Conneaut, Ohio, to Newfield, N.Y.

I attended a morning session of the Religious Education Association annual conference. I wanted to hear two presentations on abuse and trauma as it relates to religious education. A significant part of my career working in congregations has been devoted to addressing the after effects of religious abuse and trauma (RAT). I’ve mostly dealt with the effects of misconduct by clergy and staff, and I found it helpful to learn about the wider scope of RAT. The presentations also introduced me to additional books and academic studies that I want to read.

But attending this REA session meant we got a late start. The drive started out dreary, but as soon as we got off Interstate 90 onto Interstate 86, the driving became much more pleasant — few cars on the road, fewer big rigs, the road winding through rolling green hills. We passed into Seneca Nation, and many of the road signs were in two languages.

Road sign in Seneca Nation in two languages

We soon arrived at Paul and Gina’s house in Newfield. They live on the edge of a 12,000 acre state park. As soon as we arrived, Paul, Carol, and I, along with Allagash the dog, went for a walk.

The woods were lovely…

Flowering plant in the woods

When we got back, we set up the tent on their lawn. Then we sat on their deck and ate dinner, and sang until dark.

Roseland, Ind., to Conneaut, Ohio

I got up early to attend an online session of the Religious Education Association (REA) annual conference. The presentationby Heesung Hwang of Chicago Theological Seminary, on how religious education could address burnout, was thought-provoking, to say the least. I’ll try to summarize her presentation in a later post.

Then it was time to hit the road for another dreary drive. The roadway of Interstate 80/90 through Indiana and Ohio is dominated by tractor-trailer rigs; at times, I estimated that half the vehicles on the road were big rigs. We drove through an industrial landscape. The industrial landscape continued on either side of the highway. Weary Midwest industrial landscapes alternated with industrial agriculture of soybeans and corn. An industrial corn field is green, and at first it looks pretty, but up close it is as bleak as a mall parking lot.

A bleak industrial corn field, somewhere in Ohio or Indiana

We checked into our motel in Conneaut, on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, at 3:30, just in time for me to attend another online session of the REA annual conference. This session, titled Sacred Pedagogic Texts in Dialogue, looked at non-Western religious educational philosophies by means of reading non-Western sacred texts (Analects, Bhagavad Gita, Guru Granth Sahib, Dao de Jing, and a Buddhist text.

It was an interesting presentation, but at the end of it I was ready to get outside. I started walking down the road next to our motel, saw a dirt road heading off to the left — no “No Trespassing” signs — and walked into the woods.

Woodlands in Conneaut, Ohio

None of the trees looked older than 50-75 years old, so presumably this land was either farmed or logged off in the mid-twentieth century. Under the older trees there was a fair amount of coppice growth, and on the ground growing in the shade were non-woody plants ranging from ferns to skunk cabbage to poison ivy to plants I wasn’t able to identify.

Stream behind the Conneaut Middle School

I wanted to stay in the woods longer, but I was scheduled to attend a session titled “Educating of Ecological Awareness” at the REA online conference. Carl Procario-Foley presented based on his paper “Good Ancestors Practicing a Holistic Vision for Ecological Conversion, and Vaughan Nelson presented on his paper “How Food Teaches and Why It Matters for Religious Education.”Again, two thought-provoking sessions — and again, I’ll try to summarize these presentations in another post.

It’s late now. There’s an REA conference session at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning. I better get to sleep.