Christian Climate Action: Time to Act – Review
Christian Climate Action: Time to Act: A Resource Book by the Christians in Extinction Rebellion, edited by Jeremy Williams, February 2020. SPCK, ISBN 978-0-281-08446-3, 314 pages. RRP £9.99
This is perhaps one of the most challenging books that I have read recently. Time to Act is “A resource book by the Christians in Extinction Rebellion (XR)” and it takes its readers into the uncomfortable area of non-violent direct action (NVDA). Indeed, its approach to climate activism has parallels with the struggle for women’s suffrage in the early twentieth century; prayer and mere protest are considered insufficient to bring about the individual and collective action required to rescue a threatened planet from the destructive power of human activities. The reader should be prepared for passionate and uncompromising language from Christians who care deeply for the Earth. They see before humankind a road leading inexorably towards the extinction of life as we know it. This is indeed the time to act, and to do more than ruffle a few feathers.
The editor, Jeremy Williams, has based this collection on the “Faith Bridge” XR meeting held on Lambeth Bridge in London, in October 2019 when Tearfund joined with CAFOD, Christian Aid, Christian Climate Action and many others to declare a commitment to care for God’s creation. Williams divides his thoughts into Head, Heart and Hands. It is vital that we understand not only the historical roots of Christian action, in the light of our calling to be responsible stewards of God’s Creation, but also the options open to us to change human behaviour before it is too late. The sustaining energy must come from an inner commitment and an acceptance of consequences, however these may affect our lives. Case studies of personal sacrifice are provided, not least that of singer-songwriter Samantha Lindo in her chapter “In court – right where I‘m supposed to be” in which her words to the judge are reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Portia in The Merchant of Venice.
Back in the 1980s I was invited to contribute to a small booklet being produced by a Christian group in Fife, Scotland. My brief was to outline the key scientific issues in climate change and to identify where Creation was at its most vulnerable. When I received my copy of the booklet I was surprised to see that my chapter was the only contribution containing any science, the remainder being what could be called affairs of the heart, expressed in creatively artistic form. The publication has long been lost from my bookshelves but has come to life again in Time to Act. While the facts are generated by science, the required remedial action is driven by the creative energy of our inner selves. There are few scientific facts in this “resource book” but it includes suggestions for prayer and worship, and quoting Rowan Williams’ endorsement, it is “highly motivating”. Yes, protestors and campaigners may at times be irritating, but don’t let this keep you from opening Time to Act; you may well find yourself wishing to join them.
Rev Dr S John Harrison
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Comments on "Christian Climate Action: Time to Act – Review"
Radical action is needed but can I suggest a simple starting point I.e. addressing obscene levels of food waste in the world; that shouldn't raise too many objections and makes sense regardless of dietary preferences and political views. Why tear up your own tenners for example? The IMechE's Waste Not Want report reckoned at least 30 percent of global food production never reaches shops or markets, factory farming is unforgivable, European fishing throwback until recently was appalling (and took HF-W to help stop - where were politicians?) but killing then wasting unprofitable livestock and edible pest / culled species are absurd too. Who thought Myxomatosis and then RHD / RVHD were sane in the UK. There is a sting in the tail though. More food in rich countries won't help the world's poor while plentiful food supplies can punish suppliers as prices crash - demand for food energy is price inelastic. So inequality and idiotic economic policies which can't cope with gluts need major overhauls.