Saturday, April 21, 2007

earth day: where are the christians?

A reporter from Challenge Weekly rang yesterday. He wanted to do a story on us at Opawa Baptist, because he had noted that Opawa Baptist was the only church in New Zealand he had come across doing anything for Earth Day.

Since Earth Day, April 22, falls on a Sunday this year, all of our church newsletter’s will include a Sustainability insert. I am preaching on “what does the resurrection of Jesus have to do with the environment” at the 10:30 am service, part 3 of a 4 part series on “Yeah? Jesus alive. Right!” that explores what the resurrection means for our everyday lives. From 3 pm we are showing the Inconvenient Truth, and a scientist and Christian film reviewer will respond. I am then preaching on “On earth as in heaven: is the Kingdom of God good news for our environment?” on Sunday at 7pm, starting with this great video clip from the Simpson.

After the phone call, I was not sure whether to feel a lone leader, or a lone fruit loop. I had thought that people who worship God the Creator, and who meet on Sunday when it is Earth Day, would have quite a bit to say about the environment, particularly given all the current societal concern around global warming. Yet it seems that I think alone. Am I missing something?

Posted by steve at 01:01 PM


  1. Revolution is attending the festivities in Fort Collins Colorado and then we’ll head back to our place to watch some Discovery Channel stuff I have saved.

    I think we might be the only ones, but I can’t say for sure.

    With all the talk of Evangelicals being more concerned about the environment, I hope it turns to more action.

    But with my limited scope, I can’t say for sure what other churches might be doing around here. Next year, we want to get a booth at the festival and make our presence known a bit more…

    Comment by David — April 22, 2007 @ 3:02 am

  2. I am totally with you on the “Christians should be leading the environmental cause” bandwagon. BUT I sit on the other side of the fence re global warming. Maybe I’m just naive, but I am standing with the likes of Dr Jay Wile, who present good evidence that it is not the tragedy popular media makes it out to be.
    I reduce my car usage, not because of global warming, but to reduce air pollution and to be able to save money to send to the ubiquitous “poor”.
    I do not feel the need to reduce my family size (apparently the most important thing you can do to reduce carbon emissions), because I believe children are a blessing from God, not a curse on the environment.
    I eat a little meat without any guilt because cow’s farts doh’t bother me! Plus, Colin Tudge in his very balanced, scientifically-sound (even though it is evolutionary) book argues strongly against the “grains take less room and are therefore better than animals” idea. I highly recommend his book “So Shall We Reap”. On the back it says: “Anyone who understands that the politics of food production are at least as important for the future of the planet as the politics of war or of business will want to read this excellent book. And anyone who doesn’t understand that should be made to read it”!!!!!!!!!
    But I didn’t need to read that far – the subtitle had grabbed my attention: (How everyone who is liable to be born in the next ten thousand years could eat very well indeed; and why, in practice, our immediate descendents are likely to be in serious trouble)

    oops getting a bit off topic.

    Steve, keep pushing the environment barrow – even if I can’t agree with you about the details! As Christians, we should all be leaders, we should all be living intentionally, we should all be thinking, we should all be exercising our stewardship.

    Comment by Rachael — April 22, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  3. Hey, fruit loops are great, don’t knock being one. At least this particular fruit loop is getting some media attention unlike those of us who have been taking knockbacks from our non-environmentally minded christian compatriots and selectively skeptical pastors for years.
    Keep it up, wish I was back in Christchurch, I could have attended Opawa Baptist’s Earthday service and then gone out riding in Steven Muir’s cycling church! Which by the way reminds me of the interview National Radio had with Steven Muir today about things christian and ecological proving beyond a doubt that you are certainly not a lone fruit loop (perhaps only one of dying number).

    Comment by Andrew McDonald — April 22, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

  4. Steve

    Keep up the great work. Up hear in Hamilton friends of ours go to an Anglican church and they regularly get teaching about how important the environment is. I haven’t talked to them today so I don’t know if they did anything special today.

    I totally believe that God called us to steward the environment. In the “dominion” mandate the word dominion means to steward and to tend something to bring it to more fullness. Therefore we must be environmentalists if we are Christian. The question then becomes how do we work out this into our lives.

    Comment by david — April 22, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  5. Steve: You are a fruit loop, but don’t take that as a criticism. As for Earth Day, I think most Christians are to pre-occupied with the pursuit of wealth to care about Earth, especially as they see there future dwelling in the clouds…

    Comment by Jonathan — April 23, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  6. Wow that’s a bit harsh Jonathan. Not to mention an outstanding generalisation. Frankly, on behalf of Christians everywhere, I’m offended.

    Anyway, I think what you’re missing is that most people have no clue it was Earth Eay. It’s just not that well advertised. So I think that explains your lonely outlook. Maybe the proponents could do a bit of a better job ‘getting it out there’.

    Comment by Sharyn — April 23, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

  7. Unfortunately I think GW has become somewhat of a marketing gimmick for global corporations. Meanwhile “real” environmental issues at the Regional and local level are being forgotten (waster quality, air quality, species diversity). I would argue that the real scary issues of our time (environmentally speaking) include loss of fresh water and the removal of bio-mass from the oceans. But these issues just aren;t getting the air time they deserve due ot the hype over GW.

    Comment by phil_style — April 24, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  8. Sharyn,
    we sent out information to all churches in canterbury via the max palmer email and via church secretaries email. so i would be fascinated to know if it turned up in your church newsletter.

    if it did not, then the blockage might not the “the proponents could do a bit of a better job ‘getting it out there’.”


    Comment by steve — April 24, 2007 @ 9:34 am

  9. Phil,

    environmental issues seem so much more prominent now than say a year ago. take labour’s new “sustainability policy.” are you saying that this public interest is actually a bad thing, diverting interest from the “really scarey” issues you name?

    seeing the movie Inconvenient Truth, and watching what would happen to Shanghai or India, for example, the displacement of over 40 million people, mostly poor. that seems “pretty scarey” to me.


    Comment by steve — April 24, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  10. Steve,

    I’m not coninced that the numbers in “the inconvenient truth” represent a truthful interpretation of the effects of global climate change. However I do think climate change is real, and that human interactinos with the bio-sphere are at least partly responsible.

    As it stands famine, water quality diseases such as cholera and other environemtnal problems already have a huge impact on humanity now.

    I am also of the opinion that reducing emissions shoudl be done for the purposes or air quality, not climate chnage. If all our environmental policieis are directed at climate change, the most drastic changes to human behaviour will be most likely come in carbon trade-offs. Many of the proposed colutinos to climate change have other negative effects.

    For me, the key to environmental care to to re-connect people to the land, water and air resources upon which we all depend in a tangible, observabe and local way.

    Resource scarcity (water, fish) is not only goign to harm natural systems but it is very likley that we are gong to see increased conflict arising from this also. At least humans are mobile enough to migrate away from inundated land to drier areas. Unfortunately war and disease often strike too quickly, and the results of these things are are more catastrophic.

    Comment by phil_style — April 26, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

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