Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Stott (1921-2011)

 I was saddened to hear of John Stott's passing this morning. Not only was John Stott an amazing man of God, a theologian and an evangelist, but he was a patron of A Rocha and a champion of Creation Care. Surely God is saying, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.'

John Stott (1921-2011): 'My hope is that in the future, evangelical leaders will ensure that their social agenda includes such vital but controversial topics as halting climate change, eradicating poverty, abolishing armories of mass destruction, responding adequately to the AIDS pandemic, and asserting the human rights of women and children in all cultures. I hope our agenda does not remain too narrow.'
This video shows John Stott in an A Rocha video about caring for Creation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Share the Earth - MDG7

Share the Earth - MDG7:

"Share the Earth - MDG7 campaign
In Australia we take it for granted that we have food on our tables, clean drinking water in our taps and toilets that work. But for people in poor countries, these basic needs are not guaranteed.

Micah Challenge believes that every person should be able to enjoy the provision of God and the good fruits of God's creation, and that Australia has a responsibility to help ensure poor countries have access to secure food, clean water and a safe climate.

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Micah Challenge's Share the Earth campaign has educational resources, recipe cards that people can sign calling on the prime minister to act on MDG7 and a share the table event that people can hold in their church.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Video for Hope for Creation simulcast

This is fairly old now. But I hadn't seen it before and so I thought there might be other people who hadn't seen it either. It's the video from the Hope for Creation simulcast with Matthew Sleeth. Well worth watching.

Hope for Creation: A Live Global Simulcast from Blessed Earth on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ZENIT - Pope to Parents: Take the Kids Outdoors

ZENIT - Pope to Parents: Take the Kids Outdoors:
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The Pope that has become known as the Green Pope has come out with another statement that almost makes me want him to be beatified.

He has told people to 'revivify your spirits by contemplating the splendors of Creation'. And he said to parents, 'teach your children to see nature, respect and protect it as a magnificent gift that presents to us the grandeur of the Creator!'

It is fantastic to see that Pope Benedict XVI recognises the spiritual value of nature. Not only does he urge people to respect and protect it, but he encourages people to spend time in it and to make sure their children do too.

Some might say that telling people to get outdoors isn't really part of the Pope's job description and he should stick with telling people to pray or go to church. However, the fact that the leader of the Catholic Church speaks about the environment so often shows that he at least thinks it is an important Catholic (and Christian) issue. To him, it's not speaking about matters that have nothing to do with Catholicism. It's speaking about matters that have everything to do with Catholicism - whether people see that or not.

When such an important Christian leader and theologian devotes so much time to speaking about the environment, shouldn't we at least consider whether it's an issue that all Christians should care about? And whether we follow the Pope or not, when he tells Catholics to go outdoors and appreciate nature, maybe we should think about following his advice too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carbon Price and Repentance

            ‘What will it do?’ This, in essence, is the question many people have been asking about the carbon price.
It may have been asked in very different ways by people with very different concerns and views. ‘What will it do to my hip pocket?’ ‘What will it do to industry?’ ‘What will it do to the economy?’ ‘Will it really do anything if other countries are pricing pollution too?’ ‘What will it do for the future of renewable energy?’ ‘What will it do to cut carbon emissions?’ ‘What will it do to ensure a future for my children?’ ‘Will it actually do enough?’ But it still boils down to that single question: What will it do?
As Julia Gillard has stated, we need action. And so, in one sense, ‘What will it do?’ is the right question to ask. But perhaps another question that is equally important is ‘What does it say?’
In Christianity, repentance is very important. Repentance is not just about saying sorry for our sins. It means turning away from those sins. It is about a change of direction, a new way of living and being in the world. Instead of focusing on outward behaviour, it turns its attention inward, to the heart.
            This does not mean that repentance involves no outward change. It should involve stopping the particular sin we have repented of. It may also mean making reparation for any wrongs we have committed. That is an important part of repentance and, without it, it may be doubtful whether we have truly repented at all.
            However to ask ‘What does it do?’ of repentance would be a shallow question. There may be no outward visible sign that we have repented. It’s not like a magic button that we press that immediately stops us sinning or feeling guilty. We may repent of one sin yet still have a long way to go before that sin is completely removed from our lives. Many Christians have at least one sin that they need to repent of on a continual basis. That does not mean they have not truly repented. They may have genuinely turned away from that sin and yet still be drawn back into that behaviour.   
            ‘So what’s the point of repenting if it doesn’t actually do anything?’ That’s another question that really misses the point. It is the turning away that’s important, not what it actually does. However, when repentance is real and we genuinely turn away from sin, we free ourselves to turn towards something new. It is then that we can affect real change in our lives, change that is based not only on stopping a particular sin, but on a whole new way of seeing things. That kind of change is deeper and more real than the type that is only based on acting or not acting.
            So what does all this have to do with the carbon tax? Obviously Australia is not a person where there can be an inward change of heart. And it would be fair to say that many Australians have not turned away from carbon pollution at all. They are still firmly faced in that direction. However, the fact that the prime minister wanted to introduce this carbon price shows that enough of us have turned away (repented) from a high carbon emitting society. We want to turn towards something new. 
            This new carbon price is allowing Australia to do that. It certainly won’t be enough to save the world. But it means that we have acknowledged that our current level of carbon emissions is wrong. To put it in Christian terms, it is sinful. We have turned away from that sinful behaviour by acknowledging that it is wrong and by realising there is a better way to do things. And now we are moving in a new direction.
            That’s a good thing. What will it do? I don’t know. But I hope and pray that it may be the first step towards not just Australia but the world turning from a way of life that is destructive and exploitative to the Earth and her resources and towards a new reality where we see the Earth as something to be valued and protected.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Lord's Prayer - God's will on Earth

When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth, what exactly are we praying for? Are we praying for God’s will to be done in our own lives? Are we praying for God’s will to be done in our lives and the lives of people we know and love? Are we praying for God’s will to be done in the lives of Christians all over the world? Are we praying for God’s will to be done in the lives of people all over the world? Are we praying for social and global structures to be changed so that they reflect more of God’s will? Or are we actually praying for the Earth, the entire planet?

I was in a conversation with someone the other week who believed that ‘God’s will on Earth’ meant ‘God’s will for all Christians.’ He thought it quite obvious that we wouldn’t be praying for the Earth, as in the actual Earth. His reasoning was that because we say ‘Our Father’ at the beginning of the prayer, it must be Christians that are talking and therefore the prayer only applies for Christians.

As I pointed out to him, I use the term ‘Our Father’ because that is how Jesus taught us to address God, but that doesn’t mean I am praying only for myself. I am asking ‘Our Father’ to do his will in all the Earth. I care about the Earth and so I want God’s will to be done in it. My friend responded that just because I care about the Earth doesn’t mean that God does.

However, doesn’t the fact that Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth show that, yes, he does care? After all, Jesus could have taught us to pray ‘Your will be done in our lives.’ He didn’t. He taught us to pray, ‘Your will be done on earth.’

The Lord’s Prayer is so well-known that it’s easy to say the words, without really thinking about what they mean. I usually say the Lord’s Prayer with my children just before they go to bed. And I must admit that there have been times when I may have been saying the Lord’s Prayer, but I was thinking, ‘God, please let them go to sleep quickly tonight so I can get some study done.’ It’s so easy to slide into praying for our will, rather than God’s.

But the line from the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that we are praying for God’s will - not ours. Just because we are the ones addressing God doesn’t mean that he has to confine Himself to what interests us.

Earth is a very big place. And God’s will for Earth - that’s too big for any human to get their head around. So even if we’re not actually praying for our will, it’s hard not to limit God’s will to what our idea of earth should be. And honestly, I think that’s okay. I think it’s better to pray for something specific and actually mean something by those words than it is to pray more generally and have no concept of what you’re praying for.

But I do think we need to remind ourselves that we are praying for God’s will for earth - not just our lives, not just individuals, not just people - but the whole Earth. And because we were taught to pray for it, that must mean God has a will for Earth. We don’t need to understand it. We don’t need to figure out what His will might be. God is perfectly capable of figuring out His will without our help. We just need to pray, as Jesus taught us, that God’s will be done on earth.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ezekiel 35:12

Ezekiel 35:12 ‘You shall know that I, the Lord, have heard all the abusive speech that you uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are laid desolate, they are given us to devour.’

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catholic Culture : In Depth Analysis : The Green Pope’s Dilemma

Catholic Culture : In Depth Analysis : The Green Pope’s Dilemma:


"Thus the Pope stresses that we must guard against two errors:

1. Nature is greater than man: The neo-pantheistic attitude which finds a kind of salvation in nature is misguided because the human person has a supernatural destiny which nature is destined to help him to achieve.
2. Nature is raw material to be manipulated: Nature “is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a ‘grammar’ which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation.” Without this understanding, we do violence to all of nature, including the nature of man himself.

But these two mistakes are culturally systemic. Therefore, the dilemma faced by Pope Benedict—who is commonly nicknamed the “green” pope for his interest in environmental stewardship—is how to communicate a constructive attitude toward both man and nature without having every environmental discussion co-opted either by the pantheists or the technocrats.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CARITAS | Caritas Australia Calls On Families To Join Fight Against Climate Change

CARITAS | Caritas Australia Calls On Families To Join Fight Against Climate Change: "International aid and development agency Caritas Australia has called on Aussie families to support those worst affected by climate change - the world’s poorest.

Caritas is launching its A Just Climate campaign which empowers and encourages concerned people, families and groups to hold their own organised community events to raise support and awareness.

A Just Climate is designed to engage communities, local politicians and generate much-needed support for climate change action in hardest hit countries like Fiji, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Kiribati.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Only one in five kids climb trees, Planet Ark research says |

Only one in five kids climb trees, Planet Ark research says | "IT'S a tree change - but not of the positive kind.

Safety fears, lack of family time and addiction to technology has created a generation of children who no longer climb trees.

New research shows only 20 per cent of today's children take part in the age-old pastime compared with 64 per cent of their parents.

The Climbing Trees: Getting Aussie Kids Back Outdoors study, released today, reveals 73 per cent of parents played outdoors more often than they did indoors when they were young, compared to only 13 per cent of today's children.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fresh (the movie): Connecting Churches with the Local Food Movement |

Fresh (the movie): Connecting Churches with the Local Food Movement |

An article on Sustainable Traditions about the movie, Fresh: Connecting Churches with the Local Food Movement.


"After we watched ‘FRESH‘ at a local viewing hosted by some friends of ours who own a grass-based family farm- it was like someone lit a fire under me- I was inspired. It was similar to ‘Food Inc.‘ but it was heavy on hope and it made me realize it didn’t matter what corporations decided to do with our food- we could just create a new, more locally based, decentralized and sustainably-minded food system. The connection had been made in my mind. If I don’t like the way things are- I don’t need to revamp society and bring down a corrupt system- I just need to link arms with folks in my community and begin planting seeds today.

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Green Sprouts: Imagination

Green Sprouts: Imagination:


"Our limited imaginations can keep us from understanding our situation and from seeing how to best address the challenges we face. May God fill our imaginations so that we can be better stewards of the earth!

But realizing the limits of our imaginations can also be a blessing, because we know that no matter how good we get at imagining the possibilities for the future of our planet, we can never fully understand the bigger picture.

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This is a really good article by Betsy Blake Bennett on the part our imagination plays in environmental stewardship. Green Sprouts: Imagination:

Kids not playing outside anymore - Sunrise - Channel Seven - Yahoo!7 TV - Yahoo!7 TV

Kids not playing outside anymore - Sunrise - Channel Seven - Yahoo!7 TV - Yahoo!7 TV: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

This report tells us something that we probably all know anyway - kids aren't playing outside as much as they used to. What I'd really like to know, though, is what effect this has on them. I believe that being in nature and outside has spiritual benefits that we just don't get when we spend all our time indoors. At the same time, I get that it's harder for parents to let their kids play outside now. When I was a child, I used to go all over the place by myself. Now that I have children, I worry when my 12-year old walks one block to the service station to get milk. And I just can't bring myself to say go down to the park and come back before dinner. I know I'm being over-protective. And I know that I'm stopping them from having valuable outdoor time. But it's a hard one for me. At least we have a good backyard!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Peace of Wild Things - Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 — Wendell Berry

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ezekiel 34:18-19

Ezekiel 34:18-19: ‘Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have fouled with your feet?

The Bible and Creation Care: Psalms — Flourish

The Bible and Creation Care: Psalms — Flourish:

From Flourish: "a collection of verses from the Psalms that speak of creation."

Extract: "Copy the notations down in your Bible and then read them all in the context of the psalms they are found in. Work them into your personal Bible reading plan. Discuss them with your Bible study group. Take time with each Psalm and let the words soak into your head and heart. As the psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man who … meditates on the law day and night.”

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