It is one of those gimmicky, celebrity-driven, feel-good, substance-lite events … But at least it’s something. At least it makes us stop and change our behavior, even for an hour, and think about our individual and collective impact on our earth, God’s earth.
So, are you turning off the lights for Earth Hour 2009? It’s tomorrow night, March 29, 8:30-9:30 pm (local time)!
The earth is not our mother. The earth is our sister, both it and we born from the same “womb,” both it and we sustained moment by moment through the vigilant care of our loving Father, both it and we living toward the day when all things will be made new.
In a couple of weeks, our congregation will be hosting a “Cool Congregations” workshop, intended to promote an informed and committed response by people of faith to the serious environmental threat posed by global warming. We sent out a mailing describing the event to churches of every denomination in the metropolitan area and to all the UCC churches in northeast Iowa.
This week I have been making follow-up calls to a selected list of churches that had received the mailing — I had the A’s and B’s and C’s!
I have been surprised — and disheartened — by the palpable disconnect between many of these faith communities and any sense of responsibility for the health of the planet. Maybe it’s because the issue of global warming has become so politicized, though it is most difficult for me to see how this is in any way a partisan issue. Or maybe it’s because churches believe that even talking about global warming means being co-opted by some broader “liberal” agenda.
That is what I find disheartening, and disturbing. Who better should care about this earth than those who believe God made it? Who better should be eager to do all we can to keep it beautiful and pristine and life-sustaining than those who believe God made it good and left us in charge of keeping it good? What is the value of a faith that serves only to prepare us for “another life” and largely neglects this one? Where is the integrity in a faith waits longingly for a “new world” while letting this one “go to hell?”
Life is God’s gift to us, a most precious gift indeed. And we honor God best by taking good care of that gift … in its entirety! Not just taking care of souls, but bodies too! Not just honoring the Word, but the Word made flesh! Not just valuing the Spirit, but all that the Spirit brings to life, all that the Spirit brought to life when it moved over the waters at the dawn of creation!
N. T. Wright is right! The separation of religion from “real life,” the separation of faith from politics, from the push and pull of the everyday decisions that impact the lives of persons and communities of persons, is artificial and contrary to the “way” to which Jesus calls his followers. Faith is not just about “then,” but about now, not just about “there,” but about here. Hope is not just about “waiting it out” until we go to “a better place,” but about believing God can and will make this world a better place, with us and through us. The following quote comes from an interview Wright did last year with Christianity Today. You can read the transcript of the entire interview here.
For generations the church has been polarized between those who see the main task being the saving of souls for heaven and the nurturing of those souls through the valley of this dark world, on the one hand, and on the other hand those who see the task of improving the lot of human beings and the world, rescuing the poor from their misery.
The longer that I’ve gone on as a New Testament scholar and wrestled with what the early Christians were actually talking about, the more it’s been borne in on me that that distinction is one that we modern Westerners bring to the text rather than finding in the text. Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that the gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world. And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you. You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work. That draws together what we traditionally called evangelism, bringing people to the point where they come to know God in Christ for themselves, with working for God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That has always been at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer, and how we’ve managed for years to say the Lord’s Prayer without realizing that Jesus really meant it is very curious. Our Western culture since the 18th century has made a virtue of separating out religion from real life, or faith from politics. When I lecture about this, people will pop up and say, “Surely Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.” And the answer is no, what Jesus said in John 18 is, “My kingdom is not from this world.” That’s ek tou kosmoutoutou. It’s quite clear in the text that Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t start with this world. It isn’t a worldly kingdom, but it is for this world. It’s from somewhere else, but it’s for this world.
Climate change stands alongside the use of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats posed to the future of the world, the Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking has said.
Professor Hawking said that we stand on the precipice of a second nuclear age and a period of exceptional climate change, both of which could destroy the planet as we know it …
“As we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age and a period of unprecedented climate change, scientists have a special responsibility, once again, to inform the public and to advise leaders about the perils that humanity faces,” Professor Hawking said. “As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth.
“As citizens of the world, we have a duty to share that knowledge. We have a duty, as well, to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change.”
And it is our duty as citizens of the world, as citizens of our respective nations, and as stewards of God’s good creation, to ensure that our governments act sooner rather than later to address the looming crisis of climate change, even as we do what we can as individuals to reduce our personal contributions to the problem. Even the smallest step in the right direction is better than taking no step at all.
Once again the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is under threat. Some people just don’t understand “No!” No, it is not worth it to us to add a few more gallons to our oil reserves if it means the sacrifice of this precious piece of wilderness.
a tank full of gas: $60 drilling a new oil well: $5 million preserving the home of the caribou, the black bear, the moose, the Dall mountain sheep, the Gwich’in Indian: priceless
In the words of the our own government (from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website):
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established to preserve unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values; to conserve caribou herds, polar bears, grizzly bears, muskox, dall sheep, wolves, snow geese, peregrine falcons, other migratory birds, dolly varden, and grayling; to fulfill international treaty obligations; to provide opportunities for continued subsistence uses; and to ensure necessary water quality and quantity.
I was glad to hear the news of the reaffirmation of conservation of natural lands and resources as the top priority of the National Park system. It’s a step in the right direction. May there be many more such steps to come!
I discovered a link to this website while reading an article about global warming. TerraPass is a program that provides a way to offset the global warming impact of your vehicle’s CO2 emissions by investing in clean energy projects that reduce industrial carbon emissions. They call it cleaning up after your car.
I bought my TerraPass. Visit the TerraPass website and clean up after your car!