Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Church who wanted to belong...

The Anglicans are up to it again, conforming to the world and trying to belong. And remember, I am permitted to offend Anglicans, I still consider myself one, albeit half-caste Baptist. This time, Arch Bish of Melbourne "Doctor Phil" Freier, wrote an op-ed in that beacon of Global Warming alarmism, The Age, just prior to World Environment Day (which I must have missed) in June.

Now, I know I shouldn't cherry-pick things out of context, and should give credit to the Anglos where it's due. But shouldn't a Christian leader, given an opportunity to communicate via mass-media, use it for a message which a) people really need and b) people haven't already heard a gazillion times in the mass media?

Besides, it's my blog and I'll sling if I want to. Bish's words in italics, and my rantings in bold:

It is ironic that as we are preparing to mark World Environment Day on Thursday the world is in a panic about the rising cost of petrol, food and other essentials.
We were preparing to mark World Environment Day?

... And yet, as some thoughtful commentators have argued, sky-rocketing fuel costs may be exactly what we need to force us to find ways of living that are not so dependent on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Erm, I presume you mean "CO2", Phil. Carbon is that hard black stuff coal is made of, but okay, we'll presume it's a socially acceptable abbreviation. By the way, breathing emits "carbon". Can we find ways of living that are not so dependent on breathing?

Since we're mentioning western dependence upon oil, perhaps this might interest the Anglican Bishop. It might even make the church see something good about Israel after all !

We have become almost entirely reliant on the private car, and now we are learning to our cost just how unsustainable that is, and not just because of the price factor. As a planet, we would actually be in grave danger if petrol supplies were both infinite and cheap. Yes, because everyone would be able to afford a Lamborghini and they’d die from speed-related…oh you meant the planet would be in danger. You weren’t talking about people

Petrol is not the only culprit where global warming and environmental degradation is concerned. Coal-burning power stations, over-use of insecticides and other chemicals, thoughtless water use and short-term irrigation practices… No mention of Nuclear power? Some friend of the earth you are…

For years now, scientists have been warning us about the danger, but most of us either chose to ignore them or were confused by those who insisted they were wrong. I see. If you preach warming catastrophe, you're a “Scientist” …if you don't, you're just “those”. And they're confusing. You poor man. I hope you never meet “those” 31,000 (scientists) who signed that paper debunking man-made global warming.

Now the evidence is clear: we have no choice but to try to mend our ways if we want planet earth to survive as a habitable environment. No the evidence is not. But you’ll be really popular for saying it is. And being popular says more than any evidence ever will.

This is a key moral issue of our time. That’s right! Just ask that woman who aborted her baby because she couldn’t bear to bring another carbon footprint into the world. Just as we have had to say sorry to Indigenous people for the way we treated them in the past, you mean when we rescued them from violence and sexual abuse? and to the victims of child sexual abuse, whoa, you’re all over the place there we must also repent of our self-centred abuse of creation. Am I apologising for anything in particular or do you just want me to be guilty for the sake of it?

Increasingly, we are coming to realise that this abuse is damaging not just the earth, but also ourselves as spiritual beings…For religious bodies, the responsibility of caring for the environment … is now being taken much more seriously than in the past. Probably because we’ve just realised how badly we suck at our responsibilities toward humanity.

Unfortunately, some earlier generations of Christians applied the account of the creation of the earth in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, (thanks for clearing that up) to give human beings the authority to exploit and dominate the earth for their own benefit, regardless of the consequences. They saw the earth and everything in it as there for the sake of human beings only, who could treat it just as they pleased. Really ! Care to name these misguided people? Reformists? Church of the Industrial Revolution? The Amish?

This understanding - not entirely restricted to Christians -has had tragic consequences. Sure did. Unfortunately God forgot the Environmental Impact Study before He let loose all that sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. And then there's the billions of tonnes of carbon from volcanic eruptions. I hope God reads The Age, He really needs to change His Ways.

As our awareness of the danger our planet now faces has grown, theologians have reminded us that in the Genesis account, God gave humans the responsibility of caring for all living things, including the earth itself. Humans were to live in harmony with other creatures, and with the land. They were to respect and value the entire physical environment. He also told them to sacrifice perfect little Lambs to illustrate how shocking our sin is to Him. I wonder which message was more important?

If only we had! We would not now be in such real danger. Yes! We’d never had needed Jesus! It is all very well to talk about theological principles. We need to act on them…Great idea! From now on all Anglican farmers must leave their land fallow every seven years.

The Anglican Church and other faith communities are now struggling to get up to speed in terms of our actions. ..Increasingly parishes, like all responsible households, are conducting energy audits, changing their light bulbs and heating methods, recycling their rubbish, installing rain water tanks, and altering their housekeeping and gardening practices. Forget your lost friend who is going to spend an eternity separated from God. Preach grey water instead, brother! Salvation by works! Hallelujah!

But it is even more important that we all focus on the spiritual dimension of our relationship to the environment, to ensure that as a society we respond from the heart. Yes, not from the head. Remember what we said about evidence…

I invite people of all faiths, … to celebrate creation, say sorry for our misuse of the earth, take a step in caring for the earth, and to pray for the future of the earth. Who do I make my non-specific apology out to…God or Gaia?