Converse

The word converse derives from late Middle English with the sense of “live among” and “be familiar with.” The root is Old French converser, from Latin conversari , to “keep company with.”

In other words, to converse or to be in conversation is about closeness, familiarity, and togetherness.

Humans converse a lot, of course, but we are not the only species to do so. A new field of plant neurobiology shows that cellular tissue at the tips of roots and shoots process and communicate information through electrical signals. Trees also converse by means of scent and taste. When threatened by insects or animals, for example, acacia trees emit ethylene gas to warn neighboring trees of imminent danger. Toxic substances pumped into leaves ward off attackers and pheromones draw beneficial predators.

And there’s a bonus for our species. Japanese researchers have analyzed the physiological effects of trees on humans. Spend some time in a forest and it will reduce your stress hormone cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure!*

Since 1992 the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith has conversed about who we are and about our place among others on Earth. We converse about what occupies our hearts and minds and the things that engage our passions and actions. And in one way or another, even if not always explicit, these conversations are about faith and science and technology and their impact on Earth itself and its peoples and creatures.

Let us be as wise as trees and have our conversations grow and expand to fulfill our Vision: theological insight, social justice, gratuitous kindness, and self-giving humility within the wholeness of God’s creation.

[*Belden Lane, “A Cottonwood’s Love,” The Christian Century, July 31, 2019]

Photo by  Chelsea Bock  on  Unsplash
Trees used to talk to people all the time. Sane people used to hear them.
— Richard Powers, The Overstory

Ways of Conversing

SciTech†
To date the primary means of PASTCF’s conversing has been SciTech†, our quarterly journal/newsletter. But it is a print medium living in a digital age. Should SciTech† become digital only? Would that be economically sustainable? We want your input about our journal.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
We hope to explore other ways that PASTCF can be in conversation with our geographically widespread membership as well as other interested persons.

Online Discussion
Would a sense of conversing — closeness, familiarity, and togetherness — be enhanced by some form of online conversation? Perhaps a “the topic of the week” or some other subject for reflection.

Resources
Would downloadable resources such as sermons, articles, links to important websites, and book suggestions be useful to you? How about a calendar of important upcoming events and conferences?

Send your ideas and questions to admin@pastcf.org.