Thursday, November 22, 2007

Two pet peeves

Two denials that make me sad:

(1) When people in positions of responsibility and influence (or potentially so) stick their head in the sand over the existence and significance (economic, environmental, social) of climate change.

(2) When Christians unnecessarily turn their disagreements (especially political) into exercises in excommunication.
Unfortunately, Dave Lankshear records a public instance of both in one open letter from Ewan McDonald, CDP Senate candidate from Victoria.
Dear Gordon, I would like to respectfully disagree with your correspondents Ron and Christine Lankshear whose letter criticising the CDP climate-change policy appeared in the feedback section of November 15 CVIP. They mention that their son, a Greens supporter, was dismissive of the CDP environment policy that questions the prevailing paradigm of anthropogenic global warming. Even if one believes the claims of the cult-like prophets of doom about the causes and effects of global-warming, there is no way any Christian should prefer the overtly anti-Christian and pro-death policies of the Greens over the pro-life and pro-Christian policies of the CDP. I am assuming the Lankshears are a Christian family so it distresses me to think that their son could have adopted such pagan views. I fear this is indicative of the wider church and Christian community who have generally failed to pass on their faith to the next generation and our society is suffering because of that. GK Chesterton famously said, "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." Perhaps this is the reason why so many people today have unquestioningly adopted the new Green 'faith' - is it because they have first rejected the Christian faith? Regards, Ewan McDonald
Many Christians I know and respect vote for the CDP (Christian Democratic Party), and I have done so in the past. In particular, I respect their efforts to call attention to the human cost of the tens of thousands of voluntary abortions performed every year in Australia. However, this letter doesn't make them very attractive and I am not a fan of many of their policies. There is no party with a monopoly on 'Christian' issues, because there is no subset of issues that can be labelled 'Christian' or 'moral', as though Christ were only interested in part of our lives.

The irony is that the two main issues raised in the letter (climate change and abortion, which I presume is what is being referred to by calling the Greens "pro-death") are both about caring for future generations presently unable to speak for themselves.


Anonymous said...

There is no party with a monopoly on 'Christian' issues, because there is no subset of issues that can be labelled 'Christian' or 'moral', as though Christ were only interested in part of our lives.

The irony is that the two main issues raised in the letter (climate change and abortion, which I presume is what is being referred to by calling the Greens "pro-death") are both about caring for future generations presently unable to speak for themselves.

So true Byron, and so well put.

Ron said...

Thanks Byron
I just posted this at Neil's place.
I was sad about the pagan statements. And I am not a Greens Party fan - far from it. As I posted on your "I am Voting" I think they have an agenda to take scripture classes out of schools etc. And I think Fred Nile and Gordon Moyes and the CDP have been very important in protecting such Christian value issues. And Gordon has been supportive of many Climate Change moves see

Donna said...

I was very disapointed with the CDP's position on climate change when I read it a few weeks ago on They seem to be climate change sceptics. This struck me as odd, because (if I remember the start of Genesis correctly) didn't God give humans the job of looking after the earth?

byron smith said...

Ron - thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I have to disagree on a couple of points. On taking Scripture out of schools - see this post which links to their stated policy of not doing so, despite what the CDP have been saying. In any case, Scripture in schools is a state issue and so not particularly relevant to this election.

While Gordon may be broadly supportive (though I notice he simply lists the (relatively few) actions of the Australian government, without engaging with the debate over whether they have been adequate), the official CDP policy is one of 'agnosticism' towards climate change, opposition to ratifying Kyoto and criticism of any carbon trading scheme as unnecessary.

You may also be interested in a longer post I recently wrote on the Sydney Anglicans forum about CDP, the Greens and environmentalism.

Please feel free to come back on any of these points. As I said on the Sydney Anglicans forum, I respect a number of the bold and persistent stances the CDP have taken on some very important issues, although I do not find their policies particularly attractive (nor particularly more 'Christian' than most other parties).

Anonymous said...

As I said over on Neil's blog, I just can't handle the way this guy attacked my parents and how they raised me!? Wow!

And since when did trusting in God and climate science become mutually incompatible?

Donna, too right God did! As Christians we are to work the land and "name nature" whatever that really means...

(Byron, what significance does naming have? It seems even Coyote has a big tradition of naming things. Is there some extra importance in naming nature that might reveal what's on God's heart for our relationship with nature?)

We are also think compassionately about the needs of others. Both working our land and caring for the needs of others have important implications for how we use this world's resources. We should ensure people do not go hungry, or thirsty, or die of easily preventable diseases. We can meet the world's needs with "adequate shelter" (but not McMansion housing.) But what about our kids? What kind of world do they inherit, when there are too many of us using too many resources too quickly? How are they going to do agriculture when the oil and gas run out? These are fundamental and quite alarming concerns about our way of life in the west. I'm optimistic that there might be partial solutions.

But what drives me nuts as a Christian is that this crisis is all going to be so much worse because society has only just begun to acknowledge Global Warming, when actually we face the final oil and gas crisis, depleted ecological services, topsoil erosion and resulting world grain production declining, water scarcity, species loss, rainforest loss, biodiversity collapsing... it just goes on and on. Global Warming is probably the biggest of them all, but... OK, I'm tired and raving now.

Yes... God would have us look after the environment, especially when it's now so serious that 200 thousand people die each year because of climate change (Scientific American) and far more could die from these other crisis as they all accumulate into what some have called "peak everything".

Bruce Yabsley said...

I was saddened to read the news in this post, because it confirmed all of my prejudices about groups like the CDP. And I am liberal enough (in the old-fashioned sense) that I don't like to see my prejudices confirmed.

Grant us abundant harvests; strength and skill to conserve the resources of the earth; and wisdom to use them well. Hear us, good Lord.

Jonathan said...

It seems to me that one of the biggest problems for both the CDP and the Greens is that they are too busy treating each other as the mortal enemy to be honest about each other, let alone listen to any good points the other might have.

byron smith said...

Dave - We need more of your 'raving', not less! And yes, naming is very significant. There are many reasons why thoughtful care for the earth is a key part of what it means to be Christian, and what it means to be human. I hadn't heard about the Coyote myths before, though it sounds like there are more layers there than simply finding a parallel with Genesis 2. As for peak everything, I think I need to read that book Collapse you mention in your post.

Bruce - Amen.

Jonathan - I think you're right. Yet as someone who sympathises with both parties (in different ways and for different reasons), their continued failure to communicate and unwavering suspicion and hatred makes me sad.

Bruce Yabsley said...

I followed the link to the CDP policy page ... and confirmed another bunch of prejudices about parties of this kind.

I am not sure whether I was more disturbed by the anti-greenhouse propaganda boilerplate --- can one get this kind of text made to order on some website somewhere, or do they really come up with all of it themselves? --- or the call for a ten year moratorium on immigration of Muslims to Australia.

Show your pity on prisoners and refugees, and all who are in trouble. Lord, have mercy.

And may God have mercy indeed, since it seems as Christians we should not, in the CDP's view. At least, not if the people involved are Muslim.

Some of the discussion on the SA forum also seemed to echo the trump-card mentality from the CDP's anathema on the Lankshears: the CDP is staunch on abortion, and the Greens are not, so nothing else matters. "Souls over dolphins" I think was one of the comments ... may God have mercy on us all.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that "souls over dolphins" quote really got me all fired up. But as Byron implied above, if Christians care about abortion they should also care passionately about our environment because things are now so bad out there that it's going to come back and bite us. Sustainability is now a matter affecting a Christian's social conscience, or at least would be if they were really informed on the matter.

Lord, have mercy on us all and rescue us from ourselves.

byron smith said...

I thought this wasn't a bad little article, though it does shy away from the difficult question of priorities, leaving it merely to personal preference.