Stanley L. Olsen
Augustana Academy for Seniors
Program for Fall 2003: Facing the New Frontiers
Wed 17 Sept 2003
Our Cosmic Neighborhood:
Prof. Emeritus, Chemistry
Powers of 10 -- Images of our cosmic neighborhood
Version 1 -- Molecular Expressions
Version 2 -- Powersof10.com
Version 3 -- Quarks to Quasars
Version 4 -- Powers of Ten - CERN
Sky and Telecscope
Cosmology: The Study of the Universe
Sittler delivered one of the main addresses at the Third Assembly, World Council of Churches (WCC), New Delhi, India, on November 21, 1961.
Joseph A. Sittler, "Called to Unity," The Ecumenical
Review, 14 (January 1962): 177-87.
This address is summarized by Lukas Vischer
Sittler stated: "In propositional form it is simply this: a doctrine of redemption is meaningful only when it swings within the larger orbit of a doctrine of creation. For God's creation of earth cannot be redeemed in any intelligible sense of the word apart from a doctrine of the cosmos which is his home, his definite place, the theatre of his selfhood under God, in corporation with his neighbour, and in caring relationship with nature, his sister."
The Cosmic Christ
Linda Marie Dellof, Beyond Stewardship: A Theology for Nature
Sittler served for many years on the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. In 1961, he delivered a landmark address to the WCC Assembly in New Delhi, India. Reprinted many times since, that speech dropped a bombshell with its seemingly radical argument that "the way forward is from Christology expanded to its cosmic dimensions, made passionate by the pathos of this threatened earth, and made ethical by the love and the wrath of God." For years, ecumenical circles reverberated with discussions of "the New Delhi speech."
Sittler biographical sketch and theological impact
Joseph Sittler, The Ecology of Faith, 1961
Joseph Sittler, Evocations of Grace: Writings on Ecology, Theology and Ethics, Ed. Steven Bouma-Prediger and Peter Bakken, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000.
James Childs, Sittler Inaugural Lecture
Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler wrote, "I have never been able to entertain a God-idea which was not integrally related to the fact of chipmunks, squirrels, hippopotamuses, galaxies, and light-years."
Barbara Brown Taylor, The Luminous Web: Essays on Science and Religion, Cowley Publications, 2000.
Barbara Brown Taylor, Physics and Faith: The Luminous Web, Christian Century, 116 (17) June 2-9, 1999, pp 612-619. [Religion-online reprint.]
It is not enough for me to proclaim that God is responsible for all this unity. Instead, I want to proclaim that God is the unity -- the very energy, the very intelligence, the very elegance and passion that make it all go. This is the God who is not somewhere (up there, down here) but everywhere, the God who may be prayed to in all directions at once. This is also the God beyond all directions, who will still be here (wherever "here" means) when the universe either dissipates into dust or swallows itself up again. Paul Tillich's name for this divine reality was "the ground of being." The only thing I can think of that is better than that is the name God revealed to Moses: "I Am Who I Am."
Orvis Hanson, (1918-1994)
Lutheran Pastor, Missionary to China, Augustana Religion Professor (served 1957-1983)
Orvis M. Hanson, Music
of the Rolling Spheres, Photocopy, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002.
Creator of the Rolling Spheres,
Curious minds you have given us,
Thanks for the mystery of your being,
Religion is the music of the Cosmos. The experience of the essential harmony of all that is constitutes a religious experience. Such an experience may result in awe in the presence of such greatness, or it may bring humility as one reflects on the relative insignificance of the individual. Religion is the human experience of self in the midst of "the many." Such a one know[s] there is no such thing as being alone in the universe. (p. 13)
Before I came to college I became interested in astronomy, but the vastness of the universe with its millions of light-years could not be reconciled with the six "day" creation unless it could be assumed that God created a universe to "look like it was very old" when in fact it was not. This assumption assailed my concept of God, God does not deceive. The evidence of vast space needing millions of years for light to cross through it, opened my mind to possibilities which my religious teachings up to that time had not allowed. It still took many years before biological evolution seemed to me to be the best interpretation of origins. (p. 65-66)
We should not be so concerned with people we forget the rest of God's creation, the animals, fish, birds, etc. God is concerned about their welfare. Can Christians avoid being environmentalists? The care of the earth has been given to our race and through us God will exercise at least part of this concern. The world is not ours to own and do with as we please. God is our landlord! (p. 117)
But as far as possible, we should live at peace with all people and let truth have its own way in God's own time. Would that we, as individuals and as communities, on occasion, could doubt our own infallibility! (p. 194)
Citizens of the Cosmos, arise and take up the tasks of living where you are. Be people of peace who make peace. Be people of faith who know in whom they believe and on whom they depend. Be people of hope who "lean into the future" (p. 210)
Psalm 104 - a favorite Psalm of Joseph Sittler
Thursday 18 Sept 2003: Reading and discussion