Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It ain't easy being green

I wrote the cover story for the October issue of The Current, the news magazine for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was a great honor to be able to share the message of creation care to such a large audience of people of faith. You can read the article online here.

I've had some great conversations since the article was published, and I'm sure I have many yet to come. But the conversations so far fit into one of three categories: "I'm good", "thank you!", or "you're crazy". 

Lots of people think they already do enough for the Earth. Recycling is usually the thing people reference as their main conservation activity. And recycling is GREAT, but I'd argue that it's a starting point, not the finish line. Others in the "I'm good" category think that creation care simply doesn't apply to them--they're too old, too young, too poor, too rural, not good at that kind of thing, etc. To that I'd say that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Start small, start with something that matters to you, and go from there.

Then there are those that think I'm absolutely crazy, part of the "left-wing liberal agenda". They argue that humans couldn't possibly affect the big wide world we live in, or that God would never allow the Earth to be destroyed, or that government regulation is the real enemy here. I understand the disbelief, but I don't agree. But even if we don't agree on the mechanics of what is causing our climate to change, I think we can find middle ground here: we can take better care of God's creation without placing blame or living in guilt. Psalms 24:1 gives us a good starting point (using KJV today, feeling fancy): The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. The Earth is God's, we are God's, we all belong to each other. We should care for one another and our Earth as God cares for us. The end.

Most people I've spoken to have thanked me for my article and for my work with Faith in Place. But it's a guarded thanks--its the acknowledgement of the message with the fear of accountability. I promise you this--if you and I talk about creation care, I will follow up with you to see if I can be of service to you or your congregation, but I'm not keeping score. I'm not judging you. I'm not perfect at creation care, either. I'm simply a resource gatherer and message deliverer.

It ain't easy being green. So start small, with something that matters to your congregation or your community. Not everyone can start a community garden, but many of us could do a water audit and retrofit. Solar panels are awesome, but they aren't suitable for every building. Maybe you could look at better lighting options (LED's, CFLs) instead. Divestment from fossil fuels is a strong political statement, but it's not for everyone for a variety of reasons. 

There have been a number of issues in recent decades that have challenged the thinking of people of faith. When confronted with information that stretches you, where do you fall on the conversation spectrum? Are you all good? Do you think the new information is too "out there" to spend any time thinking about? Or are you thankful that the message is being discussed? 

2 comments:

  1. Any ideas for technology? How can we be more "green" with our technology purchases, usage and disposal?

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  2. Excellent question. This article (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/2011-06-22-green-tech-recycling_n.htm) has a lot of helpful information. It's from 2011 but contains relevant info.

    Many electronics manufacturers and retailers have recycling programs, so you'd have to check in your area to see what's available. Todd had to do this recently to properly dispose of some old TVs from church, and because we're in such a rural location our options were more limited than someone living in a city or suburb. Thankfully, manufacturers are finally starting to get the message about using more ethical or less toxic materials, or at the very least providing safe ways to dispose of their products.

    There are lots of exciting new technologies that will help consumers use less energy and tread more softly on the environment (http://www.livescience.com/49301-green-tech-predictions-2015.html).
    There are

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