Connecting with Culture
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You probably don’t need me to tell you that it’s been quite hot recently.
Whilst climate change can sometimes be displaced in the UK media, this past week has provided a stark reminder that the grim reality remains unchanged.
Devastating impacts are already being experienced by 100s of millions of people. In the West, alongside changing weather, we hear of ‘eco-anxiety’. Our responses can fall somewhere between denial of individual responsibility, despair of having any impact, or frenetic and divisive activism.
None of these are biblical. Love for our global neighbour comes with very real choices for Western lifestyles, as poor communities bear the consequences of industrialised countries over-stepping sustainable limits. Whilst major steps are needed from governments and big corporates, the case for individual action is strong, not least because it helps build momentum for others to act.
If others look at Christians and fail to see real changes then we risk giving grounds for questioning the impact of our faith. Instead, our generation has the potential to be powerfully counter-cultural in considering how we can flourish through living in a way that consumes fewer resources; and, through doing so, provide a vehicle for the Christian message of hope.
Climate change confronts us with the inescapable truth that life is fragile. Under the threat of nuclear war, C.S Lewis wrote that each generation must re-learn the constancy of faith for their context. For us, that means recalling the Lord’s sovereignty, whatever changes befall the natural world (recalling powerful imagery throughout Isaiah and the Psalms).
Amidst this fragility, as generations have before us, we hold the candle of hope for the realisation of a new heaven and earth, where relationships exist in a balance, including with creation. For now, our calling is to act in hope, in accordance with this vision, in a way that signposts this future. Even that we will do imperfectly.
This vision is what draws us to reduce our individual resource footprint and campaign for change. It also prompts us to seek approaches that can help build relationships, and shift our mindset from fearing scarcity to seeking to help everyone thrive within what we do have. Supporting community-based ‘libraries of things’, repair cafes, or focusing children’s activities on nature above plastic commodities are potential examples. Joy in Enough has others.
Without hope, we have little to counter climate doomism, yet without substantive action, claims of compassion and hope lack resonance. In weeks with scorching weather as much as ever, our task is to carry the flame of both.
Catherine is the author of the blog Grain of Sand, and works on international affairs in the civil service. All views expressed are her own.