Lent 2018

The North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church (NCCUMC) kindly invited me in 2017 to join their Creation Care team. At a meeting that year, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward suggested that during the Lenten season we produce some teachings that clarify how creation care/climate change is a biblical issue, as well as an environmental one; that is, that the teachings reveal the theological underpinnings of climate change as a religious issue.

In response, I wrote three brief articles that are being posted to a website of the NCCUMC: generousnc.org.

The three teachings are also posted to the website of hospitableplanet.com under the Events tab: see Lent 2018. I hope you will read them over and send any comments using the Contact form on the site.


Hospitable Planet Featured by United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist News Service posted to its website a comprehensive and complimentary article about Hospitable  Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change.  This resulted from the United Methodist Women selecting Hospitable Planet for its 2018 reading program. You can find the article at this link:  http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/using-biblical-texts-to-guide-climate-action

I am very grateful that the book is receiving this exposure for, after more than two dozen talks at congregations, I continue to believe that members of the Christian and Jewish communities can serve as powerful forces urging action on climate change.

Reminders of biblical teachings, coupled with scientific reasons for action, bring essentially uncontestable arguments to the debate: an energy company executive, or a politician, is not going to challenge a teaching of Jesus or a verse in Deuteronomy.

Let us put our beliefs into action and call for Environmental Protection, not Environmental Destruction.

The Paris Climate Agreement: Withdrawal, then Response

The president’s announcement that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement was not unexpected. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was the centerpiece of the U.S. commitment under the Agreement and the president scuttled that months ago, leaving us unlikely to meet our goal.

The president’s oft-repeated objective to “make America great again” has rather, through his actions, diminished the U.S. in the eyes of the world to an unprecedented degree. He has aligned us with Syria and Nicaragua, two countries that did not sign the Agreement for vastly different reasons, and placed us in opposition to the other 194 countries of the world.

The responses to his announcement, both nationally and internationally, have been heartening. Individuals, local and state governments, and businesses have expressed their determination to meet our commitment under the Agreement. This effort is made more difficult given the dysfunction in the legislative branch and the ignorance and malevolence in the executive branch.

As a result, Americans will need to take to the streets even more than we did during the civil rights movement. Not with marches to express our demands, but with massive, sustained protests at those businesses and industries most responsible for carbon emissions.

For example, we can achieve the goals of the CPP by demanding that electric utility companies come into compliance with the state-by-state requirements of the CPP within the timeframe specified, preferably earlier.

We can sweeten the pot by urging public utility commissions to increase the profit margin for a decade for regulated utilities if they accelerate actions to meet their requirements under the CPP.

On the political side, we must repeatedly remind our senators and congresspersons that they will only qualify for our vote if they push for climate change mitigation. Opposition to that guarantees them no vote. While the prospect of voting for a candidate not in the party we favor may seem unappealing, we must remain mindful that the stakes could not be higher: we have a narrow window of time during which we can prevent devastating and irreversible changes to our planet. We cannot postpone action, and voting is one of the easiest ways to effect change. Perhaps this will prompt some politicians to give priority to country over party.

Consider one aspect of the natural world that you love. Now picture that aspect being ruined. All Earth changes as the climate changes. Act, if for no other reason, in your self-interest.

Let us take action as never before in response to a crisis never before experienced.