Gillian Gotora of the Associated Press had this important piece on climate change and africa up from this weekend. The take away qoute.
"Long ago, I could set my calendar with the date the rains started," the 72-year-old said. Nowadays, "we have to gamble with the rains. If you plant early you might lose and if you plant late you might win. We are at a loss of what to do."
Read the rest of the AP story by clicking here.
To understand the health of corals and their relation to changes in ocean chemistry and climate, scientists use the Submersible Habitat for Analyzing Reef Quality (SHARQ ). SHARQ is a new tool that scientists are using to study the ocean floor. Check out some of their resources and videos by clicking here.
by Dean Ohlman
First-century Christian convert Paul, the apostle, claims that we can "clearly" see God's eternal power and divine nature (that which compels us to worship) in what He has created. So what is it we can actually witness in the wild? This question compelled me over the years to attend more carefully to the natural world and also to learn from others about what they have discovered while reading pages from the "book" of God's works in the wilderness. Here's a sampling of what I believe we can witness most dramatically when we enter the unspoiled areas of what John Calvin called "the theater of God's glory."
Seemingly endless time and space. Arguments in the church about whether the earth is young or old often blind us to the fact that, according to Paul, the material world will provide evidence of God's power being "eternal." Time has no beginning or ending apparent to our human senses or understanding"a fact I realized as a teenager that would sometimes cause my mind to whirl in the dark hours of the night. Because the earth-bound human mind cannot conceive of eternality, we want to either deny it or somehow bring it into our human scope. But we can't. Space too has no span measurable by our human instruments. Using our most powerful microscopes and subatomic detectors, we find no limit to smallness. In the largest telescopes and astronomy tools, bigness gets forever bigger. Yes, timelessness and infinity are frightening realities for time-bound finite creatures to ponder. Nonetheless, they are actualities we can "clearly see" in order to keep us on bent knees before our Creator.
Mystifying light, energy, and matter. Even in this day when scientific studies tell us so much about the cosmos, the true nature of light, energy, and matter still defies human definition and understanding. Because we know so much about what these natural features do and how they do it, we usually forget that we operate with them much like a person who skillfully drives a car, but knows next to nothing about what's under the hood. We need to recover the sense of awe that primitive civilizations had regarding these core elements of nature"not that we might worship them but that we might better worship their Creator and Sustainer.
Wonderful life. Life is a human mystery like light, energy, and matter. Scientists don't know what it is or how it came into a cosmos that is almost totally hostile to life. And there is no evidence that it exists anywhere else in the universe. In the wilderness there is one constant celebration of life, the varieties of which are without number. That's one reason that abuse of our wilderness areas seems to be so profane. Realizing that human beings are carelessly causing the extinction of thousands of life forms that are the miraculous handiwork of God ought to fill us with shame"and apprehension. The Bible affirms that God loves all that He has made. Certainly our destruction of these living creatures will not continue without negative consequences for humanity.
By Anna Clark
Growing up at the height of Jaws fever, I still get nervous every time I wade knee-deep into the ocean. I know my galeophobia is unfounded, but until this year, I had no idea how much so. True, shark attacks -- always media sensations -- result in about five fatalities annually. We humans, however, are biting back by killing 73-100 million sharks each year. In the span of a few decades, the ocean's top predators, including the great white, which has endured for 16 million years, have become our prey. At least one-third of shark species are now threatened with extinction.
Sharks, which mature late and produce few young, are being decimated in large part by the lucrative trade in shark fins. Shark fin soup, a delicacy signaling wealth and status, now sells for up to $100 per bowl in China. The value of the fins is far greater than the rest of the carcass, so out of convenience or ignorance the fishermen capture the sharks, cut off their fins, and then toss them back into the ocean, often still alive, to bleed to death. Just last month a story reveals that 2,000 shark carcasses were discovered at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Colombia. The brutal report is made even more sickening when you do the math. Shark finning results in such a death toll every 15-20 minutes. Realizing this prompted me to write this piece, taking my first small step toward doing something, anything, to stop it.
As with any cause I take up, I start by asking myself, "Why now?" Tragic and senseless as it is, shark finning has not been at the top of my priority list. There are many reasons why this is not the choice pet issue for the average Westerner. After all, this atrocity is happening on the other side of the world in a culture very different from ours. We don't eat shark fin soup, so we don't feel responsible for its consumption. Besides, with crises such as hunger and malnourishment threatening 1 billion people -- and the economic fears looming over the rest of us -- we frankly have more pressing concerns. At least those have been my excuses until now.
But come, let us reason together. Over half of the world's people depend on the ocean for their primary food source. Today, due to overfishing, we risk losing sharks -- and tens of thousands of other species we depend on -- to what scientists are calling the sixth great extinction, unique to the last five in history for one reason: humans are causing it. Ecologically speaking, as goes the shark, so goes the rest of creation.
A Face Only the Father Could Love
Most of us are programmed to feel threatened by sharks and consequently, we objectify them, fear them, and increasingly destroy them. This may be a human response, but it is not a faithful one. Facing facts, we are confronted by an undeniable paradox: we must find a way to preserve a creature that scares us. How do we ignite our moral conviction and desire for justice to take action to protect a creature as unsympathetic as the shark?
To begin, we might try perceiving sharks as God would. When he gazes on these exquisite beasts of his own making, what does he see? We can find clues in the bible. In the book of Job, for instance, God responds to Job's sorrowful criticism by demonstrating his power through such examplars of his creation as behemoth and leviathan, as well as more familiar members of his animal kingdom:
"Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust? Its majestic snorting is terrifying! It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength when it charges out to battle. It laughs at fear and is unafraid. It does not run from the sword."
"Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar and spread its wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest?"
Job 39:19-22, 26-27, NLT
Could not sharks, lions of the sea, represent another mighty testament to God's glory? If we accept that sharks are an intentional, even magnificent, part of creation, but then continue to look the other way and ignore them in their distress -- well, it reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Fortunately for sharks, there are some prominent marine biologists, conservationists, and volunteers working feverishly to curb this massacre. They could use our help. Will we offer it to them?
Ben DeVries, creator of Not One Sparrow: A Christian Voice for Animals, offers an eloquent explanation for Christians' lack of engagement on such issues in his capstone paper on the biblical-theological foundation for animal welfare for the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:
The call to governance has most often been traditionally understood in terms of humanity's entitlement to rule over creation and its creatures as we see fit, doing with and taking from it what we will so that our own needs, and often desires, are accommodated with unremitting precedence. Because of this flawed and hugely disastrous assumption, God's elemental intention for our governance has been grossly neglected. His will was, and remains, that we would not be self-focused dominators or oppressors of creation in any respect, but that we would be humble and compassionate stewards of all that he has made and forever retains providence over. I have found, however, that there is an ever-broadening and perhaps nearly unanimous consensus in recent evangelical understanding that the mandates to "rule" and "subdue," even the traditional "have dominion" (KJV), need to be understood in terms of stewardship and caring for creation, with the notions of modesty and service, tending and nurturing which this guiding paradigm contributes to our conception of rulership and administration.
Ben's research and that of other Christian animal welfare advocates underscores a clear truth revealed throughout the bible, starting on page 1 and stated over seven times in Genesis alone: God made the animals and saw that it was good.
As with so many other modern problems, the bible does not spell out precisely what we are to do about shark finning. Nevertheless, to disregard the evidence that we are to be responsible stewards of God's creation, which includes "the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems" would be a sin and a shame. The biodiversity of the sea -= from the sleek mako and the uncommon hammerhead to the formidable whale shark and even the misunderstood and maligned great white -- presents striking specimens of God's handiwork. These are all the inspiration that I need to protect them.
But an important question still remains. How do we translate good intentions into meaningful results?
What You Can Do
This issue, like so many other tragedies in our world, may be too big for any one of us to take on, but we can make an important difference by lending our support to those on the front lines. Here are several very worthy campaigns and resources to follow:
Regarding legislation, here's what I've learned so far. We cannot stop demand but we can cut off supply, each one of us in our own corner of the world. In January 2011, President Barack Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act into law to close the loopholes of the 2000 Shark Finning Prohibition Act. At the state level, Hawaii became the first state to ban the possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins, effective on July 1, 2011. Similar laws have been enacted in the states of Washington, Oregon and California, and in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
For my part, I am using this opportunity to get involved politically to initiate legislation in Texas, where over 200 restaurants still serve shark fin soup. If you have an interest in exploring this issue for your state, I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to help support your efforts, too.
by Tyler Amy
When discussing the theological basis for creation care, I often find myself on the receiving end of the question, "Have you read (insert book title here) yet?" With so many available resources, I find my list of books, magazines and blogs to read growing by the week.
I recently stumbled across something that made this list even longer. Much longer, in fact.
I found a vast collection of creation care resources compiled by Dr. Arnold Neufeldt-Fast of Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto.
With introductory texts, monographs, articles, essays, websites and much more, this resource offers something different than the often seen book recommendations (which I use all the time).
With the seasons changing, I'm looking forward to those long winter weekends with a blanket and book.
I have my blanket picked out, now I need to decide what book to choose.
Tyler Amy is the National Coordinator of Renewal - a Christ-centered, creation care network that focuses on inspiring, connecting, and equipping college students in their work on campus. He lives in Buffalo, NY and is eagerly anticipating the first big snowfall of the season.
by Brittany Bennett
I was browsing my Netflix account last week, and came across the recently released film "Waste Land". I highly recommend watching it for yourself, because each person's story is very moving. It follows a journey taken by Vik Muniz, a Brooklyn-based contemporary artist who focuses his work on materials and their human context. In contemplating his next project, he decided to travel back to his homeland of Brazil to the slums. He had come across aerial photographs of the massive trash dumps, and was blown away by the amount of things and people there. He didn't know what he could create, but he knew the opportunity was there. After reading the synopsis, I just had to know, what happens when he goes!? What does he create?
Muniz gets to know several people who make their living collecting recyclables from the landfill. A couple things really touched my heart about them collectively. One was how proud they were of their work, because they are collecting recyclables, not trash. That is something useful for society. It's still a super dirty job, but it's more respectable then the alternatives of collecting trash to live off of or selling their bodies. The other thing was the community these workers formed in their workplace, which in case we've forgotten...was a dump! There was a lady who set up a cooking space, and always had some good soup cooking for everybody, as well as a smile and kind words. They all joked around with each other, and it just reminded me of how my workplace is.
At the end of the day, it's easy to dismiss thoughts of people who make their living like this when you imagine them as less than human. I think we often imagine such 'others' as drones who live a sad existence, but what can ya do, at least they're making it. Maybe it's even good that there is this gross excess of waste out there they can do something with, and my own consumeristic lifestyle is justified in that. That's something I've wondered. But does that dismissal really bring the Kingdom any closer? Are we satisfied to imagine that is going to be part of our future, that more and more will find themselves surrounded with that reality? It seems to fall short of the signs of justice spoken about in the Word, and fall short of loving like Jesus.
The workers declared often that, though they are grateful to have something to do, there is no future in it. They said it's not something they want for their children. One man (if I could admit to a dear favorite in the group...) always made it a point to educate people on how to recycle. Part of his legacy was his saying "99 is not 100", in reference to the one person who does something. That's a thought that's really stuck with me since. If the people who are day-in and day-out confronted by a sea of waste, think that each person really makes a difference, I'm pretty convinced. And if they're dreaming of something different so am I. Oh, by the way, you have to watch to see what Muniz makes, I'm not telling!
by Jim Ball
The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises the G20 on energy matters, recently released their annual report on energy consumption and their forecast for where things are heading over the next 25 years -- including the possibility of overcoming global warming.
In their World Energy Outlook 2011 the IEA projects that energy demand will grow 40% by 2035. To meet this demand, the world will need to spend about $1.5 trillion. What we spend it on will determine whether we overcome global warming or not.
Below is my summary of the IEA's findings. (I encourage you to check out their materials and a video of their press conference here.)
The Emerging Economies Outstrip Developed Economies in Energy Consumption and Emissions
The Longer We Wait the More Expensive Reducing Emissions Becomes
As the above findings show, we are almost out of time to overcome global warming. The Risen LORD is leading the way, but not enough of us are following.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.
by Jim Ball
Paul Epstein, M.D., was a gentle, unassuming, brilliant, caring man who made the world a better place. He died from Lymphoma on Sunday at his home in Boston. He was 67.
While not a Christian, Paul led the type of life Jesus calls us to in the Gospels. As a physician he served the poor in Mozambique in the late 1970s. While there he began to notice the outbreak of diseases such as malaria in places where it had not been before. He was one of the first to put forward the idea that climate change would have an impact on human health.
I first met Paul in the late 1990s when he came to DC to testify on Capitol Hill about climate and health, and every couple of years we would find ourselves at the same meetings or conferences. A special time was when he co-convened with my friend Rich Cizik a seminal meeting between evangelicals and scientists on climate change and creation-care, attended by E. O. Wilson, who had just published his book, The Creation.
Whenever I asked him for anything Paul was always ready to help in any way he could. He was one of my favorite people in the wider environmental community. I will miss him.
Please pray for his wife, Andy, their son, Benjamin, and daughter, Jesse, and Paul's sister, Emily.
More about Paul can be found in his obituary published in the New York Times.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.
by Kara Ball
Last Thursday night I was privileged to join citizens of Harrisonburg, Virginia at the Massanutten Regional Library to discuss climate change. It was especially meaningful for me to be there because Harrisonburg is a rural agricultural community very similar to Bedford County, Pennsylvania where I lived for a number of years.
I was encouraged to learn there are so many groups already speaking out and acting on climate change in the Shenandoah Valley, including the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Harrisonburg Mennonite Church Creation Care Group, and many others.
We discussed the consensus of the vast majority of climate researchers most actively publishing in the field that global warming is real and that humans are causing it. This consensus is confirmed by every National Academy of Science of every major country in the world, including the United States.
We also discussed how climate change is related to the extreme weather events we are seeing increasingly more of here in Virginia, the United States and around the world, such as devastating droughts, fires and floods. Many states shattered flood records this year. 252 of Texas' 254 counties had wildfires this year. Nearly 400 million people around the world were affected by exceptional drought in the first half of 2011. Estimates of increasing drought intensification around the world on vast, populated areas are dire unless we act on climate change soon.
Some in the room who have been actively speaking out and acting on climate change expressed discouragement that others don't always listen. We discussed how this can be frustrating but that this shouldn't stop us from speaking the truth. None of our loved ones or neighbors will be left unaffected by the impacts of climate change, so we are morally obligated to speak out and act on this issue.
In the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the lion Aslan is king of the magical land of Narnia. Four children from our world enter Narnia and have adventures, fight evil and in so doing become more who God intended them to be. In one scene in the Prince Caspian book, the child Lucy sees Aslan but her older brothers and sisters don't. When she talks with Aslan later and uses this as an excuse for why she didn't follow him, Aslan gently says to her "why would that stop you from coming to me?" He also stresses that, whatever happened in the past, what matters now is that going forward, she can still make a difference if she is faithful to what she knows is true.
Likewise, even if we've been discouraged from speaking about and acting on climate change because of the denials of others, what matters now is that we can still make a difference for our families and loved ones if we act now to confront the climate crisis.
by David De Groot
I feel like there are two kinds of fun. One that seeks our own glory and praise, and another type that seeks God's glory. Perhaps this isn't the most revelatory thought that you've ever heard, but I was struck by while watching "The Trip". In it, two actors, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, play themselves and take a week-long holiday from London to Northern England's Lake District.
The reason for this trip was that Steve and his 20 something girlfriend were taking a hiatus of sorts and thus someone needed to take her place on the trip. So Steve calls his friend, Rob, at the last minute to see if he can sub in. Both men are in their mid-40s and both have children. Both men are obviously actors, well endowed, enjoy laughter, etc. And of course they both like to have fun (don't we all).
And yet, as the film moves along, we see that they have two rather different ideas of what fun means. One is a self-centered type that Steve Coogan embodies. He seeks to have sex with anyone who will participate in the act (and who I guess he finds attractive), doesn't have too many qualms about putting illicit drugs into his system and berates his travel mate Rob for being boring. In short, his idea of fun is to do things his way and don't try to get in his way about it.
The other character, Rob Brydon, is a loyal husband, new father, loves poetry, and loves his friend, Steve. His love is more characteristic of the Christian kind. And yet, he's funny, even hilarious at times, and energetic and I think he genuinely loves life even though he never explains where his joie-de-vivre comes from. As a Christian, I got the scent (see 2 Cor 1:14-16) that his joy came from knowing God.
This involves an abandonment of the mundane things in life such as money and a celebration of the good things in life such as food, nature, love, friends, people, and God.
As it relates to our day to day life, most people think of work as drudgery, but it isn't and it shouldn't be. It should be fun and fun means involving the listeners, the users of your products. It means making things understandable and fun for them! Fun is usable, helpful, easy, creative, and connects us to God. God is amazing and is all of the things that are truly fun.
by Tyler Amy
This week Renewal hosted their annual Day of Prayer, with the theme this year being water issues. As students from Alabama to Alberta creatively gathered on their respective campuses to pray for water-related issues, I sat at my desk staring out the window wondering how much longer November could fight off the snow here in Buffalo, NY.
I began praying for water-related issues here in the Great Lakes region but something felt wrong or out of place.
Now, I know God does not care whether I pray at my desk, in a church or atop a mountain, but it seemed as if God was asking me to step outside to pray.
I felt it was only appropriate to go where I could experience some water Buffalo's LaSalle Park. The spacious park sits overlooking the junction of Lake Erie as it turns into the Niagara River. The water will flow northward until it takes a plummet over the legendary Niagara Falls and then on to Lake Ontario.
As I sat at a well-worn bench and looked around, I realized how interesting of a place I was at. Ahead of me flowed Lake Erie and the Niagara River with its countless creatures, behind me only one hundred yards sat the historic water pumping station for the City of Buffalo and beside me waddled numerous ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis). Each of these players (any many more), including myself, depend on Lake Erie and the Niagara River everyday. It's our common bond. It's our life source.
Now I'm not trying to say the Niagara River has magical powers. I'm merely trying to articulate how essential water is for all of us " human and non-human. God's reveals to us the importance of water throughout scripture. One of my favorites is when Elisha heals the water of the city of Jericho (2 Kings 2:19-22).
As I reflect on why hundreds of students, staff and faculty across the US and Canada prayed for water issues this week, I am reminded that God is delighted by those who seek His healing, comfort and wisdom in all matters of life, including one of the most important how we use water.
Tyler Amy is the National Coordinator of Renewal - a Christ-centered creation care network that focuses on inspiring, connecting, and equipping college students in their work on campus.
by Anthony Waldrop
Bless this meal. Thank you for providing the food for tonight, thank you for the hands that prepared it, and thank you for the nourishment that it will provide for our bodies.
In Jesus' name,
A prayer such as this one is fairly common in a variety of Christian circles. It is short, precise, and provides an adequate blessing for the food in front of us. Nevertheless, a thought surfaced the other day that this prayer is not quite complete. Yes, we are thankful for the provision, nutrition, and preparation of the food, but did the food simply spontaneously generate into our refrigerator minutes before preparation? What about the journey of the food from its source: from seed to plant, calf to cow, or farm to market? As someone who has been intimately involved with the food process over the past 5 months, it has become quite clear that the existence of food for a meal is indeed a protracted and involved process and therefore necessitates a slightly longer prayer.
From June to August of 2011 I held an internship at Five Loaves Farm, a non-profit farm run by A Rocha Santa Barbara that grows food for the low-income families of the Santa Barbara area. While interning I became acutely aware of how much work goes into growing a large amount of high-quality food. It was quite overwhelming some days, as we had to harvest, set up new rows, and plant with limited amounts of time. During those 3 months I garnered a healthy appreciation of the work that goes into growing vegetables, as well as the just as challenging duty of distributing the food in an effective and compassionate manner. After the internship, I was offered the job of developing a small farm/large garden (I like to call it a "farden") for Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara that I had just graduated from in May. This job has been a dream come true in the sense that I get paid to grow food for a student population in which I was an environmental activist for 4 years.
Not only do I get to provide a small portion of locally grown food for the Westmont Dining Commons, but I also have the opportunity to teach people how to expand the prayer above. My understanding of the food system is by no means complete, but by having students interact with this project at Westmont I feel that I am doing my part in reconnecting people with the nuances of how God has created the world. Whether you are a hunter-gatherer or an agriculturalist, food is not an easy resource to obtain.
Hence, as an addendum to the prayer above:
Thank you for the people that have grown this food, harvested it, processed it, sold it, and for all involved in bringing it to this meal. Your faithfulness is everlasting.
In Jesus' name,
Anthony Waldrop is a recent graduate of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA
In the last chapter of my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, I state:
Let me be frank. Many of us have been plodding along in chronological time on this great challenge, and have not awakened to the fact that we are now in kairos time when it comes to climate change. As used in the New Testament, the word kairos means a right or opportune moment usually associated with decisive action bringing about deliverance or salvation. If not acted upon, such moments can pass us by. We are in the kairos climate moment because there is still time to overcome global warming. There is still time for us to be spared from many of its potential devastating consequences, for the poor to be delivered from even more destructive impacts, for less of God's other creatures to become extinct and be robbed of God's blessing of life. If you are still operating in chronological time when it comes to overcoming global warming, it's time to wake up. Simply put: our kairos moment on global warming has arrived, and it won't last forever (p. 436).
Several recent scientific articles confirm once again that right now is our climate kairos moment.
The first article concludes that unless global warming pollution peaks soon and is in significant decline by 2020, it puts us in danger of not being able to overcome global warming by keeping us from exceeding a temperature increase of 2°C compared to preindustrial levels. The second article finds that if we continue on our current path, significant portions of the planet will begin to exceed 2°C by 2040, with the entire globe there by 2060.
Added to these scientific findings is the fact that, contrary to assumptions that the global recession would slow global warming pollution down and buy us a little more time, global emissions exploded in 2010, according to the Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at its Oak Ridge Lab. (These findings are in keeping with those of the International Energy Agency.)
Time Magazine's headline for the article by AP's scientific reporter Seth Borenstein about the increase captured the situation quite well:
As Borenstein comments,
The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.
Borenstein is referring to that wild and crazy group of the world's leading experts on climate change called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Far from being serial exaggerators as deniers would have you believe, the IPCC's reports are quite conservative in their projections, as the latest global warming pollution numbers attest. Even their worst case emissions scenario was too low in comparison with our current reality. We've blown right past it. This means that our current path would have portions of the planet reaching 2°C even before 2040.
It is the Risen LORD who is leading the way in overcoming global warming. But in keeping with human freedom, He does so through human beings. Based on the numbers, we're not doing such a great job of following the Risen LORD in overcoming global warming. What the scientists are telling us is that global emissions must peak by around 2015 and be in significant decline by 2020 to avoid heating the planet to a level where dangerous tipping points could be reached, resulting in far more suffering and destruction.
Can global warming still be overcome with the Risen LORD leading the way? YES. But we must get started in a serious way right now. Join us as we follow the Risen LORD in overcoming global warming.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.
by Jim Ball
Since my family is from McComb, I'm searching for something more in my review of McComb's civil rights struggle. Did any white Christians from McComb stand up and do the right thing? More specifically, did my grandparents, Jumo and GranHelen, do the right thing?
We are all products of our time and place, and there can be a collective moral denial that groups and communities participate in. But in 1964 in McComb there was no place to run and hide morally when it came to the struggle for civil rights. There was no way to claim ignorance when upwards of 20 bombings occur in your community; when your small town is regularly featured on the national newscasts; when the nation's best-known columnist, whose column is published in your local paper, visits your town and features the civil rights struggles occurring your town at least 14 times during the fall of 1964; when even your own local newspaper's editorials during September and October are highlighting the issue and calling for change. If you own a store in downtown McComb like my grandfather did, there is no way to ignore the economic impacts of people being afraid to shop downtown.
In was clear to those who drafted the statement that they were dealing with issues of right and wrong. Equally apparent was the fact that the actions of those violently opposing change were evil "acts of terrorism." And finally, the statement made clear that there must be "equal treatment under the law" for everyone, regardless of one's personal views or feelings.
It was all too clear to the drafters and signatories, surely it was clear to my grandfather, no? Surely as a prominent merchant, a deacon at First Baptist, a respected member of the community, he would have been asked to sign, right?
As I began to scan the list of signatories I started seeing names that looked familiar.
Is that the father of my mother's best childhood fried? Is so-and-so the father-in-law of my aunt, in whose home I often played with my cousin? Is that the son of the lawyer we consulted as we looked into guardianship for GranHelen? Are any of these folks with the last names of Brewer (GranHelen's maiden name), Wilkinson, or Ball related to me?
But mainly I was searching... hoping... to find my grandfather's name. If Jumo's name was there then maybe the moral questions raised when I first learned nearly 20 years ago that Moses had come to McComb could be assuaged.
And there, at the top of the middle column of the next to last page was a strange entry. No other name looked this way. The last name was right, "Wilkinson." But the first name was tauntingly strange: "J..i..i..y." My grandfather went by "Jimmy." Could this be him?
Did my grandfather sign the Statement of Principles on behalf of himself and my grandmother? After a long investigation the answer is ... I don't know.
Such ambiguity, such lack of clarity, such seeing through a glass darkly, is a plaintive, restive, metaphor for the moral standing of southern white Christians like my grandfather and grandmother and their spiritual offspring. But not knowing if I had found my namesake's name made me face a simple truth: absolution would not have come from finding a name on a list.
What I do know is that I never remember my grandparents or my parents making anything close to racist statements. We were taught to treat all people with respect, to treat others equally regardless of race or religion-- indeed, as Christians, to love everyone.
But righteousness is not the absence of bad acts, of sinful, hurtful acts. It is the presence of good acts, the presence of right relations with everyone and God.
The Heffner's put one foot on this road in terms of race relations and they were runt out of town. The Statement of Principles was a good statement for its day. But while it may have signified a change of heart by some of those who signed it, it was external political and economic pressure that brought it about. True righteousness, doesn't require external pressure. It flows out of a righteous heart
Adapted from Chapter 10 of Global Warming & The Risen Lord, a new book by Rev. Jim Ball Executive Vice President of Policy and Climate Change at the Evangelical Environmental Network. You can learn more about the book by clicking here.
by Ben DeVries
By now there's a good chance you've heard some news of the awful events which took place in Central Ohio in late October. Terry Thompson, previously convicted of animal cruelty and other criminal charges, set 50-plus animals free from his private exotic animal collection at Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, including lions, leopards, bears, wolves, primates and 18 endangered Bengal tigers. Thompson then tragically took his own life, and 49 of the free-roaming animals were killed by local police, naturally untrained to deal with such a crisis involving so many foreign and dangerous animals.
You can get a good overview of Thompson's history with animals and Ohio's lax legislation with respect to exotic animal possession, and failure to require Thompson to relinquish his collection, in a CNN.com article and accompanying video "Friend: Animal farm owner under stress."
I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a few meaningful reflections written from a specifically Christian worldview, including two from friends and contributors to our blog.
From Karen Swallow Prior and Christianity Today's Her.meneutics blog comes "Exotic Animals and Kingdom Ethics," and this well-stated preview:
This is not an argument for an absolutist position against all human enjoyment and use of animals. I don't believe God's call for human stewardship of or dominion over his creation is quite so black and white. ... Rather, responsible stewardship requires wisdom, discernment, adaptability, and most of all love"love for the Creator first and, flowing from that, love for his creation.
And , pastor Jeff Munroe wrote a post for ThinkChristian titled "Dominion, Destruction and the Exotic Animals of Ohio," including these poignant lines:
We often hurt the very things God has entrusted to our care"we hurt the earth, we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves and we hurt the animals we share this planet with. The destruction of those great animals"animals that bear testimony to the wonder and variety of God as creator"is yet another sign of humanity's failings.
Ben DeVries (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School '08) founded Not One Sparrow, a Christian voice for animals after completing his capstone project on a biblical-theological foundation for animal welfare at Trinity. He also blogs at With Those Who, a journal of empathy, and lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin with his wife Cheryl, two-year-old son Jadon and three adopted cats.