Friday, October 16, 2009

Sick of being green? Christians and ecology

Why does the Church of England recycle its sermons? Having just quoted Archbishop Williams in my previous post, this article argues that the Church of England has jumped on the ecology bandwagon for lack of anything else to get excited about. Ecological sins are an easy preach and green tips are a simple application.

There is indeed such a thing as saying too much about a particular ethical issue, whether it be sexual or ecological. There is, of course, also such a thing as saying too little. A church that never mentioned ecology would be as deficient in its discipleship as one that never mentioned sex or money. As I read the article, my first thought was that few Sydney churches that I know of could be accused of talking too much green!

Our church here in Edinburgh has an eco-group as one of its many (forty-one at last count) special interest ministries. So you can pick between improving the music, supporting AIDS orphans in Africa, helping to walk beside locals struggling with debt or saving the planet one lightbulb at a time.

Now the ecclesial body has many members, each of which has its own function and not everyone can be involved in every cause or need. So I am not against churches having specialist groups. My question is this: what is it about a church eco-group that is specifically Christian? Presumably, like a sub-committee of various corporations, such a group will be counting carbon and cutting footprints, trying to encourage the larger group to change behaviours and modify assumptions. But what difference does the good news of Jesus make? How do specifically Christian responses to ecological destruction differ from mainstream secular ones? Merely in motivation? In putting the cause into a larger context? In placing ultimate trust in God as we act? Yes, all of these, but are there other differences?
Don't worry, I will be returning to my series in which I am outlining my thesis question. These three little posts are a brief interlude. Normal transmission will resume shortly.