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01.10.2021

No Clean Lips with Dirty Hands

I’m genuinely baffled; when did we lose our God-given instinct to protect our young?

I agree with Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being – animals weren’t expelled from the garden, they haven’t lost their ‘eden-ness’. Hang around any seagull colony in breeding season – birds bomb and screech, the parents and community protect the next generation.

But not us, despite the brooding storm that’s been gathering for over 50 years. We are obsessed with daily danger yet fail to consider the future that’s coming home to roost for our young. The latest IPCC report comes with a health warning: read before bed and expect nightmares; fail to make deep and painful change and the nightmares come true.

Look out the window, pay attention to the groans of the garden.

We’re entrusted to take care of the land that feeds and holds us, to which we all return. Yet we find ourselves ‘guilty as hell’. Four billion years of life on earth, yet in the past 100 we’ve pushed it to the brink. The way we’re behaving, our depleted soils have less than 60 harvests left, and we’ve successfully wiped out over 90% of the large fish. We foul our air and soil our home. We’ve lost our way, we’ve lost our love for the gift-giver, keeping our lips tightly sealed over burning fossil fuels, deforestation, land grabbing, injustice.

No clean lips with dirty hands (Psalm 24:3–4): no false repentance on our lips when we have ecocide on our hands.

COP26 – the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference – is our last chance to avoid runaway climate breakdown. These leaders aren’t the first to hear the truth about the climate (it’s been known about since the late 1800s) but they’re the last to be able to bring about the deep change needed to head off the worst impacts of environmental collapse.

We had a crucial job: to take care of the garden. And therein lies the problem – it seems we didn’t and don’t care enough to stop treating the earth as ‘a huge warehouse of stuff’.

For the love of God and the next generations, will we rise up and remind ourselves who we are, and what we need to do? Engage, rage, and pray. Speak up, stand out, and get God’s house – the church – in order. We must call out governments, and place enormous collective pressure.

‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’ But sadly, we do. We have no defense. Lord have mercy.

 

Rachie Ross
Rachie is a personal development coach working with excluded and challenged young people, an active member of Christian Climate Action, and a theologian serving on the board of Operation Noah.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Rachie. Passionate, focused, caring and honest… this is a very thought-provoking appeal to the many of us who care, but not yet enough. May God bless further your passion, focus, care and honesty.

    By Jeremy Clare  -  1 Oct 2021
  2. I appreciate what Rachie has written in her article but my initial reaction was one of ‘don’t shout at me, I don’t listen well/at all when someone is shouting at me’. I’ve often been guilty of shouting, when angry or upset, but I’ve generally found that this behaviour just fuels the fire but doesn’t necessarily resolve the issue at hand. As a mother to 3 young people, growing up into a world that is full of many tough challenges for their futures, I am trying my best to not add to the negative climate change and challenges. Since my childhood, growing up in a Christian home where I was taught that I’m a steward of God’s creation, I’ve sought to put that understanding into wise living and choices. I can still do a lot more. But maybe of greater concern is that, especially in our ‘western’ societies, there is this growing rejection of God as the Creator of this beautiful world, where people are just busy ‘doing what is right in their own eyes’, not thinking at all of the consequences for their souls or the lives of others. As Christians we are all called to live in a way that brings glory to God, caring for His world and bringing His Love and Hope to the people who do not yet know Him. Only then may we possibly see this world living and thriving in a way as God our Creator Father intended it to be. Let’s join in a reasonable conversation, engaging and working together, in a way that pleases God our Father and brings honour and dignity to each other.

    By Meg  -  1 Oct 2021
  3. As a Grandad, I want to be able to influence my grandchildren!

    By Tony Milway  -  1 Oct 2021
  4. Thanks Rachie, hear your passion. I produce short poetry for radio & social media, including much on environment & justice issues. Responding to a George Monbiot article this week:

    We’re catastrophic-ally loath
    To count the cost of endless growth
    The rich world’s economic feast
    A greedy nature-munching beast
    That ravages not part but whole
    A planet-spanning Whac-A-Mole
    In short to slash the planet’s stress
    The only way, says George, is less.

    And to a Ruth Valerio Tearfund piece:

    What if we held Earth as home
    Not just the things that we own
    What if we held up the poor
    Not let them sink to the floor
    What if we chose to pursue
    Justice as daring & new
    What if each ounce of our being
    Fought for a world still worth seeing?

    Keep raging

    By Bruce Gulland  -  1 Oct 2021
  5. Whilst I might agree with the sentiment expressed the use of animals and their behaviour is not a good one. Many many animals will kill the offspring of others so that their offspring will survive. Not a good analogy at all. Are we saying that animals behaved in Eden as they do in our world today. I hope not as one day the lion will sit next to the lamb in God’s kingdom on this earth. It is only the message of the gospel that will truly transform lives.

    By John Bailey  -  1 Oct 2021
  6. A concise, hard-hitting summary of a massive issue, Rachie. While climate change conferences and global scientific reports are vital (and, yes, horribly overdue), the average you and me can feel distanced and disconnected from them. But as I face up to climate change’s impact on something, or someone, that really matters to me, I can start to experience those heartfelt connections to the issue that are the seeds of action, and even of personal transformation.

    As you imply, what matters most to some will be our destruction of our natural environment; for others, it will be the dangers climate change poses to future generations. For many reading this, it can be simply our desire to love God and our neighbours, many of whom are the poorest and most vulnerable to the worst impacts of climate change. If this doesn’t motivate us, we really need to ask ourselves, and God, why.

    By Nick Tatchell  -  1 Oct 2021
    • Thanks for your comment Nick, and also to Rachie for this article. I agree that what we need is a heart-level transformation, which connects us to the issue and motivates a change in our actions. For me, it’s the way that the climate emergency disproportionately affects the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, meaning that tackling it is actually a matter of justice for our neighbour as much as anything.

      As for the article, it’s a startling but necessary call to remind ourselves of the severity of the situation we find ourselves, not so much saying that our daily actions won’t make a difference, but an encouragement that we need this and also so much more.

      Matt Jolley
      By Matt Jolley Culture & Discipleship – Research & Development, LICC
  7. Thank you all for engaging with my article; the angle I took was to spin the issues in a different light to try and get traction maybe in a different way. There is room for all views of course, I’m glad to have stimulated some debate! One of my favourite lines I use a lot is ‘you can’t wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep’, thank you for being awake to the climate crisis, even if you may not have expressed it as I did x

    By Rachie  -  1 Oct 2021
  8. Thanks for your insightful piece, Rachie. Really good.
    Here is Alexander von Humboldt after visiting Lake Valencia in Venezuela he wrote, “When forests are destroyed, as they are everywhere in America by the European planters, with an imprudent precipitation, the springs are entirely dried up, or become less abundant. The beds of the rivers, remaining dry during a part of the year, are converted into torrents, whenever great rain falls on the heights.”. He saw it coming in the year 1800. See “The Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf.

    By Chris Robertson  -  3 Oct 2021

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