Operation Noah, not Operation Ragnarok
Westley Ingram connects his recent action against fossil fuel sponsorship to Operation Noah’s disinvestment campaign.
On a recent Sunday when I might have been on my way to a Church service I instead played dress up with the very excellent Reclaim Shakespeare Company as we staged a performance in opposition to BP’s sponsorship of the British Museum’s Vikings Live exhibition. Some of you may feel that the British Museum is a temple to plunder and so it is entirely appropriate that BP (one of the worlds greatest environmental criminals and whose business model is incompatible with life on earth as we know it) should have its name attached. Nevertheless the British Museum is a much loved and respected institution and by sponsoring the museum to the tune of some small fraction of one percent of it’s total funding BP can appropriate some of this esteem and hope to distract from it’s core activities.
It must be hard to reckon on the value of a picture of the British Museum coming up after Googling British Petroleum rather than the Gulf of Mexico’s oil black sea birds or the remains of the Arctic or the raping and pillaging of Alberta for Tarsands. Whatever the value of it, BP pays £10 Million from it’s annual profits counted in the Billions.
The performance itself told a story of Ragnarok, the Norse tale of the end of the world where violence and corruption lead to the rising of the waters so the land is no more. Three BP branded Vikings pillage where they want for oily plunder. The Norse god Loki, the god of deceit, offers to cast a spell of greenwash over the public and to marry their brand with the great palaces of culture of this country. Pillaging ensues until other Norse gods intervene: rebuking Loki and warning of the coming Ragnarok. Loki relents and lifts his greenwash spell allowing the onlooking mortals to expel the Vikings of BP.
All very appropriate as we also face the rising of the waters as the result of violence and corruption. Also relevant as the CEL has such close links to Operation Noah. Operation Noah harks back to another ancient tale of rising waters being the result of the ills of mankind. One of the main differences between the story of Ragnarok and Noah’s Ark is that one tells of the future end of history where the other tells of a long past new beginning.
Noah learns that the problems of humanity were not solved in the flood. Humanity’s willingness to spill blood will be a fact of life but he is told that every act of violence, every drop of spilt blood will be accounted for. This speaks to the position we the Church find ourselves in. Climate change and rising sea levels are not the fulfilment of God’s plan on Earth as some erroneously report. Rather, the fulfilment of God’s revelation we consider to be the person of Jesus Christ and most graphically his death on a Cross. The followers of Jesus Christ are expected to follow the example of a man who taught that you cannot serve both money and God, that in order to lay peaceful hands upon the new life he spoke of we first must give up our old life. His response to our apres-deluvian predicament was to non-violently resist the manifestations of this destructive impulse and was executed for it. If it was inevitable that blood would be spilled then it would be his.
We all face a very difficult future as climate change continues to worsen. Those of us committed to the way of the Cross will have to learn how to resist the principalities and powers of the world as Jesus taught us. Presently one of our greatest concerns is the business model of fossil fuel companies like BP and their apparent legitimacy. I personally would prefer to do this as part of a Church that had disinvested from these companies. The Church is not only implicated in the blood spilt by these companies but it whitewashes them with its investment no less than the British museum greenwashes BP’s besmirched public image.
Want to do something?
Watch a 3-minute video of the Reclaim Shakespeare Company performance and sign the petition asking the British Museum to end their sponsorship deal with BP here.
Sign a petition asking the your church to disinvest from fossil fuels:
to the Church of England here
to the Methodist Church here
to the Church of Scotland here
to the Church of Wales here