Christians expect their faith communities to espouse and even promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation. It is natural to want to belong to organizations that are doing the right thing — we are drawn to those groups that nurture as well as challenge us to live better lives.
writes Joe Gunn, in the Prairie Messenger.
With his long commitment to justice within the Catholic Church and in ecumenical coalitions (now Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice (http://www.cpj.ca/) Joe writes on hoe the world religions are responding to Climate Change. Here he mines the work of Edmonton academic Randolph Haluza-Delay
How do we evaluate how our faith communities are doing in this regard?
A new book ventures important insights as to how faith communities are responding to the climate crisis. An Edmonton-based academic, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, is among the editors of How the World’s Religions Are Responding to Climate Change (Routledge, 2014). The activities of several religions in various parts of the planet are analyzed.
In an earlier work Haluza-DeLay focused on the barriers to an engaged faith: focus on the after life, focus on other issues, an obsession with individualist solutions (no social critique) and finally the comfortable nature of bourgeois religion and the fear of change.
In one chapter Mishka Lysack an Anglican priest evaluates how Canadian faith communities are responding to climate change. Those who are “conspicuous through their lack of a current public stance on climate change—” Evangelical Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism.”
How utterly sad to see the episcopal leaders Canada’s largest denomination Roman Catholicism sitting on their hands, lagging behind on the greatest moral issue confronting our wounded globe.
One of our female prophets Sr.Elizabeth Johnson in her new book Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love writes
Still, critics have rightly censured Christianity for long abetting the ecological crisis. Indeed, with some exceptions, Christian churches often choose not to face this calamity with the energy they spend on other matters. It’s as though the planet were undergoing its agony in the garden, and we, the disciples of Jesus, are curled up fast asleep. Waking up to our own role in this crisis will require a dramatic course correction, a reorienting of our ethical compass away from ourselves alone and toward all creation. In a word, ecological conversion requires profound humility.
The bishops of our major Canadian cities seem to ne among those napping on the job. There needs as Johnson says “a reorienting of in this case our ecclesiological compass”.
Meanwhile the People of God are moving forward with or without episcopal blessing.
In another article Gunn pointed a way:
Here in Canada, prophetic religious leaders like the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Rev. Susan Johnson, and some members of the Canadian Council of Churches, have also committed themselves to this fast.
Some of us who are fasting are donating the money we would have spent on food during the fast to disaster relief efforts, or to environmental organizations and groups like CPJ which are working for ecological justice.
Food for thought?
There is a long history in Christianity of fasting as a strategy for personal purification and social change. Fasting is not demanded in the Bible, nor should it be seen as a punishment of the flesh. It should be done with joy, as a strategy to renew our relationship with God and God’s purpose for the world (Matthew 6: 16 – 18). Christians engaged in efforts to right social wrongs – from William Wilberforce to Martin Luther King – have often engaged in fasting and prayer as essential elements of their struggles to initiate change. Indeed, joining a prayerful fast can be a way to engage in what John Calvin described as “making the invisible kingdom visible.”
A petty good Lenten idea.