St Peter appears quite oafish in the Alfresco of the Last Supper that lies behind the altar of St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham. Broad shouldered and stern faced he looks as if he should be ‘engaging’ in a scrum not with the disciples and Christ over bread and wine. He seems out of place quite frankly. Bemused and in denial as to what is going on. It’s that look of malaise, incredulity and weariness that glazes over your eyeballs every time the word ‘Climate change is mentioned’. I felt a lot like that last Sunday as I passed through the Church’s small yet resolved wooden doors to attend the ‘Climate change workshop’ led by CAFOD and A Rocha as part of the Taizé Birmingham weekend. What could I as a willing contributor to climate change possibly contribute back? Tackling what seems to be a matter of the survival of our species is out of my hands, best left to those who know more and would perhaps have a significant impact upon my own ability to go to sleep at night. I also know somebody who is writing her PHD on developing new ways to store nuclear waste so turning off a light bulb did strike me as a bit lackadaisical in my ‘new age’ outlook. What’s more so, why should I take heed of this world when everything I’ve been told about Christianity is supranatural, transcendent, immaterial and spirit. Reconciling a ‘Theocentric’ environmentalist message with an immaterial faith is challenging to say the least. Render unto Ceasar that which is his, my kingdom is not of this earth, the general apocalyptic tone of ummm the apocalypse. Well if the statistics that were projected onto the wall directly adjacent to Judas are correct the bible is lying because we do not have to wait for a ‘second coming’ of Christ at all. We are ushering in our own one.
The man from A rocha (the rock) told us of Jeremiah 29 and our duty of care for creation. The ‘oikos’ of planet earth, economic idolatry of post war Western industry, the world being broken, the poorest suffering first, how climate change caused grain prices to crash, which in turn fermented the Arab spring, which caused the Syrian civil war which caused the current refuguee crisis sweeping across Europe. Whilst all thoroughly terrifying, facts speak louder than words.
The Overhead was taken from here – http://assets.wwf.org.uk/custom/lpr2016/?utm_source=search&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=lpr2016&pc=HBG003004&pc=AQJ001002&ds_medium=cpc&gclid=CODp4pHlzNMCFY8Q0wodRzACvg&gclsrc=aw.ds
A link to the WWF’s living planet index. I knew from launching a people’s elbow onto a friends head when I was younger that The Rock and the WWF were related to one another but this new relationship between the two was news to me! Shame this new one isn’t pretending in its melodrama. These statistics along with hundreds of others are just a google away and real. The weight of them is soul crushing. The Holy Father writes in Laudato Si that we are making a material desert of the world and in turn becoming spiritual deserts ourselves.
A Rocha is portugese for the the rock and in conjunction with CAFOD they struggle in the tremendous task of loving God’s world, his creation and everything in it. I suggested in passing that maybe this was a bit ‘paganistic’. All this talk of trees, and plants, deserts and seas, birds and fish reminded me of gaia, mother earth and all her earth centred faiths which sat uncomfortably with me until I considered the incarnation. God so loved the world…. We are not Nestorian or Arian in our church. A middle ground was forged 1300 years ago at the council of Nicaea. We believe in the material bodily raised Christ. If the resurrection of his earthly body did not happen then our belief was for nothing. You do not have to ‘intertwine’ environmentalism with Christianity. There is little fallacious or forced about it. Christ died so that we may live, on Earth as it is in heaven. I seriously doubt he had this type of life in mind for us.
The speaker from A Rocha made an interesting point that out of Western modernity with its ego-centric impulses, think Neo-liberalism, where competition between one another not only defines us as a species but also our fate, and ecocentric agnosticism a middle ground was being forged by Christians where a legitimate ‘theocentric’ environmentalism could be reclaimed from the bible. It moved the speaker enough to write a PHD on Pope Francis’ own environmentalist message which his Holy Father attests to in Laudato Si. Theocentric environmentalism is spiritual Christianity as being the beating heart of this material world.
written by a CAFOD Volunteer
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