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Online Seminar Series: ‘Religion and Nature’ held by ICRS and Badan Restorasi Gambut (BRG)

  May 14th 2020

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The Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) proudly presents a series of online seminars related to ecological issues beginning this week. There will be a total of three online seminars, held on May 12, 15, and 19. This seminar series, a joint initiative, is made possible due to the cooperation between ICRS and Badan Restorasi Gambut (Peatlands Restoration Agency, BRG). ICRS and BRG recognize the destruction of Indonesian peatlands caused by human activity (e.g. burning and draining of wetlands). The organizations believe that the central role of religion in Indonesian society provides opportunities for religious groups to support the conservation work of BRG. BRG already involves hundreds of Islamic preachers (da’i) and Christian ministers through the programs Da’i Peduli Gambut and Gereja Peduli Gambut. In these programs, BRG meets their goal of educating the society on the importance of peatlands and the pivotal role each person can play in their preservation. Peatland restoration campaigns are also conducted through field schools. 

ICRS and BRG agree that religious communities can motivate people to change their behavior as it regards the destruction of the environment. As it relates to peatland, these areas are vitally important to combatting climate change. To expand the public’s education regarding the preservation of peatlands, BRG and ICRS developed three seminars highlighting the connection between religion and the environment.  The three seminars are titled: “Puasa: Laku Spiritual Menahan Diri dari Merusak Alam”; “Merawat Alam sebagai Ibadat”; “Mengasihi Sesama dan Generasi Berikutnya”.

Coinciding with the month of Ramadan, the seminars messages draw from religious themes: fasting, worshipping God, and building solidarity among humans and between humans and creation.  The first seminar, “Puasa: Laku Spiritual Menahan Diri dari Merusak Alam” the idea is to describe the importance of controlling human desires as it concerns the exploitation of nature. In addition to fasting, the idea of self-control, controlling one’s desire, lust, or greed, exists in every religion.  This idea takes different forms, such as Nyepi in Hinduism, the Sabbath in Jewish tradition, and even in certain ethnic groups in Indonesia, for instance, Sasi from Maluku. By restraining from greed, and therein limiting the exploitation of the environment, there will be a chance for nature to restore itself. The second seminar centers on the concept of Ibadat and the idea that to worship God or be in relation with God is not only a vertical relationship, but also holistically occurs in horizontal relationships between humans and the relation between humans and nature. Thus, in many religions there are ideas about humans as stewards of nature wherein humans are expected to be good managers and sustainers of nature. The third seminar will promote the idea that loving nature is one of the ways humans demonstrate love for themselves, love for their neighbor, and love for the next generation. After all, our use of natural resources, be it exploitation or preservation, has important implications for future generations.  

Each of the seminars will involve speakers from various religious backgrounds as the goal of preservation of the environment demands the involvement of all peoples and each faith has something to offer in this conversation.  The first seminar will be delivered by: Tuan Guru Hasanain Juaini (from Lombok), Juwita Jayakusumah Putri (Penghayat Sunda Wiwitan), Robert Borrong (STFT Jakarta), Parada Lewis KDR (Ketua Majelis Agama Hindu Kaharingan Kota Palangkaraya), and Ibu Mirna (Badan Restorasi Gambut). The discussion will be moderated by Director of ICRS Dr. Zainal Abidin Bagir. The second seminar will be delivered by: Nissa Wargadipura, from Pesantren Ath-Thariq Garut; Jo Priastana, from Sekolah Tinggi Agama Buddha Nalanda, Jakarta; and Romo Andang Binawan SJ, from Keuskupan Agung Jakarta. The second seminar will be moderated by Dr. Siti Syamsiyatun. The third seminar will be delivered by: Abdul Kadir Riyadi, from UIN Surabaya; Pdt Merry Kolimon, a Head of the Synod Gereja Masehi Injili di Timor (GMIT); Iskandar Woworuntu, from Bumi Langit (Yogyakarta); Ustadz Zamroni Hasan; and Suwignya (Badan Restorasi Gambut). This seminar will be moderated by Dr. Wening Udasmoro.