Saturday, December 29, 2007

Break

I will be taking a short break from posting or replying to comments for the next couple of weeks. When I return, I will continue my series on Jesus and climate change as well as having a number of other ideas to pursue (of course, I am also always open to suggestions or feedback).

May your new year be filled with grace and peace.
Fifteen points for naming the Sydney building. Twenty for the the person who has left the most recent relevant comment on any post when I return.

21 comments:

Jonathan said...

It's not taken from inside the Opera House, is it? Enjoy your break!

Gordon Cheng said...

I assume you are right on climate change.

If in thirty years time it turns out that you are wrong, no-one will care. That is one of the joys of being cutting-edge.

However, it would be interesting to hear you articulate what remains of your Christianity if, as I suspect, the whole climate change bandwagon turns out to be a scam.

Praying God's blessings for you for the New Year—Grace, Hope and Peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gordon

byron smith said...

Jonathan - fifteen points. Impressive.

Twenty to meredith for this comment, which was the most recent (and very relevant) when I returned.

Gordon - I must say your comment puzzles me. Could you explain what you mean by your third paragraph?

byron smith said...

Meredith, I just noticed that your points not only double your score, but move from equal with Erro to equal with Annette. You keep good company!

meredith said...

Thanks Byron - i'm glad you know how many points i have because I have no idea! Hope you and jess had a good break - if you want to borrow the Greer book just give us a yell (though I'm not finished it yet!) Looking forward to your posts on Calvino - but no pressure, hey :-)

Rory Shiner said...

Hi Byron,
Did Gordon get back to you? I was also curious to work out what he meant and so came back here to see if there had been any further interaction/comment.

byron smith said...

Rory - he has not responded yet. I was a little surprised no one asked him what he meant while I was away.

byron smith said...

I was also puzzled at how to put together these two statements:
I assume you are right on climate change.
...if, as I suspect, the whole climate change bandwagon turns out to be a scam.

Rory Shiner said...

For what it's worth my theory is that "I assume you are right on climate change" = "I assume that, if human-caused climate change is true, your theological response is the right one"

Then the third paragraph would mean "If, as I (Gordon) suspect, it is not true, then what becomes of all this theology?"

The other difficulty is relating paragraph two to paragraph four: paragraph two sounds a little sarcastic, but paragraph four sounds sincere. The dilemma is which to read in the light of the other?

It is quite a little exegetical knot Gordon has created!

"Author, author, wherefore art thou, author?"

Gordon Cheng said...

Gordon - I must say your comment puzzles me. Could you explain what you mean by your third paragraph?

I been on holidays too. Hope you enjoyed your break.

Exegetical knots, Rory, hmm... OK, neither paragraph was sarcastic, and the last paragraph over-rides all, much like a dumper at Austinmer Beach might engulf all three daughters, were I to allow them (in my sovereignty) to experience such a thing.

Let's have another go then. I assess people (self included, and noting 1 Cor 4:3 as the overriding dumper of God's judgmental grace) by where they put their time, life, energy, and assets.

So,

If someone were to assess my life, I would be disappointed if they discovered me to have put my time, life, energy, and assets not into the preaching of the gospel of the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus but into the backyard, Permaculture North (a bodacious and militant organization to which my wife belongs), and the 506 bus.

Suppose someone were to put a large amount of energy into climate change and Jesus, as Byron has, and subsequently discover themselves to be wrong.

some 30 years later when everyone had forgotten about the cause in much the same way as everyone has forgotten about Paul Ehrlich and discovered that Rachel Carson's case could well have been, in hindsight, a little more...nuanced

We then return to the original question I asked, hopefully not now buried under a morass of subsequent verbiage by me.

What remains of your Christianity?

(And, may I also say, hopefully quite a bit.)

Gordon Cheng said...

I was also puzzled at how to put together these two statements:
I assume you are right on climate change.
...if, as I suspect, the whole climate change bandwagon turns out to be a scam.


They are puttable-together if you live one way but suspect another way may turn out to be right.

So "I assume A" means "I live as though A is true"

AND

"I suspect B, which somewhat undermines A, may in fact be true, but for various reasons I choose to ignore B in my daily living."

are statements which may be held together with some discomfort, but without inherent contradiction.

An example of how this might work out in another part of life:

Let us supposes I suspect my daughters may well be educationally advantaged by attending School A.

Nevertheless, for various reasons which we need not enter into here, I have enrolled them in School B.

This is an uncomfortable situation to find myself in, but need not in and of itself lack intellectual or moral integrity.

Nuance, thy name is Cheng! ;-)

Gordon Cheng said...

Suppose someone were to put a large amount of energy into climate change and Jesus, as Byron has, and subsequently discover themselves to be wrong.

Oops, I meant on climate change, not Jesus. As I hope is obvious. I think.

(Assuming here that climate change and Jesus are not the same or inextricably linked, and may I also add that word verification gives me the pip).

Dave Lankshear said...

Gordo,
you spank people where they don't need spanking!

You almost sound like you're implying Byron's neglecting his Christian ministry for having a hobby blogging on our Christian stewardship of God's creation, which I actually see as a real evangelistic strategy in an era of environmental concern. Your approach is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Given the increasingly green culture in which we live, Byron's just trying to do some good old fashioned missiology.

I sincerely don't know what you are doing.

I really, really hope your sermons on DSA (Deadly Sports Addiction) are as harsh and as REGULAR as your anti-greenie posts and blogging are.

I know Christian men that have a go at my reading Tim Flannery or being involved in online Greenie research, and then DOUBLE that time-commitment in their pursuit of watching silly men in tight shorts chase a bit of pig skin around some grass. Or worse, they'll go and spend DAYS watching men in white stand on some grass, and occasionally one man in white will run at another man in white and throw something, and then a few other men will take some steps, and then everything's still again. This seems to me like a terrible waste of time.

Where is your last blog comment or Sydney Anglican forum comment warning against the DSA and whole weekends wasted because some silly Christian husband stayed up all night to watch an overseas match? How godly were they to their families the next day? How much time did they spend with their kids?

I'm afraid that if you've missed the DSA (Deadly Sports Addiction) all this anti-Greenie stuff you keep warning your Christian brothers and sisters against is just going to sound like so much prejudice.

I mean, after 30 years of chasing pig skins, will they suddenly turn around and realize that's 25 souls they could have saved??

Gordo, in all seriousness, you sound like you're saying it is just plain wrong to be interested in the claims of modern science regarding our environment. You seem as passionate and involved in debunking Christian involvement in Greenie stuff as some of us Greenie Christians are involved in being involved. ;-) That's just naughty.

Dave Lankshear said...

Dave here again: in "Trying to understand Gordo Part 2."

Over on CraigS blog you wrote:

I don't see why Christians shouldn't grab opportunity, as opportunity allows, to influence government and public opinion. We applaud William Wilberforce for mounting a moral campaign against slavery. Why not applaud someone who mounts a moral campaign highlighting (say) the danger of pornography for both producer and consumer?

So obviously campaigning for some social stuff has a place in the Christian life? Excellent.

At this stage I can only understand your passion against Byron's reflections on Global Warming are that you're simply not convinced by the science yet, and appear worried by the possibility that it's a distraction.

OK, let's assume that in 30 years we find out that 99.99% of climatologists actually had it wrong, and it was a natural process, and it reverted back to "normal" whatever that means. Right now there are 3 possibilities.

1/ Engage what the scientists are claiming, and come up with a Christian response to what they are saying as if their claims were true. This also seems to have a place in good missiology, and attempts to engage the surrounding culture with the relevance of Christian stewardship and gospel hope.
2/ Ignore it all, and get on with the gospel anyway... risking having little to say when asked about the environment, but hey? At least no one's unnecessarily offended.
3/ Portray an attitude of extreme scepticism and risk alienating the Greenie culture around you, especially Greenie Christians you can't resist having a go at.

Which category do you fit in Gordo? Because there's always scenario 4.

4/ Portray an attitude of extreme scepticism and alienate Greenie Christians and non-Christians, and then have a major case of egg-on-the-face when it's all overwhelmingly true in 5 to 10 years.

Gordon Cheng said...

Dave: No spank, therefore no response needed.

Gordon Cheng said...

PS Dave, anyway, I'm not talking to you. Back to Dead Horses on the SA forum with you my friend. Giddyup! ;-)

Alls I was doing was making a suggestion for something Byron might, or might not, want to cover in the new year. I'm just the grit in the oyster, Byron is going to give us the pearl.

Dave Lankshear said...

Can I suggest it might not be grit that leads to a pearl but an oyster infection that leads to something uglier?

It's all in the manner of the question Gordon. What do you mean by asking Byron what remains of his Christianity? Your "clarification" still needs clarifying.

What remains of your Christianity?

(And, may I also say, hopefully quite a bit.)


Are you asking him what remains of his doctrine, what remains of his efforts over 30 years, what remains of his own faith, what?

As for myself, I'm very hopeful that the oil thing will not be as bad as I originally thought back in 2004/2005. Many things have changed. I took the appropriate action at the time with the information I had, acted like a good citizen out of concern for other citizens of this land, and did my best — which is all any Christian can do. Does that mean my efforts were wasted? Absolutely! As I understand it — and master of false eschatology's Byron Smith may want to correct me here — NOTHING of our work but another individual's acceptance of our gospel message survives the eschaton.

Yet in my small way, in my small corner of the world, I helped nudge peak oil awareness forward a bit and get people thinking about the potential problems we may be facing. Now that even President Bush and General Motors seem to be admitting peak oil we might have a fighting chance, and I can relax a little on the oil thing. I helped by briefing various Members of the Legislative Council and of course the indefatigable Maxine McKew. I at least nudged, rather than denying.

Or let's pick another example: do we see heaps of campaigners against slavery today? What remains of William Wilberforce's Christianity?

byron smith said...

Gordon: I had a lovely break, thanks!

I don't consider my concern for neighbour and God's good world to be anything other than faithfulness to the crucified and risen Lord. Our obligations extend beyond preaching, to a whole life and community transformed in light of God's grace in Christ and his coming future. Thus, far from being a distraction, I see my brief, stumbling attempts to help my brothers and sisters live in obedience and trust in a climate of fear, doom and denial as a way of serving the one whose world it is.

Do you see the time and effort you seem to put into these debates as a way serving God and his people too?

Gordon Cheng said...

Hi byron,

I can see that is what you believe yourself to be doing, and I don't question the genuineness or the integrity of your attempt, and I thank you for those things.

But are you then saying that if it turns out that if anthropogenically induced climate change turns out *not* to be as serious as first thought, or even turns out to be a furphy, the basic shape of your Christianity would remain unchanged? (I am very open to the answer 'yes', BTW).

As to your question, I'm not sure if I am self-analytical enough to reflect on why I contribute to debates, whether this or others. It's probably a bit more than a hobby but a bit less than a cause. If I thought that by spending time debating I was sinning, I would stop immediately, I hope. So my reasons are multifarious but hopefully not nefarious.

On the question of climate change specifically, I think it's fair enough to change daily patterns of living in the assumption that something dodgy is going on with world climate patterns—Reduce Reuse Recycle, buy local where possible, minimize fossil fuel consumption, but I am by no means convinced that Christians outside of politics or the climate sciences are morally obliged to do much more than that. And I'm always inquisitive when I see Christians who've taken a different approach from me, be they skeptic (which I'm not) or convert to the climate change cause (which I'm clearly not).

Dave Lankshear said...

But are you then saying that if it turns out that if anthropogenically induced climate change turns out *not* to be as serious as first thought, or even turns out to be a furphy, the basic shape of your Christianity would remain unchanged? (I am very open to the answer 'yes', BTW).

I guess my mistake above was to even reply to the hypothetical assumed in your writing. The scientists are now telling us that Global warming is killing some 200 thousand people a year and affecting the health of quite a few million.

byron smith said...

But are you then saying that if it turns out that if anthropogenically induced climate change turns out *not* to be as serious as first thought, or even turns out to be a furphy, the basic shape of your Christianity would remain unchanged?
Yes.

BTW, I don't think climate change is the #1 moral issue of our time, that remains whether we will follow Christ or anti-Christ, seek life or death, serve neighbour or self, worship God or the devil. I don't even think it is the greatest environmental problem faced by humanity, which is idolatry. Not so much idolatry of the created environment in Gaia-worship (though there are a small minority for whom this is an issue), but plain old Mammon. The Christian response to environmental degradation is not to buy a hybrid, but to repent of consumerism, the desire for comfort at the expense of others, the belief that the world is there as my supermarket and garbage bin. And then to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (and possibly to eat fruit in keeping with repentance too, but that is for another post).