live, move, and have our being.  We open our hearts and minds to the mystery of G*d, seeking existential footing and purpose in a cosmos infinitely small, infinitely large, and infinitely diverse.

Some folks put feet and the name Darwin on the ichthus or fish emblems that display the acronym for Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Savior for Christians.  Ichthus is the Greek word for "fish."   Some suppose irreconcilable conflict between theology and science, but not theologian and former science teacher Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, PhD, and not the observant biologist with the loving eye who sailed the world exploring how birds and beasts originate and diversify—Charles Darwin.

 “But now ask the beasts to teach you,” reads Job 12. Johnson’s book Ask the Beasts imagines a dialogue between Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and the Christian story of the ineffable God of mercy and love in the Nicene Creed. For Johnson, science and religion are in communion, not conflict. The fall Hedgerow seminar will join in the dialogue, and explore ways in which a deeper love of the natural world is intrinsic to faith in God and ecological care is a moral imperative.

Schedule & Topics:

September 22: Beasts and Entangled Bank: A Dialogue For the Sake of the Intelligibility of Belief and the Basis for Right Moral Action

September 29: The Beholder and the Book: Voyage of the Beagle and On the Origin of Species

October 6: “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”

October 13: Evolution of the Theory: A Tree of Life and Kinship, an Inextricable Web of Affinities

October 20: A Cosmic Lens, an Ecological Lens, a Theological Lens

October 27: The Dwelling Place of God: Vivifying Spirit in the Natural World

November 3:  How God Acts: Free, Empowered Creation

November 10: All Creation Groaning and an Infinitely Compassionate Presence

November 17: Bearer of Great Promise: the Cruciform World Lives the Promise of Resurrection

*Due to the cancellation of the November 10th class, the topics for November 10th and Novebmer 17th will be integrated.

November 24:  Enter the Humans, Creative Fidelity to Earth’s Well-Being

December 1: The Communion of Creation: A Vision of a Flourishing Humanity on a Thriving Planet Rich in Species in an Evolving Cosmos Filled with the Glory of God

December 8: Project Presentations

Download the Fall 2014 Syllabus


Susan Hames, CSJ, ABD; Rev. Barbara Lund; Jill Welter, Ph.D.; Katherine McLaughlin, CSJ, Ph.D.; Mary Kaye Medinger, Consociate, MA; Joan Mitchell, CSJ, Ph.D.; Catherine Steffens, CSJ, MA; Joan Pauly Schneider, Consociate, M.Div.

Required Text:

Weekly topics follow the chapter headings of Ask the Beasts, available from www.goodgroundpress.com (800-232-5533) or Wisdom Ways.

About the author: Before she began probing evolution, Elizabeth Johnson reimagined God from the perspective of women's experience in She Who Is and challenged theological frontiers in Quest for the Living God. The distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University has received numerous awards and is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood. 

WHEN: Mondays, September 22 to December 8, 2014, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

COST: $25.00 per session

Hedgerow sessions have ended for Fall 2014. Check back soon for our Winter Spring 2015 Hedgerow offering!