Peter Owen Jones – The Green Shoots of Sustainability


TV vicar Peter Owen Jones (“How to Live a Simple Life”, “Around the World in 80 Faiths”) is to be the main speaker at a gathering of green Christians in London on 5th March 2011 .

The day-long conference “End of the Age of Thorns”, run by Christian Ecology Link, will address today’s perennial problems in order to find a hope-filled way out of them – our relationship with money, the morality of credit, a credible alternative to consumerism and the throw-away society.

Peter Owen Jones says the idea for “How to Live a Simple Life” came to him in 2008, as he watched the banking system crumble around the world. “It was just after the credit crunch hit,” he says. “I remember thinking, “This is insane. We’re facing this massive meltdown and we’re all being asked to spend money. There’s something unwell here. This desire for wealth is bad.”

“We can all afford to give a great deal more. We’re not attuned to that any longer. We see those without money as failing in terms of the society we’ve created. I don’t want my children growing up to think that. I’m not saying that religion is the only answer, but we’ve asked if money is the only answer and shown that it isn’t.”

Also billed to appear at “The End of the Age of Thorns” are sustainability expert Professor Tim Cooper, who will introduce an alternative philosophy with workshops on “Green Economics”; and campaigners Ashley Ralston and Ruth Jarman, who will run a variety of interactive workshops, on “Shopping as if the Planet Mattered” and “Greening the Church”.

An exciting new initiative for participants to explore is “ecocell”, a programme for a personal journey to zero carbon. The co-ordinator for ecocell, Tony Emerson, will be available at the conference for people to find out more.

Deborah, a CEL Member says, “What I hope to gain from this conference is an understanding of how – when every world religion rejects consumerism, the acquisition of wealth and goods for the mere sake of it – Christians in the West have so often been swept along in its tide, seemingly without much thought. And from an economist I hope to hear an alternative view of economics – is there another way, one which treads lightly on the earth and in which all of creation is honoured and poverty becomes a thing of the past?”

Professor Tim Cooper added, “Christians ought to be distinctive as consumers. Our shopping bags should reflect our values…The church needs to consider why its members so readily succumb to high street temptations despite clear Biblical warnings about materialism. We cannot expect Christians to be immune from the psychological and socio-cultural pressures that lead to excessive consumption.”

Tim Cooper (Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University) has recently edited a new book, “Longer Lasting Products : Alternatives To The Throwaway Society” (Gower Publishing, 2010) which gives clear and compelling guidance as to how we can move away from a throwaway culture towards an economy sustained by more durable goods. He was a co-founder of Christian Ecology Link and is the author of Green Christianity ( Hodder & Stoughton, 1990).


“Christians are not prepared to tolerate economic injustice, and work hard to make the system better. But there is an elephant in the room. We take endless economic growth of the system for granted. And we wonder why we are failing to stem the extinction of fifty species every day, greenhouse gas emissions are out of control, and our children have become pawns of the market. Economic growth has become a cancer on the earth, and an abuse of the image of God in us.” (CEL Chairman, Paul Bodenham )

“Patience is an acquired virtue! Only by looking back do we realise the progress the green movement has made in the past 10 years. So we thank God and keep going.” ( Zoe , CEL Member)

“God did not create a world with infinite resources for humankind to plunder. He created a world with finite resources for us to nurture. Some people argue that technological advance will enable consumerism to persist. We would do well to note that God also created people with finite minds. Perhaps people will not work out solutions in time. What then? We must address people’s values, not just their minds.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

“We should be no less distinctive in our consumption ethics as in our sexual ethics. Christianity is as much about showing distinctive love to third world suppliers by insisting on ‘fair trade’ goods as it is about showing distinctive love to our husbands and wives by being faithful.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

“The low carbon life. It’s not a “new austerity”, and it’s not “getting by” or “making do” – we don’t actually need all the padding in our modern cocoons and the inner life is so much more sustainable without all that stuffing.” (Jo, CEL Information Officer)

“Jesus was forthright about the ‘deceit of wealth’, and yet we’ve fallen for this one big time. There is an alternative, but like any therapy, the treatment will be painful. A lot of people want to be the place where that healing makes a start, but don’t know how. That is why we have launched ‘ecocell’, to bring people together to make a journey in discipleship to find freedom, for themselves, for society and, we hope, for the earth.” (CEL Chairman, Paul Bodenham )

“The markets have been snatched from the brink of catastrophe. There will be a little pain from spending cuts and some judicious regulation. Before long, we are assured, we’ll be back on the road to economic growth. So that’s OK, then? Actually, no. We may believe we had only the credit crunch to overcome, but in fact the world is facing a looming ‘triple crunch’: credit-fuelled financial meltdown, accelerating climate change and peaking supply of oil. Our current model of globalisation is facing the judgment of ecological reality and gaping inequality. Time is short for building an alternative, but we already have an idea of what it would look like. Jesus had a name for the truly sustainable economy: he called it the kingdom of God . But just as the kingdom is in our midst, so is resistance to it. We don’t change, because we do not want to, or do not know how to. Even if we know the effect the toxic system is having on creation, including ourselves and our children, we are inextricably part of it. Who will rescue us from this body of death, asks St Paul ? His answer provides Christians with an urgent new mandate: to proclaim the gospel in our economic life…” (CEL Storm of Hope pamphlet, 2010)


Jo, CEL Information Officer,  0845 45 98 460,



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Author: poppy | Date: 25 October, 2011 | Category: Media Release | Comments: 0

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