St. Olaf College | News

Religion professor wins award for his writing on pope’s ‘faithful ecology’

EricksonJake300x400St. Olaf College Instructor in Religion and Environmental Studies Jake Erickson was awarded the Wilbur Award for his piece Falling in Love with the Earth: Francis’ Faithful Ecology, in which he analyzes the papal encyclical Laudato Si’ that was issued last summer.

“This encyclical, as I read it, is simultaneously an act of love, an act of protest, and a hope for resilience,” Erickson writes in his piece. “Perhaps in bringing our crises of climate down to earth, to the very intimacies, desires, and relations of our bodies, Pope Francis’ encyclical offers a way forward. Perhaps when we feel earth, affectively, lovingly in the everyday — in all of its vibrancy and tragic beauty — we’ll be better able to do the work we so desperately need to do.”

The Religion Communicators Council gives the Wilbur Award to excellent media pieces that connect religious issues, values, and themes to current public affairs and reach a secular audience. Other recipients for 2015 include Jonathan Merritt writing for The Atlantic, religious author Diana Butler Bass, Andrea Bruce at National Public Radio, and Oprah.

Erickson’s essay, which was originally published by the independent online magazine Religion Dispatches, is one of 60 featured in the new book For Our Common Home: Process-Relational Responses to Laudato Si’.

At St. Olaf, Erickson teaches The Culture of Elephants, The Bible in the Age of Ferguson, Writing Life in the Anthropocene, The Biblical Animal, and the Theology of Creation.