“We cannot continue to exceed the planet’s boundaries”- Bishop David Atkinson at Cheltenham
“In wisdom God made all things”
My photograph shows Bishop David Atkinson, of Southwark driving off from Cheltenham this morning after spending the night with us. David was here to talk to Christian Ecology Link yesterday evening: the title of this post is the one he took, leading into a meditation on Psalm 104 (“one of the great nature poems of the world”), used as a backdrop to some sobering reflections upon our present relationship with the created world.
“What is nature but the creation of God,” he began; hence his astonishment that a journalist – seeing him at a presentation given by Al Gore some while back – should ask, “What possible interest could the Church have in the environment?”
But it’s merely a measure of the general disconnect between our faith and our responsibility to bequeath a better world to future generations. As Professor Mary Grey commented on the Operation Noah Ash Wednesday Declaration: We will encounter [the issues raised by this Declaration] in the form of a question when we face God’s judgement: “What did you do to cherish my creation in its hour of danger?”
We cannot continue to exceed the planet’s boundaries and expect all humanity to flourish. Realising this means we need to address difficult questions: how are our pension funds invested? Should we fly? Ought we really to light up the church spire? Where is neo-liberal economic theory going?
As was clear from the wide-ranging discussion that followed, all of us can’t answer all of these questions, but each of us can tackle some of them. There’s a variety of gifts: we can bear the same witness in our different ways. And muddy carrots keep one earthed. What more natural for believers in an infinite God than to live with the understanding that resources are finite! We need to discover the possibility of living differently in a way which is joyous.
Altogether, an excellent evening, which encouraged all of us to follow David’s example and accept, in our teaching, preaching and living, the challenge of integrating Christian belief with concern for our world and its future!