Naomi Klein’s best selling book, This Changes Everything, presents an in-depth analysis of climate change and its relation to contemporary global economics. Christians should read it and discuss the various implications that surface. At St. Laurence, we decided for our annual Lenten study to focus on some of Klein’s insight in relation to our Biblical mandate as Christians to care for ourselves and to care for the earth.
Lenten Tuesdays will begin and end with self-care: Looking at personal journeying through the wilderness and ending with a Labyrinth experience. The in-between weeks feature sessions focusing on Klein’s work through the lenses of the Biblical ‘creation mandate’ the concept of “Jubilee” and its relevance today, and the exploration of “Sabbath Economics” and the Christian call to “Simplicity”.
Here is the outline for our Five weeks of Lenten exploration coordinated by Rev. April Stanley, Rev. Steve Bailey, and Rev. Carla McGhie.
A Lenten Journey into Self-Care and Earth-Care
Margaret Atwood, Canadian cultural icon, says to talk of ‘climate’ change isn’t helpful and that we really should be talking about ‘the everything’ change. That’s because issues of the changing climate are already affecting so much in our world beside temperatures—sea levels, crop production, species extinction. Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything, presents a comprehensive analysis of what we know about the on-going ‘climate debate’ and where we are heading.
All of this is relevant to us as stewards of God’s world. Klein argues that climate change is a civilizational wake-up call. We are faced with the task of changing the world — before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe. Self-Care and Earth-Care walk hand in hand as we consider our responsibility to live according to the principles of the Reign of God among us — something that we commit to as followers of Jesus. Since both are important aspects of Lenten observance, our first and last gatherings will be led by our Food for the Soul group.
Klein’s thesis is that climate change cannot be separated from global economics in our increasingly complex world. “How then shall we live?” is a key question for both self and global examination.
Tuesdays in Lent 7:30 pm
The Wilderness Experience, Food for the Soul (February 24) The Lenten Journey traditionally follows Jesus through his ministry to the Cross. Just as Jesus’ work begins with a time in the wilderness, we will explore what it means to feel oneself in the wilderness.
The Biblical ‘Creation mandate’ (March 3), Climate, and Global Economic Directions. Can we Balance Earth-Care and Economic Growth?
Global Complexity: (March 10) Can we ‘reset the clock’? The concept of “Jubilee” as a Reflection of God’s image in Humanity; Is “Jubilee” still possible?
Sabbath Economics (March 17) as a social and economic model: Are we called to a ‘theology of simplicity’?
Labyrinth, Food for the Soul (March 24) Perhaps appropriately, on this final night, we will use the ancient spiritual resource of the Labyrinth to focus on where we feel God might be calling us individually to engage with protecting our environment.
* * * * * * * * * * *
In terms of the Biblical ‘Creation Mandate”, we explored Genesis 1: 26-31; Genesis 2: 18 – 24; Genesis 11: 1-9; Psalm 8; and Exodus 23: 1-11. In that context we considered together a number of passage from Naomi Klein’s book dealing with the topics of “Domination versus Dominion”, “The Importance of our World View”; “Wrong biblical Interpretation”; and “The devaluation of Humanity as God’s Image”.
We also took into consideration the January 2015 “Open Letter to the Republican Congress” by American church leaders Brian McLaren and Cameron Trimble and Wendell Berry’s excellent essay, “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”.
“Resetting the Global Economic and Social Clock” in the light of the Bible’s teaching on the concept of “Jubilee” (Leviticus 25: 3-13, 35-45) produced some excellent discussion of what our vision for the Kingdom of God should look like in terms of earth-care. A great contemporary application of the idea of “Jubilee” is the “Strike Debt” initiative which is an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Next we will tackle Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 in relation to key insights into the implications of the Christian ideal of Simplicity in relation to contemporary economics and social practices. Richard J. Foster’s essay “The Discipline of Simplicity” is very helpful in this regard as well as “The GalliReport” article “Simplicity: It’s Complicated” from Christianity Today.
We’ll also take a look at some of Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood’s characterizing of “God’s Gardeners” in The Year of the Flood and look at some wonderful selections from “God’s Gardeners’ Oral Hymnbook” from that novel. I’ll share one of my favourites that was set to music and sung as part of a music workshop I participated in at Sorrento Centre a couple of years back:
The Peach or Plum
The Peach or Plum that spreads its boughs
is beauteous at time of flower.
And Birds and Bees and Bats rejoice,
And sip its nectar hour by hour.
And Pollination then takes place:
For every Nut or Seed or Fruit,
A tiny golden particle
Has winged its way, and taken root.
Then swells the oval on the stem,
And slowly ripens, week by week –
Within it stored the nourishment
That Birds and Beasts and Men do seek.
And in each Seed or Fruit or Nut
Is coiled a silver infant Tree
That will arise if planted right,
Unfurling flowers, a joy to see.
When next you eat a golden Peach
And lightly throw away the pit,
Consider how it shines with Life –
God dwelling in the midst of it.
The theology of Christian Simplicity hearkens back to a series on this blog on the poetry of George Herbert, 17th century English poet and priest.
Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam and one of the blogmastgers at New Westminster Anglican Blog. Your comments and contributions are always welcomed.
Are you doing anything special for Lent 2015? Share it with us.