Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
While the practice of animal sacrifice seems, to us, a cruel and brutal thing to do; it is important to remember the context in which God made these commands. The fall has set creation apart from God, and only blood can cover our sins. Until the sacrifice of the Messiah, animal sacrifices are necessary. We might find that hard to accept, but perhaps we forget that we have a great and amazing God - a God worthy of sacrifice. But God did not design this as bloodthirsty slaughter; it is an intricate, ceremonial ritual. Respect for the animals being sacrificed is demanded. God says that anyone who slaughters an ox, lamb or goat and does not bring it to be presented to the Lord as a sacrifice"he shall be held guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood, and he shall be cut off from the people". As I said, the animal must be respected as a sacrifice to God, or there are harsh penalties. Also, I am not sure I am interpreting this right, but I wonder if this passage means that all animals killed for meat, must also be made a sacrifice to the Lord? This would mean that all killing is in need of sanctification, and would fit in with the fact humans were to be vegetarian before the fall.
The second half of this chapter is also interesting. God proclaims that the blood of a creature is its life, and therefore the Israelites are never to eat blood or "I will set my face against that person". All blood is to be poured out on the ground and covered with dust. In so doing, the Israelites were to respect the life within the blood.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Obviously, greed is not good in God's eyes. So when did it become good in our eyes? When did it become something silently, if not vocally, supported by most of our society?
Perhaps, although it might be more obvious today, this is not really a new phenomenon. After all, before we just wanted to be rich, we wanted to be rich with a title. For most people, poverty is something we fear and strive to avoid. I don't think anyone really sets out to be greedy. We start out just wanting to feel 'secure'. It's insidious. Our society tells us that it is intelligent to save, to have a nest egg for 'a rainy day', and secular society pursues wealth as a means of feeling secure and being able to buy the things we 'need'. Then, as we accumulate more wealth, we begin to rationalise about why we need all of the money we have. It begins to take more and more money to make us feel secure. Yet God challenges us to rely, not on money, but on Him. I was challenged recently by reading a book discussing the conflict between the occurance of rich christians and the starving in the same world. This book boldly declared that wealthy Christians should be willing to sacrifice their own standard of living in order to help the poor. Indeed, it says to not do so is sin. This is a challenging accusation. In most circles at the moment, this is a barrier people are unwilling to cross. We are being sold lines about saving the planet, even reducing our consumption, but few people are willing to actually point out that we need to 'live more simply just so others can simply live'. Those that do point this out tend to be accused of advocating a return to hunting and gathering or some other nonsense. It is possible to reduce our impact on the planet without going back to the dark ages. Of course, the powers that be don't want us to think that, because they need us being greedy. They need us to buy hundreds of products we don't need every year to keep the industries alive, and to keep the economy growing (see my last rant). We don't have to turn progress back, we do have to make radical changes. How radical, I don't know. But why not start by making our lives closer to the Christian ideal? After all, it's an unregrettable option. The worst thing that can happen is we become better Christians. With a bit of luck, we help save the world. Keep posted on my Christian Living Series for some of my ideas on how to do this. For a start, let's fight the sin of greed- because whatever movies or our culture want to tell us, greed is NOT good.
As an environmentalist though, I have qualms about adding to the tonnes of E-waste thrown away each year. I am left with little choice though, because things are simply not made to last anymore.
There is a good reason for that. After World War II, the American economy was booming; but they faced a dilemma. They had all these factories employing people and making things, but they no longer needed the products. If they simply went back to business as usual before the war, the economy would plummit. So they did some thinking and realised something. If you sell someone an appliance for $1,000 and it lasts for twenty years, then your total income from that customer is $1,000 per 20 years. But if you sell them the same product at the same price and it only lasts for two years, then you can sell 10 of that product to the same customer in the 20 years and make $10,000. This example is, of course, overly simplified. Once consumers realised the reduced value of the product they would want to pay less, and externalities such as the environmental costs of being so wasteful , the costs to consumers of having to waste more time shopping, and the emotional costs of having your appliances break when you need them. However, it is perfectly standard for these factors to be ignored by economic models, so it seemed like a brilliant idea. Consumerism was born.
Next, they began making products so cheap that it made no financial sense to repair the old, and people began simply buying new things everytime something broke - and throwing out the old. This ability to buy everything you need and the absence of a need to repair anything then contributed to the loss of skills among the population. People stopped learning how to sew and cook, or fix the car. They could simply pay someone else to do it. Or, in the case of sewing, they would probably just buy new clothes. By this point, everyone was really enjoying this incredible miracle called economic growth. But it was still limited by the fact that people only need so many things. So they found a way past that barrier.
They began using marketing to create desires in people for things they didn't really need. They began to blur the line between needs and wants, so that some kids today find it almost impossible to tell the difference. They created ideas like fashion, which make it necessary to constantly buy new things. Don't get me wrong, I am a girl, and I enjoy fashion, but think about what it makes us do... I remember as a teenager, I would feel compelled at the start of each year to buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes, because I didn't want to be seen wearing last year's clothes (luckily, until year 10 I was at a school with a uniform, so this was only really an issue for my last two years of high school). Also, I remember the fear I had of wearing the same clothes twice in one week, let alone two days in a row. It wasn't about whether the clothes were clean or not it 'just isn't done!'
How did the marketers manage to create such fear in me? This is actually interesting to look at from a Christian perspective... Think about the main tools that marketers use to sell us things; they use envy and coveteousness, they tell you that you aren't good enough without their products, and they use sex. They use all of these, also, to create peer pressure. These are not very Christian motivations are they? Covetting the goods of another is against the tenth commandment. Our value is to come from the fact God loves us, not our possessions or looks. We are supposed to be of pure minds, free from lust; and we are to be in the world but not of the world - peer pressure should have no effect on us. And yet, even as Christians, how often do we fall for these things? I wanted fashionable clothing as a teenager because I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be good enough to be loved, and I saw my clothing as reflecting on my value. I think there is also an undercurrent hidden in the whole fashion thing. They say it is about expressing who you are, etc, etc, but it's not really. It is about emulating others. And I think it is about having money, or at least pretending you do. I mean, keeping up with the latest fashions is not cheap. The more money you have, the more closely you will be able to emulate the 'standards'. Poor families simply cannot buy dozens of new, expensive items of clothing every season. But they do try and keep up - where I grew up, it was the poor people who wore the T-shirts with the largest brands on them. They might not have been able to afford as many clothes, but those they did have were from expensive and famous brands, displayed as obviously as possible. In our society, it is cool to be rich, and cool to show that wealth with the latest fashions. I wonder what Jesus would have said about that....
So now we have this consumeristic society, set up in order to create limitless growth for economy. If we stop spending enough, the entire thing grinds to a halt and there is panic. But when are we going to face the impacts of what we are doing on the planet? When are we going to realise that limitless growth is impossible on a planet with finite resources? Growth for growth's sake is the philosophy of a virus. And, like a virus, we are slowly killing our host. If we are going to survive, consumerism may have to go. But do we have the strength to fight something designed to give us our every desire? Can our faith give us the strength to make the necessary sacrifices because it's the right thing to do?
I suppose the future will tell.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
What 'pillar' does God send you when you need a lift?
Where would we be without our fellow creatures?
I will include more information about this exciting story in the next Salt and Light Newsletter. If you aren't already on the list, email me at fiveleafecoawards at gmail.com to be included.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Something I learned very quickly is that wild animals are never really grateful for your help. My friend would rescue and 'pinks' (baby mammals who don't have their fur yet) from mothers hit by cars that were so young they seemed certain to die, yet when eventually released they would run (or often hop) away without a backward glance. She would rescue swans only to have them bash her over the head with their wings, have goannas try to scratch her, birds peck her and wombats try to destroy her house. Yet she never complained. She would get up every two hours, all night, to feed the babies; she would recieve calls at all hours of day and night to rescue animals, and went without complaint; and she worked so that she could invest most of her spare income in kangaroo milk formula and heat pads. She regularly visited the recycling section of the tip to collect the cages that would fill every part of her backyard in the spring; she spent countless hours raising baby mice just in case a snake came in, and she spent her 'spare time' (ha ha) sewing little pouches for the various marsupials she usually had in care, and invented new ways of feeding the little critters and keeping them alive.She suffered the pain of putting down hundreds of animals, yet believed the rare happy stories were worth the pain. She adopted a border collie from the pound who had been viciously abused. In the early days after her adoption, if a dog lead was seen or heard, Tori would cower in a corner, trembling, and often wet herself in pure terror. With a few months of love and compassion, she became one of the most friendly, happy, beautiful dogs I have ever seen. There was something so pure and innocent about that dog; she was captivating. Tori was one of the few stories of an animal expressing gratitude; yet my friend poured everything she had into all those ungrateful little animals. If they were in need, she would help them - that was just what she felt called to do.
This woman's incredible and unconditional love for these creatures is, I think, a parable for how God loves us. It used to be so frustrating trying to catch injured animals. They would run around, injuring themselves more, and often hurting us, because they couldn't understand that we weren't going to hurt them. And why should they trust us? After all, in 95% of cases, it was a human who had caused their injury, sometimes intentionally. Yet all we wanted to do was catch them and heal them. I wonder how often God feel this way. How often is He trying to help us, trying to lead us towards His good plans for us when we are digging our claws into the carpet and hanging on as though our lives depend on it? How often does he love us and give us everything, only to have us give nothing back - or worse, abuse and hate him? How often are we dragged to heaven kicking and screaming?
My friend is a Christian, so maybe she believes she will be rewarded by God for her love. (I have to wonder, also, how much support her church gives her. I doubt it is a fraction of what she deserves.) Maybe surviving cancer for 12 years after the doctors told her she was going to die made her feel she had to give something back. Or maybe she just sees the face of Jesus, battered and bruised, in every animal she rescues...
Regardless of why, what she did was wonderful. And the plans God has for us are wonderful, even if we don't know it yet, and even when we are ungrateful. The example of my wildlife carer friend reminds me of how God must feel, and how much he loves us. Surely we can trust in that?
Description: Come together in meditation, prayer and reflection for our Earth on the first day of the Copenhagen climate talks. People from all faiths, backgrounds and walks of life are welcome and valued.
Organisation: The Earth Vigil is an initiative of a non-affiliated group of individuals. Date/time: Monday 7th December, 6pm - 7:30pm.Location: Martin Place, SydneyCost: Free. Register your group online, or just come along.
For more information, see the Earth Vigil website.
Find an article on this topic at http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/eating-animals-or-what-not-to-eat-on-thanksgiving.php?dcitc=daily_nl
Churches are invited to walk together as part of the Micah Challenge global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice as part of its call for action on climate change.
Meet at the sculpture of the library sunk into the footpath, 11.45am
State Library, Swanston St Melbourne. The march will then go around to Princess Bridge to make a human sign.
Look for the orange and white Micah Challenge banner.
More information and updates on walk against warming can be found at: http://waw.org.au/
To let us know your church is coming contact: Cath James (03) 9251 5279 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Around the world, on this day churches will be encouraged to take action as part of the global day of action on climate change in the lead up to the climate change talks in Copenhagen. Micah Challenge which is a global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice has put together some resources for churches to take part in on this day. There are a range of activities you can choose from such as reading out the Micah Challenge prayer, participate in the world council of churches bell ringing, planting a tree, asking people to write letters or encouraging a group from your church to attend walk against warming the following weekend (see below).
For more details and resources go to: http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/
The two main issues that countries need to agree on are:
What targets should be set by which countries?
How much money are countries willing to put up to address climate change â€“ both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and also in terms of giving money to poor countries to help them cope with the effects (adaptation).
Churches through the Micah Challenge global campaign on poverty and injustice have been calling for the following action on climate change. You might like to make some of these points in your letter:
- Climate change is one of the most serious threats to sustainable human development and poverty reduction. The Stern Report (2006) stated that: "The poorest developing countries will be hit earliest and hardest by climate change, even though they have contributed little to causing the problem. Their low incomes make it difficult to finance adaptation. The international community has an obligation to support them in adapting to climate change. Without such support there is a serious risk that development progress will be undermined."
Micah Challenge calls on the Australian Government to:
â€¢ Take a leading role in international efforts to reach an agreement to keep the global temperature increase below two degrees. This should include a recognition that while all countries must play a part in mitigation efforts, developed countries have a responsibility to shoulder a significantly larger portion of the burden due to our much greater per capita contribution to climate change (both historically and currently) and our greater capacity to finance mitigation. Australia must be prepared to reduce its greenhouse emissions by up to 40% below what they were in 1990 by 2020 and by 80-90% by 2050.
â€¢ Commit to its fair share of external funding required by developing countries to adapt to climate change. At present the amount required is uncertain but it could be as high as $100-150 billion pa, of which Australiaâ€™s fair share would be $2-3 billion pa. This funding should be over and above the international aid commitment of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI).
Politicians receive lots of emails and letters. But when a local voter takes the time to personally call or visit face-to-face, they are much more likely to listen.
For all you need to know about how to find and how to visit your local MP got to: http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/assets/pdf/Action-Guide-%28VISIT-A-POLITICIAN%29.pdf
Monday, November 16, 2009
Make sure you sign up for Planet Prayer and join this important effort for a better result in Copenhagen. More info below:
We would like to invite you to join us as we pray that our world’s leaders will make good choices which are sufficiently bold enough to address issues of climate change. By signing up on the Planet Prayer website, between December 4-18 you will receive a daily email which will include a bible reading, a prayer and prayer points for that day. You can unsubscribe at any time. Full copies of the resources are also available in advance, by request.To sign up or for more information head to the Planet Prayer website at http://www.planetprayer.wordpress.com
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Christians without a church survey
Still Spending Yourself Happy?
A popular component of many behaviour change efforts involves asking a person to make a commitment, or “pledge”, to undertake the desired behaviour. This typically involves getting them to sign their name to a promise to save water/energy/emissions. The common perception is that this will make them more accountable, and thus more likely to follow through on the requested behaviours. This months article asks the question as to whether the commitment approach actually works, and if so, how and why? There is a certain amount of evidence across a variety of settings to suggest that gaining a commitment does indeed have an effect on behaviour. For example, strong support has been found for the effectiveness of “promise cards” to encourage people to wear seatbelts, discussed in a 1991 review by Geller and Lehman. In a series of studies, drivers were asked to sign a written statement of commitment to use seatbelts for a period of time (1-2 months). Subsequently, the researchers found that “In every case, a significant number of promise-card signers increased their use of safety belts”. More importantly, the effects of this intervention were found to be more effective in influencing lasting change than similar approaches which used incentives to entice people to wear seat belts. In the environmental field, the results are similarly compelling. A couple of studies have shown the effect of commitment on recycling behaviour. Pardini and Katzev conducted a simple study where groups of households were either a) given an information leaflet about recycling, b) asked to make a verbal pledge to recycle, or c) asked to make a written pledge. Both groups which made the pledge showed higher recycling behaviours, with the written pledge resulting in the strongest, most enduring behaviour change. As with all behaviour change efforts, it is important to consider if the intervention is likely to make a difference long-term, rather than just for the duration of the intervention. A 1990 study in a retirement home found that residents asked to sign a 4-week group commitment increased their recycling by 47%. When the researchers checked in after another 4 weeks, this increase had been maintained. The same study also looked at recycling behaviour of a group of students and found that both individual and group pledges worked to change behaviour, but only those students who signed individual pledges maintained the change over a follow-up period. This study echoed the seatbelt finding mentioned above, that signing a commitment is a more powerful facilitator of long-term change than providing incentives. So it appears that gaining a commitment from people is a worthwhile, and fairly cost-effective, step in increasing the likelihood that behaviour change efforts will be effective. It is worth considering why commitments work. The theory of “Personal Norm Activation” suggests that, once we have committed to a course of action, we have cemented it as a personal norm, or something that we see as a moral standard in ourselves. Any action which is at odds with that commitment therefore triggers a personal norm, providing a motivation to act. Similarly, the theory of Cognitive Dissonance, which has been discussed at length in previous issues of Wake-Up Call, goes some way to explaining the effectiveness of commitments. When we perceive a misalignment between our actions and our beliefs or values, then we experience discomfort and/or confusion. Thus, we work hard to maintain “cognitive consistency”. Making a commitment serves to create a belief that we are on board with the behaviour being proposed, so we do our best to ensure that our actions match this belief we have about ourselves. This process does, however, rely on us being self-aware - of our commitments, our behaviour, and any misalignment between them. If we are not conscious of our behaviour in relation to our beliefs, then dissonance is unlikely to occur, thus removing the motivating factor. This is one reason why highly habitual behaviour (which tends to occur at an unconscious, “auto-pilot” level) is more resistant to the effects of commitments. This phenomenon is discussed at length by Matthies and colleagues, who states that “when car use habits are strong, the whole process of norm activation and evaluation is blocked, and situational cues will lead directly to the habitualised choice of travel mode, without moral or other motives being considered”. As a result, it is suggested that some form of habit disruption is combined with the commitment, as demonstrated by the Matthies team. (Habits are also discussed in a previous Wake-Up Call).
Reviewing the evidence for the inclusion of commitments or pledges as part of a behaviour change interventions, a few recommendations can be made·
- Public commitments appear to work better than private ones
- Try to get written, specific commitments, rather than vague verbal ones
- A combination of individual and group pledges is ideal if possible, so that people can hold each other accountable, while also taking personal responsibility
- Ensure that people are aware, conscious and reminded of their commitment and their behaviour
Finally, as always, this approach is best used in combination with other tactics, including a thorough consideration (and removal where possible) of real and perceived barriers to the desired behaviour.This article was provided by the 'Wake-Up Call November 09 : Behaviour Change for Sustainability' newsletter from Awake. Awake provides psychology-based services to support the development of sustainable behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations. Visit www.awake.com.au for more info
Date: 12 December, 2009 Time: 11.30 am Where: Federation Mall (New Parliament House Lawns)
For more information, see ConsACT's website: www.consact.org.au/waw and the Walk against Warming website: www.walkagainstwarming.org
NPAACT General Meeting Thursday 19 November 2009 - The Murrumbidgee Corridor-the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When: Monday 16th November 2009, 4.45 pm for a 5pm start
Where: Parliament House Theatre
What: the welcome will be accompanied by a briefing on the national security implications of climate change, led by Senator Penny Wong (ALP), Senator Christine Milne (Greens), Professor Ove Hugh-Guldhberg (UQ) and Professor Paul Tregoning (ANU).
For more information see http://www.runforasafeclimate.org/
Thursday, November 12, 2009
According to scientific estimates, by 2050 as many as 200 million people may become permanently displaced by the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, heavier floods, and more intense droughts. South East Asia, small Caribbean and Pacific islands and large coastal cities will be amongst the more affected.
Meeting 2-6 November in Chiang Mai, Thailand, some 75 ecumenical representatives committed themselves to "support Oceania churches' initiatives and advocacy efforts on resettlement plans, adaptation and reparations to small island states", which have been "rendered victims by ecological and climate change".
The Chiang Mai Declaration issued by the ecumenical gathering emphasizes the need to develop "the framework for a new Convention or Protocol on Resettlement to cater for forced ecological migrants", and concrete plans "to ensure respect for and protection of the rights of forced climate migrants".
Participants at the Consultation on Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Asia and the Pacific were welcomed by Chiang Mai governor Mr. Amornpan Nimanan. The event was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Christian Conference of Asia and the Pacific Conference of Churches.
The consultation is part of the WCC AGAPE (Alternative to Economic Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth) process. It was preceded by hearings of youth, women and indigenous peoples.
Asia, whose vulnerability to extreme weather events is aggravated by poverty, showcases the links between poverty, wealth and ecology, according to a report presented at the consultation by the IBON Foundation, a think-tank based in the Philippines.
The report describes a context of grave ecological and economic crisis. More than half of the Third World's poor live in Asia. Even though it is generally viewed as a dynamic and promising place to invest, Asia is struggling with extreme poverty, thus reducing the capacity of Asians to cope with climate changes.
Impoverishment, greed and violence: outcomes of a spiritual crisis
"Our region's wealth is being siphoned off in the form of corporate profits squeezed from cheap, predominantly female, labour; external debt payments to international financial institutions made at the expense of massive cuts in social expenditures; the privatization and commodification of land; and exports of people, lumber and other 'raw materials' from poor to wealthier nations", the Chiang Mai Declaration says.
"We listened with heavy hearts to stories of: Burmese migrant workers fleeing political and economic oppression only to encounter other forms of oppression in Thailand; tens of thousands of farmer suicides in India; Asian students falling into debt because of spiralling tuition fees; women in the Mekong region trafficked into prostitution", participants stated in the declaration.
"Poverty is the result of exploitation and monopoly, and exploitation is coupled with violence", said Jonathan Sta. Rosa, a young participant from the Philippines, describing how economic globalization impacts poor people in his country. Jonathan's brother Isaias, a United Methodist pastor and a member of a peasant's movement, was killed in 2006 in one of thousands of extrajudicial killings taking place in Philippines.
"In Asia and the Pacific, neoliberal globalization has taken a stronger hold in urban centres especially with the young people. The pressure to consume, to own and to conform is enormous", said Liza Lamis, a communications consultant with the CCA.
"The interlinked economic and ecological crises are manifestations of a larger ethical, moral and spiritual crisis", said participants at the Chiang Mai gathering. Therefore what is needed is "nothing less than a radical spiritual renewal […] founded on the Biblical imperatives of God's preferential option for the marginalized (justice) and the sacredness of all Creation (sustainability)".
As "genuine faith and spirituality entail action", the Chiang Mai Declaration calls for "radical and collective responses, not only from Asia and Oceania, but also from the worldwide faith community".
Full text of the Chiang Mai Declarationhttp://www.oikoumene.org/?id=7285
WCC work on Poverty, wealth and ecology: impact of economic globalizationhttp://www.oikoumene.org/?id=3117
WCC work on climate change:http://www.oikoumene.org/climatechange
Christian Conference of Asiahttp://www.cca.org.hk
Pacific Conference of Churcheshttp://www.pcc.org.fj
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
In this chapter, God outlines for the Israelites which species they can and cannot eat. No explanation is given for why but modern science suggests that this was a way of God protecting the Israelites from meats that could harm them. Most of the animals designated 'unclean' were species that eat carrion, decaying flesh or are bottom dwellers who eat decaying organic matter from the sea floor.
As nutritionist David Meinz observes: "Could it be that God, in His wisdom, created certain creatures whose sole purpose is to clean up after the others? Their entire 'calling' may be to act exclusively as the sanitation workers of our ecology. God may simply be telling us that it's better for us believers not to consume the meat of these trash collectors" (Eating by the Book, 1999, p. 225). http://www.ucgstp.org/lit/booklets/clean/animals.html
As we now know, the pig (the most famous 'unclean' animal) is prone to having a disease where cysts in the meat (trchinia worm larvae) can make people very sick. Pigs also have flesh that is very similar to human flesh, meaning that disease transferral is easier from this species than most.
Although the text mentions several times that certain species are detestable or defiling, I don't think this is an indietment on the species itself, but only on their value as food.
Bruce Marcot has another interesting interpretation: "I've been stumped as to why one would be "defiled" by "any manner of creeping thing" (Leviticus 11:44), especially by eating the particular non-domesticated beasts listed here. At first, I thought it was purely a practical manner, in that some animals listed such as the vulture eat carrion, which can be unhealthily full of parasites and disease; or that other animal foods, particularly those being carrion themselves, would likewise be unhealthy. Or that the term "creeping thing" referred to reptiles and amphibians and maybe small terrestrial mammals such as rodents.
But then why deny the consumption of pigs and rabbits, as well as the purely carnivorous diurnal raptors and the owls, the insectivorous bat, the insects (except for locuts, beetles, and grasshoppers!), cursorial species, and so on, which can be healthy and nutritious parts of one's diet, as they are in so many parts of the world? Snakes, guinae pigs, ants, termites, and other "creeping things" are also eaten in many parts of the world.
The answer came to me when I researched the meaning of the word "defile." According to my dictionaries, defile means, in part, to "desecrate," which in turn means "to profane (the name of)," "to violate the chastity of," and, most importantly, to "abuse the sacredness of."
So, to be "defiled" by consuming "any manner of creeping things" may mean to become profaned, unchaste, and unholy. But why, then, would one become profaned, unchaste, and unholy by consuming "creeping things" and other listed animals? It may be because these animals are, in some sense, to be honored and respected, that is, they themselves are sacred and chaste, and to consume them profanes oneself.
That is, for people to consume something that is sacred (these wildlife) is become unchaste and unholy.
To further explain this, Leviticus 11:44 refers to eating these animals as "unclean;" and "unclean" is defined, in part, as "morally impure (ceremonially impure)." This is a far different definition than simply foul or dirty or unhealthy " http://www.aracnet.com/~brucem/wildbib.htm (emphasis mine).
I quite like this idea. It is worth noting that many of the species labelled 'impure' are, as mentioned earlier, flesh eaters. Predatory species such as eagles, vultures, ospreys, buzzards, kites and hawks naturally occur in very low numbers, and are thus very vulnerable to overexploitation. Perhaps God named these animals as sacred to protect them from extinction. Another group of species classed as unclean, the shark, is currently showing what can happen to these vulnerable species when they are hunted thoughtlessly. Three sharks are currently dying per second. Half are killed for their fins to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. The other half are collateral damage in fishing operations targeting other species. Numbers have declined by 90% already. If sharks become extinct, the joke may be on us, as they play a vital part in many ecosystems and control the numbers of the herbivorous fish that eat phytoplankton. Oh yeah, and phytoplankton are the reason the ocean is the biggest carbon sink on earth. So without sharks we may end up with runaway global warming even faster. Not to mention sharks have intrinsic value as beloved creations of God - sacred creatures.
Maybe it's a bit of both - food value and sacredness. Certainly God wanted us to think about obedience, health and compassion on his creatures.
If you have another interpretation of this topic, feel free to comment!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Conservation groups warn of 'alarming' loss of biodiversity as thousands of animals face imminent extinction
By Andy McSmith
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Six years ago, tiny mustard-coloured toads could be found in their thousands living under the spray from an African waterfall. No one even knew they existed until 1996. Yet today the Kihansi spray toad will be declared extinct in the wild, a symbol of the plight facing 17,000 species that are slipping towards obscurity.
In the case of this charming creature, which unusually for a toad does not start life as a tadpole but as a tiny purple-hued toadlet, a dam and a fungus have combined to bring about its extermination.
Almost one-third of amphibians are at risk, making them the most endangered group on the planet, according to the latest Red List of Threatened Species, published today by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The registers assesses the status of 47,677 species. Of the 6,285 assessed amphibian types, 1,895 are in peril.
"The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting," said Jane Smart, Director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group. "January sees the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity. The latest analysis of the IUCN Red List shows the 2010 target to reduce biodiversity loss will not be met. It's time for governments to start getting serious about saving species and make sure it's high on their agendas for next year, as we're rapidly running out of time."
“There are those who say that you can't build a mass movement on sacrifice - if the changes you look for are difficult and life-altering and done purely because they're the right thing to do. I guess someone should have told that to Jesus”. Tamsin Omond
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
One of Australia's most destructive fisheries is up for review RIGHT NOW. The level of destruction caused by bottom trawling our oceans and bycatch of threatened species like our Australian fur seal is grossly unsustainable. It is unbelievable that it goes on and on and on, every day. But it does.
We have just 7 days to protect our endangered ocean wildlife and habitats. As an ocean lover I'm calling on you to defend our seas once again. Please take action before Wednesday 11th November. Every day, off our coastline, out of sight and out of mind, Australia's largest fishery is catching high numbers of over-fished, deep sea, long lived species which are highly vulnerable to extinction.
Stretching from Cape Leeuwin in South Western Australia to Fraser Island off the Queensland coast, the 'Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery' is one of the most unsustainable fisheries in Australia. This is a fishery that catches over 700 fur seals each year as bycatch. It also catches our precious and threatened sea lions, albatrosses and dolphins.
This is a fishery that bottom trawls our deep sea, destroying fragile habitats as it goes. This is a fishery that has recently increased its quotas for vulnerable species of concern. Now is the time for us to make a stand. Please TAKE ACTION NOW.
Submissions on this destructive fishery are due 5pm (AEST) 11 November 2009.
Incredibly, this fishery has recently increased the quota for the threatened and hugely over-fished orange roughy - our 'old man of the sea', that deep sea, iconic fish that lives for over a century, not breeding until around 30 years of age.
This fishery also catches deep sea sharks, gulper sharks and gemfish - all red list species in Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide. All threatened, all under immense pressure from our very own fisheries. The Government is assessing this fishery and may give export accreditation to fish caught from overfished stocks with environmentally damaging practices.It is incredible that the Australian Government could put their hand on their heart and claim that this fishery is sustainable. Our ocean wildlife needs you to speak out and sign on to the letter today. Be assured that our cyber actions do work. They give AMCS the muscle to let our government know that the public is serious about ocean protection. Please sign the petition today and send to your friends.
Together we will let the Australian Government know that we want our seas managed sustainably, and we want it now. Click here for more information on the the review of this fishery from the Australian Government website.
A day after The Age revealed plans by the Brumby Government to gamble on "clean coal" technology in Victoria, Mr Gore expressed serious doubt about its viability and said Australia's focus should instead be on renewable energy.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
It is hard to know what to say about Leviticus 1. As an environmentalist and believer in Animal Rights, it is hard to stomach. Yet we must note that our God, unlike most of the other God's in the area and the God's of peoples like the Aztecs and Incas, is not satisfied with human sacrifice, but rather with that of animals. That the Lord asks for the sacrifice of perfect animals (perhaps because before original sin this is how they would all have been) clearly indicates that God deems animals worthy to do Him honour - as we have earlier seen that the altar of natural stone is the desire of the Lord. Also, we note that God does not condone the random or vicious killing of animals - the sacrifices are steeped in tradition and God dictates very specific proceedures on how it is to be done. The ceremony is based on respect for God and for His creatures.
We cannot pass this section of Genesis without a mention of Mount Sinai - the great holy mountain of God. Although "the whole earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5) according to the Lord, Mount Sinai was where God came down upon the mountain in the sight of all the people. The Israelites were only allowed to stand at the foot of the mountain, with the higher reaches being so holy only Moses was invited to enter there.
Monday, November 2, 2009
In this reading, God instructs Moses that if he wishes to make an altar to the Lord, it must be made of natural stone, which has not been touched by a chisel. It is interesting that God makes this distinction. He implies that He wishes to be worshiped, not with what is man-made but with that which He has created himself. Obviously God doesn't think that humans are needed to improve things to make them worthy of Him. Perhaps instead of all our magnificent churches and cathedrals we should have adopted the approach of the outdoor cathedrals - just a cross, some seats and the surroundings of nature or a forest.
God doesn't ask for stones cut neatly into squares to build the perfect altar, he asks for natural stones- blemishes and all. Nature can be untidy at times, but God loves it the way it is. In the same way, people in Australia need to learn to love our untidy looking Eucalypt forests instead of longing for the green rolling hills and manicured parks of England. If God wanted those things here they would have been created here. Instead, God loves our rugged sunburnt country and we need to learn to fit our culture and values into this landscape and not make the same mistakes our ancestors made when they treated this country as though it were England - and suffered the consequences in drought, salinity and introduced pests.
I wonder if maybe humans have been on the top of the food chain for so long that we don't know how to live with threats anymore. It's like our knee-jerk reaction to kill spiders when we see them. On the scale of one to ten, spiders are probably only a two in terms of danger. They are tiny, and quite easy for us to avoid. And yet we don't seem to think that we should have to avoid them, so we just kill them. Where is our belief in the sanctity of life? It all kind of goes out the window when we feel threatened doesn't it? I suppose that's why we do senseless things like put nets near beaches to kill things in the hope that will mean we don't get bitten by sharks (shark nets do not close off beaches as popularly believed, and in fact provide no protection at all. But they do kill hundreds of sharks, whales, turtles and fish each year).
Our fear has also reduced the success of various wolf reintroduction projects around the world. Farmers get scared and shoot the wolves to defend their stock. We can't live with losing a little livelihood for the survival an endangered species? We don't seem to manage the things we fear, or our own fear, we simply annihilate the threat.
So if we could overcome our fear of other creatures, would the world become a better place? I think it would. This is an area where education can play a big role. Have you ever seen someone hold a snake for the first time? When one of the animal shows came around to your school or at the zoo perhaps? It can be a magic moment, a moment that turns fear into respect, and eventually respect into liking, or even love. Today's society desperately needs more contact with nature, and especially more contact with God's creatures. It is easy to fear the unknown, but if we have contact with these creatures maybe we can learn to care for them instead. After all, the Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear (1John 4:18). Maybe if we love and trust God, our creator, a bit more, we can learn to love his creatures; and the killing will stop. I am sure only love can save 'dangerous' species.
Action idea: invite an animal show to your church and help bring people closer to animals. Or organise a church trip to the zoo.
Important Lessons from the Bible
"that the world might be saved through him"
Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability
1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.
2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).
3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).
4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)
5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).
Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+