31 March 2013

What Would Jesus Do About Climate Change?

Hey, Happy Easter. I know it's a Christian holy day, but it's so wrapped up in the rites of spring (here in the northern hemisphere, that is) that it feels like a holiday for everyone.

The day got me thinking about what Jesus would say and do about this climate mess we've got ourselves into. I'm no religious scholar, though when I was little, Jesus was one of my best friends (the whole point of superlatives goes over the heads of children). That has to count for something. I knew he was a cool dude, and I could tell, even as a young child, that his message was a special one. Plus, my husband has read the Bible numerous times and written a(n unpublished) book about it. So that has to count for something, too.

And so, with the spring-like weather buoying my spirits after a long, dark winter, here are some thoughts on Jesus as eco-hero.

First, Jesus wouldn't have allowed climate change to happen in the first place. He valued and loved the natural world and the children of all species too highly. His doctrine, in a word, was compassion.

And then there's the humility thing. Jesus was a humble person. And he encouraged people to trust in the abundance of the Earth, rather than working, working, working to acquire, and then hoard, material wealth. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matthew 6: 28-29). So much of the "development" that has driven us over the brink in terms of greenhouse gas pollution has been for the sake of conspicuous consumption and status-seeking. 

Jesus believed in an economy of sharing and giving. If we had the habit of distributing wealth fairly, instead of lusting after as much "mammon" as we can get and storing it away, we wouldn't need to be stealing from the future. And don't forget, in an economy of sharing and giving, there's a lot of receiving going on, too! But not among takers.

You know, I'm realizing that our economic engine is driven by greed and fear and anxiety, which are in turn driven by our economic engine (through advertising and PR). And they all come from not believing in a compassionate, abundant universe. Isn't that interesting. 

It's as if the people "driving" the economy are blind to the promises of springtime. So, with compassion in our hearts, how can we share the gifts of spring with those who are not used to sharing? 

Let me leave you with the first verse of a poem called Springtime Jesus, by Joy Cowley.


You, Springtime Jesus,
just as I’d settled down for winter,
you broke into my heart
and danced your love right across it
in a mad excess of giving.
Just as I’d got comfortable
with bare branches and unfeeling,
just as my world was neatly black and white,
there you were,
kicking up flowers
all over the place.
— Joy Cowley

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?