Sunday, August 14, 2011

the environment and justice


Last month a friend of mine remarked in the blog comments that, by being environmentally conscious, "we not only care for the environment but we in turn care for people who depend on the environment, which of course is all of us." This point is so simple, and so important. If present human exploitation of the planet's resources is indeed eroding the earth's capacity to support its inhabitants--present inhabitants or those of future generations--then Christians already, without any further theological rationale, have reason to protest, to model a new way of living, over against the wasteful and neglectful practices rampant today.

David Bookless, co-founder of A Rocha UK and author of God Doesn't Do Waste, has written on the intertwining of issues of justice and ecology. The below paragraph, from an essay in Mission in the Twenty-First Century: Exploring the Five Marks of Global Mission, offers a startling diagnosis of one point in this convergence. Consider this well (italics added):

Transforming the unjust structures of society must mean addressing not only the global injustices which prevent the poor from accessing development, but also questioning our very aspirations of development towards lifestyles we now find to be unsustainable. At the launch of the Stern Review on 'The Economics of Climate Change' it was rightly commented, 'The impacts are inequitable: poor countries will be hit hardest and earliest, when it is the rich countries responsible for three-quarters of greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere'. Yet, the nettle that nobody will grasp is this - while we believe in justice and a better life for all and support the aspirations of developing nations, there is simply not enough to go around if all earth's citizens want to live at the levels the West considers 'normal'. Statistics vary from country to country, but if everyone wanted to live at the levels of the average UK citizen, we would need more than three planet earths to support the world's current population. Justice must look not only at increasing access for the majority, but at drastically reducing the living standards of the wealthy western minority.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Come O Thou Traveler Unknown"

I recently had the opportunity to preach on the story of Jacob wrestling God in Genesis 32, and I knew early on that I wanted this great Charles Wesley hymn to be a part of that Sunday service. The entire hymn is something like 16 verses, but we contented ourselves with the four in the United Methodist Hymnal. I think this is lovely, and I know that it's not very widely known today, so here it is--enjoy.

"Come O Thou Traveler Unknown"

Come, O thou Traveler unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

I need not tell Thee who I am,
My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name,
Look on Thy hands, and read it there;
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.

Yield to me now, for I am weak,
but confident in self despair!
Speak to my heart, in blessing speak,
be conquered by my instant prayer.
Speak, or thou never hence shalt move,
and tell me if thy name is Love.

'Tis Love! 'tis Love! Thou diedst for me!
I hear Thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure, universal love Thou art;
To me, to all, Thy bowels move;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.