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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Youth for Eco-Justice Day 7

Today we discussed theological and ethical perspectives on eco-nomy. Michael Schut, Environmental Officer for the Episcopal Church USA, was our guide.

We began by reviewing the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Matt 4: 1-10), and paring back the core of the three temptations to the following:
1. Turning stones to bread - the temptation to prove who you are by demonstrating your abilities.
2. Angels will bear you up - the temptation to prove who you are by how others react and respond to you.
3. All will be given to you - the temptation to prove who you are by what you have - your status, power and wealth.

As you can see, each of these temptations is part of the temptation to prove who we are, which is why the Devil taunts Jesus in each line by saying "If you are the Son of God", when clearly the Devil knew who he was.

This constant need to prove ourselves makes us slaves to sin by becoming an entrapping cycle and not allowing us to simply rest in our identities as the beloveds of God.

We can see the outworking of these temptations and our falling to them in the way our economy is currently set up. In contrast to this "God's interest is in building a world where all creatures can have abundant life" (Doug Metes, God's Economy).

You will note that advertising is usually based on one of these three temptations and triggering our need to prove ourselves in one of these areas.

We then discussed which of the temptations resonate the most with us and which communities in our lives help us to resist these temptations (hopefully our churches, but not always).

Next we discussed the circular nature of Nature's Economy, where "waste" becomes food, the system draws on local resources that have limits, the system is essentially closed (excepting solar energy) and unique communities of place are created. In contrast, the current dominant human economy is more like a line, where labour, resources and commodities go in, advertising is added and waste and negative externalities are created in the quest to make stuff. In this system communities are only valuable as sources of resources, consumers or somewhere to dump waste.

Question for thought: What are the theologies of these two economies?
This is really quite an interesting question as you delve into it deeply. Let me know what you think.

Thus, the aim for a more sustainable economy is to move towards a circle from the line. We can do this by bending the line (eg. Cradle to Cradle design) or by moving to support economies that are already circular.

In a circular system perhaps money has to be tied to something real.

And we might need to work towards something like a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) instead of the GDP. This would, for example, put a monetary value on parents caring for their children at home instead of this causing a reduction in GDP as opposed to someone else being paid for childcare.

We also discussed how we have turned faith into insurance policies on salvation and sources of entertainment. We have become goal minded about our faith instead of focusing on right relationships.

To look up:
Book -"Money and Faith: the search for enough"

During the afternoon session we developed our visions for what we want to achieve and shared these with each other.

Here is mine:

"So, we have finally done it. Every church in the country now has at least a Basic Certificate level Five Leaf Eco-Award (for more info on the program see the pages section of this blog). Five Leaf has become a large organisation with solid funding, many staff and a range of divisions. We hold national awards ceremonies for all faiths each year. Also, we have managed to green all Christian venues, theological colleges and Christian universities as well as all church organisations.

We have taught all churches in Australia to care about the environment and everyone is familiar with Creation Care Theoloogy and tries to love sustainably at home and church. We have new creation hymns, youth green groups, and big ecumenical outdoor festivals areound the Season of Creation. Everyone does their bit for social and environmental justice and the Australian church has become a credible and powerful advocate for environmental issues both nationally and internationally.

Especially exciting is that churches around Australia are now involved in species conservation and wildlife rescue. In addition, they regularly buy land containig important habitats to protect it. We have taught the people of Western Australia and all over the country to love their unique biodiversity and landscapes and to protect them. Finally, these actions have made the church once again relevant to our society and congregations are growing and expanding rapidly."


After dinner we had a panel discussion with some members of Ecumenical organisations about the progress at COP17.

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Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

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."
Romans 8:19

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."
Genesis 2:15

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+