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The River is a Magic Thing
Celebrating the art, history, ecology, spirituality, and future health of the Hudson River and its communities


The program begins with a retrospective look at the group of artists who became the first genuinely American art movement, the Hudson River School. These artists take us back to an earlier period in American history -- before the Civil War and the Scopes trail -- when science and theology were seen as allies in the study and appreciation of the natural world, and when the Hudson River and its surroundings, were seen not only as a glorious example of the beauty of the American landscape, but as evidence of the glory of God.

In the last century, by contrast, there was an ever widening gap between the natural and the supernatural; for many, science and religion came to be been seen as entering a state of war with each other, nature was viewed, not so much as a source of inspiration, but a resource to be exploited. A century of rapid industrial development resulted in a river no longer safe for swimming and fishing, its tributaries becoming open sewers.

The promise of the twenty first century is not a return to the romanticism of the 19th century, but a new ecological consciousness through which human communities learn to take responsibility for the health of the natural world, and, in turn, nature once again becomes a source of inspiration and health. Already, the river is being renewed, and the villages, towns and cities of the region are being revitalized. Both religion and the arts have a crucial role in this process.

The rebirth of the Hudson River and its region can and will continue, however, only as the wider public remains engaged. Artists, environmentalists, religious leaders and social activists must continue to lead and inspire, but only as an enlightened citizenry is fully committed will the mission be accomplished. For this, all of us will need to remember that the task of maintaining and repairing the world is the soul work that can make us whole.

Program Schedule:

9:30 am Rolls and Coffee

10:00 am  Charles Henderson: Welcome and Introduction of the Program

Interlude: The Hudson: Sound and Light

10:30 am  J. Taylor Basker:  The River as a Source of Spirit

11:00 Patti Ackerman: Garrison Institute’s Hudson River Project

11:30 Dr. Mike Magee:  Healthy Waters

Respondents and Discussion
Interlude: Hudson River Arts Award

12:30  Lunch

1:15    Interlude:   A Tour of the MOBIA Gallery and its current exhibition: This Anguished World of Shadows: Georges Rouault's Miserere et Guerre  Ena Heller

2:00   Fran Dunwell:  A Vision For the Future
Respondents and Discussion
Interlude:  Hudson River Arts Award

3:00   Donna Schaper:  Enchantment as Environmental Strategy
Interlude: Hudson River Sound and Light
Respondents and Discussion

4:00   Wine and Cheese Reception with program participants and artists

The program will also include presentations by artists who are recipients of the Hudson River Arts Award and whose work reflects our theme.

May 6, 2006

MOBIA (The Museum of Biblical Art)
1865 Broadway at 61st Street
New York, NY

For more information about program participants.

To use our secure website for conference registration.

For further conference information, please contact: 

Charles Henderson
475 Riverside Drive  Suite 1945
New York,  NY   10115

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.