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22.07.2022

Living Out Hope in a Changing Climate

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 Masterman
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.

Comments

  1. Great piece and rallying cry for Christians to lead the way here with hope as our true north and love for neighbour as our guide. I’ll be taking things to the charity shop rather than the dump today because of this.

    By Tim Yearsley  -  22 Jul 2022
  2. Excellent & timely thoughts, thank you

    By Bruce Gulland  -  22 Jul 2022
  3. Thank you for this thought today, never has it been more pressing to rally the church to be the ones the world , the earth, is groaning for, to act in mercy and justice for ALL life. It is BEYOND urgent.

    Just one thing I would like to say though is that to use the term ‘frenetic and divisive activism’ is a shame. I am an active member of Christian Climate Action, a trustee of Operation Noah, a regular voice on the radio for faith and climate; the activists I love are all brave, selfless and full of prophetic understanding. If more of the general population and church actually understood how serious this is, then they also would start to agitate and hold government, fossil fuel giants and church communities to account. As it is, a small percentage of us are awake and we therefore get the burden of shouldering this racist issue and carrying the strain (which is very real) .

    Activism is necessary when we have a government that has put in place a draconian and divisive anti democratic , anti protesting bill ( the policing Bill) which shuts down all avenues for raising the alarm. So please understand that prayer needs action, we have to safeguard our young peoples future. When you know the facts and the science, activism is the right response and the one that follows the narrow path of justice which Jesus leads us on.

    The issue of HOPE is also one I want to challenge. Hope as in ‘believing God is present through the suffering that is coming (and has come for many of our global south siblings)’ , yes I consent to that , BUT not hope if it means optimism. Both optimism and pessimism are wrong and lead to despair and failure. Hope must lead us to chase the future we long to see, the future of fair share for people and planet and a place where love over flows. For that to happen we must act to halt run away capitalism and obsession with self and learn the hard way of LOVE.

    I 100% believe in the Joy in Enough campaign set up by Green Christian. But there in lies the issue; we aren’t happy with enough, we aren’t willing to go without. Greed and silence is why we are here, and lies. Lets start telling the truth and love activists for trying to save the earth and all that lives here, for the love of our God and our neighbour.

    By rachie ross  -  22 Jul 2022
    • Spot on, Rachie. Thank you.
      It calls to mind Jesus’ reply to the man who asked how to ‘inherit eternal life’. The following verses report Jesus saying ‘how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’. I’m thinking WE are the rich… hanging on to our ‘wealth’… and in so doing failing to enter (envision, embody, proclaim, build) the Kingdom.

      By Geoff Stratford  -  24 Jul 2022
      • Love your way of phrasing your reply and the words for entering the kingdom, thank you!

        By Rachie  -  26 Jul 2022
  4. Brilliant! At last a “Connecting with Culture” piece I can relate to! Really inspiring and encouraging.

    By Claire  -  22 Jul 2022
  5. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply and for all the comments. I entirely agree that hope and optimism are completely different. Hope is a something to be strived for and does not rest on human endeavour. It is hope just for the present but also for the future restoration. Whatever the circumstances, “Yet” I will hope/praise/trust/have faith.

    I also entirely agree on the need for much greater awareness and understanding of the breadth and severity of the issues and the importance of campaigning. I was looking for a particular quote that I couldn’t find but Tim Keller puts it much better than I can. He writes about our call to act in response to Gods love in a way that shakes off any complacency but is also at peace with knowing that the future is not in our control.

    I am hoping to go to the Green Christian event in October and very much look forward to conversing further with anyone there.

    By Catherine Masterman  -  26 Jul 2022

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