Lenten Bible "Detox": Toward the Liberation of all Creation -- Reading Romans 8:21 in its Imperial Context

Lenten Bible "Detox"

March 14, 2023, 7:30pm Eastern Time

Each Lent, CLBSJ focuses our attention on the misuse of the Bible to promote and justify violence and oppression. All are welcome on this journey of healing and reclaiming.

Is creation in a state of “bondage to decay” (Rom 8:21, NRSV), or is it “enslaved to destruction”? In this session, Dr. Presian Burroughs will show that the first and common translation, which has been so toxic to how Christians view the Earth, is fundamentally flawed. She will argue that the second translation expresses the thrust of Paul’s message to the congregations of ancient Rome even as it speaks a word of critique to the political and social powers of his day—and ours. Drawing from her recently published book, Creation’s Slavery and Liberation: Paul’s Letter to Rome in the Face of Imperial and Industrial Agriculture, Dr. Burroughs will engage with the epistolary, political, and ecological contexts of Romans 8:19-22 to demonstrate that, according to Paul, it is human injustice and impiety that fuel creation’s destruction — and our actions that might also set it free.

Dr. Burroughs will be joined in dialogue with Dr. Erin Lothes, who will share perspectives rooted in her work in the Laudato Si Movement.

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Dr. Presian Burroughs fell in love with God’s Word & creation while growing up in northeast Ohio on a small farm. Having studied biology as an undergrad, she received her Doctor of Theology degree in New Testament Studies and Ecological Theology from Duke Divinity School and has served the academy, church, and non-profit sector. Dr. Burroughs inspires God’s people to live according to God’s work of creational liberation through her writing, teaching, and living. In addition to the book under discussion in this session, her recent publications include Practicing with Paul, and “A Wesleyan Ecological Hermeneutic: Interpreting Scripture, Science, & Society Ecologically.”

Dr. Erin Lothes is a Senior Manager at the Laudato Si Animators Program and an Associate Professor of Theology at Saint Elizabeth University. She is the author of Inspired Sustainability: Planting Seeds for Action (Orbis 2016) which analyzes the factors empowering faith-based environmentalism, and the lead author of “Catholic Moral Traditions and Energy Ethics for the Twenty-First Century.” A leader in the field of energy ethics, Lothes has participated in the activism of the interfaith environment movement since 2003, working with groups such as GreenFaith, the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, the Catholic Climate Covenant, and the Laudato Si Movement.