Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Turtle Island Project Director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard on a North American Theology

Some Thoughts on a North America Theology

By Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard, director/co-founder of the Turtle Island Project

As a child I was raised in a very conservative German Lutheran, tradition.

By the eighth grade, I knew Dr. Martin Luther's small catechism by heart.

I have at one time or another been a member of the MS, LCA, AELC, and ELCA.

In addition, I have had an active life in the ecumenical and inter faith communities, and served as the marketing director for the Parliament of World's Religions.
All of this is to say, that I think I have a pretty good understanding of the theological spectrum of contemporary Christianity.

I assume that many of us in this room share the belief that, Christianity is at a cross roads, a juncture in it’s history, where two distinct paths lie before it.
One leads to a nondogmatic, nontraditional understanding of the faith: normned by the teachings of Jesus, and tolerant of other religions.
This pathway is developing in, with, and under the various grass roots movements of the church, and is often referred to as the church emergent.

The other path way is concerned with circling the theological wagons of dogmatism, confessionalism and fundamentalism.

This movement is helping to bring about, what I believe is a disturbing convergence between politics and religion on issues concerning abortion, homosexuality and the separation of church and state.

Often referred to as “Evangelical Protestantism” it’s basic conservative political and religious values are also found in catholic and mainline protestant traditions.

Strange bedfellows, but nevertheless united in the reification of their own religious metaphor, and their intolerance of other religions.

Circling the wagons in this fashion is, I suppose, a predictable reaction from those of us, like myself, who have traditionally benefited from the political structures of the church.

Not only have we enjoyed political power within the church, we have been in the position to determine the very meaning of the Gospel by interpreting it through the eyes of our own Euro-American Christian traditions.
However, today, many of us find ourselves having to share our theological toys with other of God’s children who have different skin colors, genders, languages, sexual orientations, and theological ideologies; ideologies arising from their own communities of origin.

Those who have had power and control of the church, must now scoot over and make room for them in our pews; and maybe, heaven forbid, actually open our ears, and our hearts to their testimony, and to the witness of the love of God in their lives, not just ours.

Steve Charleston, who is a member of the Choctaw Nation and the current Dean of The Episcopal Divinity in Cambridge Mass. Wrote a wonderful article titled “The Old Testament of Native America” in that article he wrote:

"The fact is that Christians must permit the same right for other peoples that they have claimed for themselves. God was as present among the tribes of Africa as God was present among the tribes of America, as God was present among the tribes of Israel. Consequently, we must be cautious about saying that God was unique to any one people; God was in a special relationship to different tribes or in a particular relationship with them, but never in an exclusive relationship that shut out the rest of humanity."

Now we can circle our theological wagons around whatever centers of authority we believe will stop the natural evolution of religious consciousness.

We can act as if we can define and confine God's revelation in Christ to our understanding of scripture and tradition.

We can ignore our God given and revelatory human reason, and confine the living Christ to the archaic cosmologies and tribal hatreds of people living in first century Palestine.

The fact of the matter is that religious consciousness, like the rest of nature evolves.

Historic religious consciousness emerged from pre historic religious consciousness, and today, many of us are living proof of the fact that our understanding of history, as well as our understanding of God is undergoing a radical transformation.

We not only stand on the brink of a communications revolution in this country, but a fundamental spiritual transformation.

Certainly part of that transformation involves the transcendence of traditional Euro-American thought forms, be they philosophical, theological or political.

My own contribution to this transcendence of the spirit, by the spirit and for the spirit, centers primarily on inter faith issues, and specifically on the relationship between Native American religious forms of thought and Christianity.

My interest is both practical and theoretical.

I not only think and write about these issues, but also have the good fortune to have Lakota friends of the Sicangu tribe, who allow me to participate as much as I can, or should, in their life.

Through my relationship with them I have learned more about what it means to be a religious person, than in my academic careers or my years in the Lutheran ministry.

I have learned that spiritual wisdom is not the sole possession of any one people. But rather, wisdom is the recognition of the multicultural and dialogical nature of truth. It is the opening of the heart and mind to the genius and insight of the “other.”

It is a belief that truth will be found within the collective wisdom of our shared religious experiences, and not solely the possession of one particular tribal or cultural revelation.

It is my sincere belief that Christianity must once and for all renounce its religious imperialistic tendencies. That individual Christians must reconsider their anthropocentric anthropologies and rediscover their proper and most natural kinship with all of creation.

In short, we need to developed theologies based on the primacy of nature over history, and the subsequent importance of spatial metaphors for envisioning the God /World relationship.

It is just such theologies which are emerging in the Native American Theological community; and it is by listening to their voices, that the possibility of a new North American Theology can emerge, a theology which is truly multicultural, and dialogical in nature, a theology of this place, North America and for this time, the 21st. century.

Thoughts from Turtle Island Project Director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard: "Conference on Celtic Spirituality, Ecology, and Participative Consciousness"

"Interglacial Theology"

Theological reflections within the limits and boundaries of place

Written in honor of the "Conference on Celtic Spirituality, Ecology, and Participative Consciousness" held on September 13, 2007 in
Munising, MI
By Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard, director and co-founder of the Turtle Island Project in Michigan's Upper Peninusla
Religion and language share many characteristics, not the least of which, is that they are both cultural expressions of meaning.
They are formed and expressed within specific contexts or "places" of origin. Like languages, religions are particular expressions of shared meanings.
Like languages, religions can understand one another, because they share a common meaning.
That is, they attempt to replicate between individuals either a direct perception or some "sentient derivation" of the shared experience of what we call God, or the Great Spirit, Wakan Tonka, Kitche Manitou.
Like languages, religions can be classified by their places of origin.
We speak, for example, of Romance languages, and by that, we mean a family of languages that share a linguistic "stock," in other words, they share common origins, places, - a cultural milieu.
Religions sharing the same cultural milieu, also share a common religious "stock."
They share a similar religious vocabulary, religious grammar and syntax.
Like languages, religions also change and evolve, in accordance with both spatial and temporal dynamics. One way that spatial evolution can occur within a religion is when it leaves its "place" of origin.
Compare for example, Mediterranean Christianity to Northern European Christianity; compare American Christianity to African or Latin American Christianity; compare Zen Buddhism to the traditional forms of Asian Buddhism.
This form of spatial evolution, also involves temporality.
People change places over time, they travel and religions and languages travel with them. As a matter of fact, today’s forms of Buddhism in America are bringing about changes in the way Buddhism is practiced in the homelands of Asia.
Not only does religion travel, it can also come back home to it’s culture of origin, and in fact, change the original forms and structures of its parent religion.
Like languages, religions also develop in accordance with their own, intrinsic, cultural evolution. Compare the English spoken by Elizabethan Londoners with today’s English speakers.
Or compare the German of Goethe to the modern day German vernacular.
Religions also develop in this way, within the cultural context of it’s own people, while not having to leave home.
The Judeo-Christian religion is a perfect example of a religion which has undergone many changes in accordance with the various cosmologies influencing it’s own cultural development.
Although able to retain it’s own cultural integrity, it was heavily influenced by the Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Latin cultures throughout its history.
For example, it is quite clear that the cosmologies of the Old Testament, when God’s would walk on earth, fornicate with earthly women, live on tops of mountains, and drop in for a quick meal, is significantly different from the Jewish Apocalyptic and Gnostic redemptive cosmologies of the New Testament; now compare those New Testament cosmologies to the cosmology of most contemporary North American Christians.
Yet, both Jews and Christians want to insist on the homogeneity of their own traditions.
There are many other fascinating and enlightening relationships between language and religion, but in conclusion, I would like to make just one more comparison, which I believe to be the most interesting and illuminating of all.
I would suggest that the true language of the human being, that is, the original language of the human being was poetry.
And I believe poetry (mytho-poetics) to be the true and proper language of religion.
The function of mytho-poetic language is to attempt to express or give meaning, to that which is beyond both meaning and expression; that to which language can only point.
The very forms of poetic expression of meter and rhythm are indications of the inability of language to express the ineffable.
That is, when language reaches its boundaries, its limitations, its "speed of light" - the physical forms of language begin to change, much like matter itself.
Words begin to bend, they elongate or shrink, they morph or transform into meter, rhyme, cadence, and they resemble notes of a musical score, more than propositions of history and science.
They begin to be part of the song of nature, the music of the spheres; they become part of the very referent of what they are trying to refer to, or express.
The truth of mythos cannot be expressed through the language of logos.
One must sing to ones God’s, not talk them to death.
It is very sad how the modern world of science and technology had muted the ears of our children to the song of the earth, and the music of our Gods.
As the great Viennese philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said so pointedly: "That which we cannot express we must pass over in silence."
Yet, within that silence, that space beyond language and meaning, that space beyond religion and understanding, that space which T.S. Elliot called the "shadow," there dwells the intonation of the Spirit.
And for those want to hear, for those who need to hear, or those who are simply graced to hear; in the silence, there is a song, a song sung by the earth herself.
I know this because, as a child she would sing her song to me, She would sing her song through me. I lost myself in her song.
I became her song. My thoughts would come, if at all, in meter and rhythm, for hours on end; in the woods hearing the song, feeling the song, becoming the song.
I still hear this song expressed in the mytho-poetic stories of indigenous peoples.
These are stories, peopled by a multitude of animals.
In them animals speak a language and human beings understand them.
They not only communicate to humans via language, they often save human beings from their own follies, and some even invite humans to live with them in their dens and burrows, and adopt them as their own.
Humans transform into animals and animals into humans.
Animal species are called nations, and people take on animal names. In some stories of origin, the humans are actually descended from the animal nations, and so are indeed relations in both a biological and spiritual sense.
Humans have a treaty, an understanding with the animal nations, a mutual and reciprocal relationship of respect and honor.
This sharing of a language, and these intimate bonds between animals and humans, the ease with which humans and animals can transform and morph into one another are symbols of the elemental harmony between the human being and all forms of life.
In other words, these storytellers understood themselves as being part of that animal nature and that animal realm. And they understand this common nature was shared by all beings.
I would suggest, this elemental, indivisible, and inexplicable reality, this unity of all being - is, has been, and will continue to be, the true and proper referent, the meaning of what we intend to express when we say: God, Tunkashila, Wakan Tanka, Kitche Manitou.
The word, God, is not a noun.
God is not a name or a person.
God is a song.
Nature sings that song, and as our brother Jesus once said:
"Let those who have ears to hear, hear!"
Language and Religion :
Meaning is expressed in and through language, and language expresses itself through place.
Languages are formed and expressed within the symbols, the grammar, the syntax of place.
A place is a culture or a subculture within a larger cultural milieu.
Semantics is concerned with how language expresses meaning.
The study of meaning within a system of signs.
Linguistic Etymology is concerned with the history and cultural development of words.

Spiritual relationships are expressed in and through religion, and religion expresses itself through place.
Religions are formed and expressed within the symbols, the grammar, and the syntax of place.
A place is a culture or a subculture within a larger cultural milieu.
Philosophical Theology is concerned with how religion expresses meaning.
It is the study of meaning within a system of signs.
Comparative Religious Studies/History of Religions are interested in the history and cultural development of religious symbols.

Defining Meaning & Language:
Content carried by language and the vehicle of the expression of meaning.
Replicates between individuals.
A system of symbols and the rules either a direct perception or used to manipulate them.
Some sentient derivation thereof.
*Grammar – rules governing the use of language
*Perception - the process of acquiring, interpreting
*Syntax- rules that govern the structure of sentences - organizing sensory information.
*Sentience- the ability to feel or perceive subjectively.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Turtle Island Project: Respecting the environment and Native American culture (and all Earth-based traditions like Celts & Indigenous Peoples)

The Turtle Island Project

The non-profit Turtle Island Project (TIP) in northern Michigan promotes respect for the environment and Native Americans.

The project was founded in July 2007 and battles exploitation of the environment, racism, and religious imperialism.

The TIP tackles numerous environment and social issues including learning to protect the planet from Earth-based cultures.

Founders are Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard., the pastor of Eden on the Bay Lutheran Church in Munising, Michigan who has worked extensively with the Lakota tribe in South Dakota; and Rev. Dr. George Cairns, a United Church of Christ minister, an expert in Celtic spirituality and a research professor of Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary

Contact Info:
(All have Skype online video calling)

Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard
Munising, Michigan

Pastor of Eden on the Bay Lutheran Church in Munising, Michigan; does spiritual work on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota
wk: 906-387-2520
cell: 906-202-0590
Co-founder/President of the Board:
Rev. Dr. George Cairns
Chesterton, Indiana

Research Professor of Practical Theology and Spirituality at Chicago Theological Seminary; ordained minister in the United Church of Christ

Media Advisor:
Greg Peterson
Negaunee, Michigan


Turtle Island Project
Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard
PO Box 360
Munising, MI.
Summary of Turtle Island Project websites & TV (video) sites:



Turtle Island Project websites/Blogs:

TIP website:


TIP Sacred Places website:


Upload your own Sacred Place



Other TIP sites:




Turtle Island TV - Video sites:








Friends of the Turtle Island Project:

Religion and spirituality portal for religious media, writers, clergy and those interested in a modern ways to find information on faith:


Read the Spirit


(Part of David Crumm Media LLC, a multi-media publishing company)


Read The Spirit Director:

David Crumm



Read The Spirit Technical support:

John Kile



First/Oldest Native American women’s domestic violence shelter, teen suicide prevention:


White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc.

Tillie Black Bear, director

North Main St.

Mission, SD

Call: 605-856-2317

White Buffalo Calf Woman Society website:





Lakota Rosebud Sicangu Tribe website:




The Iona Community - Worldwide:




Project to change racist location names in Minnesota and across the U.S.:


Rum River Name Change Organization Inc.

Thomas Dahlheimer, director

P.O. Box 24

Wahkon, Minnesota




Call: 320-495-3874


MN bill to change 14 derogatory geographic place names offensive to American Indians