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After the Bell - Home for Christmas: A New Approach to Environmental Ethics with Dr. Derek Nelson

Thursday, December 8, 2022
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (EST)

Wabash "rings-out" a new class to our alumni ranks each year. After the Bell offers opportunities to come back to the Wabash classroom and attend virtual liberal arts sessions with current faculty members. Join us for this live virtual event being offered for Wabash alumni, spouses, partners, parents, and friends.

Environmental ethics is often focused on public policies, what to do about/with the environmental impact of large corporations, and complicated analyses of complex systems of economic exchange and resource use. But there’s a different angle that we can and should take, as well, one that hits closer to home. Dr. Derek Nelson proposes that “home” is a very useful way to think about environmental ethics and eco-theology. To be at home in one’s body, one’s dwelling, and one’s community is a nearly universal experience that all people can reflect on and seek to deepen. The way we conceive, construct and live in our dwelling places is something that has huge consequences for the environment, and is also a key to greater happiness and contentment.

What’s more, “home” is an extremely important but under-examined part of the Bible and the long history of theological reflection. Everyone wants to be home for Christmas, which is fitting because “pitching a tent” in the world, or having a home here, is how the gospel of John describes Christmas. This After the Bell session will draw connections between the very different areas of ecological home design, theological reflection on the incarnation (Christmas!) and the fascinating history of technology.

Prior to attending the session, you are encouraged to watch the short film, Framing a House and Framing Home, which captures some of Dr. Nelson’s work in ecologic home design, sustainable living, and the theology of being “at home” in your body, your dwelling place, and your community.

Derek Nelson, Professor of Religion, Stephen S. Bowen Professor of the Liberal Arts

Derek Nelson was born among the white oaks and silver maples of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest in Goodhue County, Minnesota. Waters in his childhood flowed generally east and south, as they made their way to the Mississippi, in whose waters Derek fished and dreamed of even bigger things. He continued south and east to Wabash College, where he graduated with the legendary class of ’99. More interested in chemistry and physics when he began at Wabash, Derek ended up going to seminary at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, once famous as the “Elm City,” where many place names refer to the trees that are no longer there, having all died of Dutch Elm disease. Derek then moved west to the high sierra and chaparral of Northern California for a PhD from UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. He hiked the Sequoias, living trees of which were there since Abraham and Moses, and the much younger Redwoods, living specimens of which are merely as old as Gautama the Buddha and Confucius, all of whom Derek counts as friends.  He is the author or editor of twelve books and dozens of articles. He is a pastor and avid woodworker, which you’ll soon learn more about. He and his wife the Rev. Kelly Nelson are the proud parents of Madeleine, age eight years, and Maya, age ten months.