Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Saving Our Planet: What's GOD got to do with it???

Poster designed for first Earth Day, 1970.
We're in a mess, and we might not get out of it.

Many religious people think God is part of the unfolding story of the climate crisis.

Some believers think it wouldn't happen unless it was being caused by God (for instance, as a punishment for people's wickedness).

Others don't believe in a God who exacts terrible punishments, but do believe God will save us. They may be inclined to believe that God is the answer to solving global warming and overcoming climate change.

If we pray fervently enough to God, will the climate crisis go away?

Devoted Hands

A few Sundays ago at First Congregational Church of Berkeley (FCCB), we had "Service as Worship" day. Sometimes people worship God in words, in music, in costume, via movement and graphic arts . . . . Sometimes (often? always?) our acts of service in the world are also ways that we worship God.

Wait: we're not supposed to just pray and go to church? We're supposed to do stuff?

I thought Pope Francis summed it up pretty well:

"You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. This is how prayer works."
(Pope Francis)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) stresses the idea "God's work, our hands."

So part of my understanding of the problem is that action in the world happens through people.

Does God "care" about the climate crisis?
God is with us

I believe God is with us . . . and that it's up to us to do what needs to be done.  (God will be with us in our success. God will be with us in our failure.)

Specifically,  I believe the meaning of God caring about the climate crisis is that humanity gets to see the future, together with God so that humanity can choose its own future.

That's not nothin' . . . .

Diverse inspirations

Bill McKibben puts it in stark
terms: we could actually end
up breaking the Earth.
It will take real motivation to bear down on this big problem.

Sometimes I think we can be motivated by a sense of justice.

Pastor Diane Weibel pointed out to the congregation at FCCB several weeks ago that those of us who have caused the problem of global warming to happen also happen to be part of the class of people who really won't suffer the worst consequences from it;  it is the people in the Global South and those with the least wealth and privilege, the ones who have done little or nothing to bring global warming about that will suffer most from it.

Can this be the basis for a global movement of conscience?

Perhaps. Sometimes, however, I think we to be jolted to our senses. Bill McKibben puts in in stark terms: we could actually end up breaking the Earth. Maybe THAT will shock people into action.

(What motivates you?)

How are we gonna DO this???

Watch Laura Burkhauser's April 17, 2016 sermon at FCCB "Promises After the Flood" below. She raises the question of whether, when things have gonna very, very wrong, there is hope of repairing the situation.  I think the way she takes us through the problem -- including stressing that the problem is very, very bad -- gives a sense of what it is genuinely going to take for us to pursue a new direction.

What do you think? Is a New Covenant possible?

Happy Earth Day 2016!

More related posts

"Although we know the end from the very beginning," says Walker, "the story is no less compelling to watch." A man, gloriously alone (except for his own reflection) on an ice-covered lake; the soothing pastel colors of the distant sky; and what seems surely to be a circle he is digging around himself with a pick-axe. A perfect parable for our headlong rush toward climate crisis?

(See How Do You Say "Suicide Narcissus" in Chinese?)

One of the really interesting things about looking at how Rachel Carson used her writing to wake the world up -- particularly with her prophetic Silent Spring -- is that we can then go back to some of the earliest parts of the Bible and see them as living and urgent. And reading Silent Spring as well as Biblical stories like the account of The Flood points to the urgency of changes that need to be made here and now in the way we all live our lives.

(See Looking at Rachel Carson (at St. Luke's "School for Prophets") )

I'm grateful to my friend, Jim Barton, for framing the problem in a way that is adequately broad, and yet contains a measure of hope.  It's about the future, and whether we have one -- or can construct one -- he said.  Young people today are asking: Do I have an economic future? Does the planet have a future? Will (nuclear) war extinguish everybody's future?

(See A FUTURE: Can we construct one? )