Dominionism with Rev. Erin Walter

Rev. Erin Walter, Unitarian Universalist minister, executive director at the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry, and punk rocker, discusses the Christian concept of "Dominionism" from a Unitarian perspective.

From AllCreation's Spring 2022 edition, "Dominionism: Exploring religious relationships with other life." Guest editor, Rev. Dr. Dan De Leon, interviews Rev. Erin Walter on the Unitarian Universalist understanding of the Genesis 1:26 concepts of "dominion" and "dominionism." 

"And God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.'" (Genesis 1:26)


About Erin
Rev. Erin J. Walter (she/her/hers) is Minister and Executive Director for the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry (TXUUJM), coach for Beloved Conversations, and a community minister at Wildflower Church in Austin, TX. Erin is a winner of the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation Sermon Award, a former journalist, and singer/songwriter/bassist for the band Parker Woodland. She is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist (UU), an adviser to the SIMS Foundation, currently serving on the board of Texas Impact


Program
  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:39 About Erin’s band, Parker Woodland
  • 02:30 About Erin’s UU ministry and the Texas UU Justice Ministry
  • 03:15 Why is environmental stewardship a priority for you and the TX UU
  • 05:10 Do UUs believe they have “dominion” over the Web of LIfe?
  • 06:20 Dominionism comes from Genesis I. Many people believe that’s an open and shut case for taking without replenishing and having domination. But that changes with the “web of life” connotation, it changes the relationship with the word. What is the identity of humankind in the web of life for a UU? 
  • 11:20 The here and now… Seeing the Earth as divine increases our sense of urgency to take care of the here and now… Tell us more about a UU take on the present in contrast with a Christian.
  • 14:00 “When Jesus instructs us how to pray, he gives us two prayers: the Lord’s prayer and in Revelation, which ends with saying that "God comes to live with them" — us! God comes to be with us. Why wouldn’t we want to take really good care of the Creation in order to make way for the Creator?”
  • 19:00 The Christian Climate lament: "Do I work for companies that are going to perpetuate doing with Creation whatever they want? Or, do I help the Earth and go broke? ...That’s the world we’re living in?!" This is difficult to counsel on. 
  • 23:00 What are you working on politically right now? 
  • 26:30 Is the Creation Coalition limited to UUs only? 
  • 27:30 Metanoia. Some of what I’m learning from editing this issue is there’s a common thread, “Nothing’s going to change unless we change our perspective. How we look at the environment has to change. Nothing can be more encouraging than the recognition that I’m not alone. If we can unite across our differences, that will foster more of that change of perspective.
  • 30:53 Where do you get your hope from? 


References


Quotes
We’re a non-creedal faith, so the folks in the pew sitting next to you might not believe the same thing about the Divine.

Our faith connections are around principles and values, not so much around creed or dogma. So for us, one of those principles is the interconnectedness of the web of life that we consider us all to be a part of.

Many of us fall into that category where our spirits are concerned about how we care for each other and how we steward our relationships, our lives, and our actions in the here and now.

I was raised UU, and “dominionism” is really not a word I heard at church.

We meet in a place of community, sustenance, and sustainability for this home.

If all of this is God’s Kingdom, can we treat it as holy? And, what do we have to lose?

Yes, I often just feel incredible awe and gratitude to just be in this world, it’s, it’s amazing.

I hadn’t thought about humankind as being at the top of any living creature hierarchy.

There’s a lot of economic and justice layers to how we make our work choices to reflect our values.

We have this balance to strike, of facing the hard work that we have to do and making sure we have support to do the work.

If not us, who?

Spiritual tools are really important. One of the things I’m constantly talking about is that we do not fall into despair. We need our joy practices, our spiritual practices, our sustenance practices, to keep us uplifted enough to be doing the work.

If there’s one thing that I would hope people across all kinds of political and religious differences could unite around, it would be stewardship of the Earth.

I always want to encourage people to find one thing that they can do WITH the interconnected web of our lives; we're not going to each be doing it alone.

I mean, the coalition work feels like "The Way" to me, you know. Again, it's this inherent worth and dignity of every person, like, yes, I want to be affirmed for who I am as an individual, but the liberation for the Earth and for Each other is going to be achieved Together.

We need to be willing to meticulously make small steps, build relationships one conversation at a time, one meeting at a time, one experience at a time, while also holding this radical, amazing vision of the beloved community we can be building together. We need to see the big, glorious picture while also being willing to do what you and I are doing right now, just have one on one conversations.

What’s your theme song?



###############


Thanks for listening.
This podcast is part of our Spring 2022 series, Dominionism.
Visit the AllCreation podcast site or AllCreation.org for more.
Produced and edited by Chris Searles.
See the whole "Dominionism" collection here.

@BioIntegrity Partnerships