Blogs

Nov
12

Bill McKibben on the China-U.S. Climate Deal

Note: This is McKibben's response to this week's "climate deal" between the U.S. and China.  A good summary worth reading.  I'm happy to be on a panel with McKibben (pictured above) next week at the Society for Biblical Literature conference. 

Last night, just weeks after the largest climate mobilization ever, the world's two biggest polluters -- the United States and China -- announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it's a sign that our pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more.  Here's my take on what the just-announced plan from President Obama and Premier Xi is, and isn't:

1) It is historic. John Kerry was right to use the phrase in his New York Times oped announcing the deal: for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions. This is a necessity for advancing international climate negotiations.

2) It isn't binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it's meaningful, but for now it's a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead.

3) It is proof -- if any more was needed -- that renewable energy is ready to go. The Chinese say they'll be using clean sources to get 20% of their energy by 2030 -- which is not just possible, it should be easy. Which they know because they've revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90% or more in the last decade.

Oct
30

"Visit to Jeju Island," by Art Laffin

A letter from our friend Art Laffin (Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in DC) who is visiting Jeju Island in Korea, which gives a taste of the Catholic resistance to the military base there:

"Greetings from Jeju Island which is located off the coast of S.Korea in the South China Sea. I left Manila on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 29) and arrived on this beautful Island later that evening. I left an amazing community in Manila standing for life and justice and saying No to state-sponsored killing. And I have come to be with another amazing community who are saying Yes to life and No to the construction of new naval base that is a crime and a sin!

Seeing that I was going to be in the Asia-Pacific region, I was able to make arrangements to travel after the Manila conference to Jeju Island to support this very important peace initiative. For the last seven years I have been closely following this inspiring nonviolent campaign, led by local islanders along with priests and sisters, to stop the construction of this U.S.-backed Korean naval base on Jeju Island (named  the Island of Peace by the Korean government).

Oct
24

"Silvopasture and Carbon Sequestering in Wisconsin," by Mike Miles

Note:  Mike Miles (above with a friend) and his family and community mates have been doing a rural Catholic Worker in Wisconsin for many years, and participating in anti-nuclear resistance.  His reflection below describes his conversion to silvopasturing as an expression of his discipleship.  --CM

As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a farmer. It started on my grandmother’s farm where twelve cousins would meet for the summer to help with chores, chase cows when they got out, put up hay, but mostly to hang out at her forty acre private lake. Not a bad life for a kid from the Chicago suburbs.  Why would I want to be in Little League when I could be at the farm?

This all started for me in the early 1960’s when everything we did was about raising food to eat and sell. The garden was as important as all the work that went into filling up the milk bulk tank. Eggs were gathered every day, the whole clan gathered to butcher chickens, but the hardest job was battling mosquitoes for every last blueberry back in the swamp. Pies and jam made up for the torture we endured trampling through the thickets. It was a great life.

Fifty years later I still love farming.  Our garden is much bigger than Nana ever would have put up with and now when we go back in the woods it is for maple syrup.  Our kids always teased us that we weren’t really farmers because we didn’t have animals but we showed them when we got chickens, pigs, and steers after they all left for college.     

Oct
22

"Running Orders" by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Note:  This poignant poem about the Israeli military's "humane" policy of calling households in Gaze one minute before they are about to be bombed was forwarded to us by our friend Clancy Dunigan in Seattle. --CM


"Running Orders," by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha


They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
Run.

Sep
23

Waiting for the Movement to Begin, by Fred Bahnson

Note:  A dispatch from our friend Fred Bahnson from the weekend's People's Climate March in N.Y. city.  

Two days ago on W. 58th street in Manhattan, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a massive throng of people, waiting. 

I had joined Wake Divinity alum Caleb Pusey and current student Crystal Rook who had traveled overnight by bus from Charlotte to New York. We had come for the People's Climate March, the largest such gathering in history. We were ready to march, had been ready for over an hour, in fact. But the line there on W. 58th St. showed no sign of moving. And so we waited.

We've all been waiting, haven't we? When it comes to climate legislation, we've mostly heard rhetoric from our leaders. We've been wondering why can't we get going? It's clear climate change is real, that it's happening now, and that we need to take drastic steps to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels in order to avoid ecological catastrophe. Whether it's eating California tomatoes instead of growing them locally, or burning Kentucky coal instead of getting our electricity from wind or solar, the way we currently nourish and power our lives needs to change. We each can do our part, and the role of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative is to train faith leaders to do their part to create "more redemptive food systems." But we're still waiting on our global leaders to do their part. Which is why we went to New York. 

And what a hopeful day it was. 

//more

Sep
22

What Kind of Question is That? A Reflection from Faith and Money Network

Note:  This is a recent post from our friends at Faith and Money Network:

 How much is enough?  

"What kind of question is that?" we might respond. “You can never have enough.” There’s never enough money to cover every potential financial disaster. There’s never enough stuff to make us feel loved and whole.

“The notion that we will never have enough is part of the dysfunctional story of modern technological, capitalist society that we have internalized,” said theologian Ched Myers in a recent interview with FMN Director Mike Little. We carry, Myers said, a sense of anxiety that leads us to believe we can never have enough.

That’s not God’s message, however. “The old story [in the biblical book of Exodus] actually says there is such a thing as enough,” Myers contended.  //more

Sep
14

A Review of Gordon Oyer's "Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest," by Mark C. Johnson

Mark C. Johnson is Executive Director of  The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice in New York.  Below is his review of  Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest: Merton, Berrigan, Yoder and Muste at the Gethsemani Abbey Peacemakers Retreat. Gordon Oyer, Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon, 2014.  

Gordon Oyer’s book is an almost magical bridging of a half dozen genre in a single work. It starts out as a detective story, reconstructing, through sheer leg-work in archives and interviewing surviving participants, the explanation of how and why this retreat was held in 1964 at Thomas Merton’s residence, the Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. It then becomes a day by day account of the proceedings, almost dramaturgical in its structure; one could envision it restaged. But it also works as meta-theory and meta-praxis, describing the way it which the event opened new ecumenical conversations and offering a powerful rationale for the continuing practice of retreats.  It serves as a theological study of the roots of some strains of thinking later deepened by Merton and Yoder in particular.  Historical biographies flesh out the incredibly significant small collection of agents of peacemaking in the room including, like a documentary film rolling credits, what they went on to do (or in the case of A.J. Muste what was brought to the table) with their witness.  Finally the entire story is reexamined through the lens of contemporary voices, people who if the retreat were scheduled today would likely be in the room.  //more 

Sep
12

Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land

Last month Wipf and Stock published  Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land.   Ched worked with the editorial team on this project and helped get it to press.  From the book's press release: 

A critical examination of political Zionism, a topic often considered taboo in the West, is long overdue.  Moreover, the discussion of Christian Zionism is usually confined to Evangelical and fundamentalist settings.  The present volume will break the silence currently reigning in many religious, political, and academic circles and, in so doing, will provoke and inspire a new, challenging conversation on theological and ethical issues arising from various aspects of Zionism—a conversation that is vital to the quest for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.     //more

Sep
6

"Elijah and the Green Man," by Scott Hill

Note:  Scott approached me at Wild Goose this summer after I gave a talk on “Elijah as the Archetypal Wilderness Prophet,” and mentioned his investigation summarized below.  I asked him to write it up; you can reach him at scottdh@juno.com.  (Photo above: 17th century Mughal painting of al KhidrMystic, Green One, The Verdant OneTeacher of the Prophets.) 

 

Among Palestinian Christians and Muslims--it's true in Iraq as well--St. George and Elijah are considered the same person: "el-Khidr" a Muslim holy figure mentioned in the Qur'an, whose name means "The Green One."  The two names are often merged as "Khidrlas" (Augustinovic).  

At churches that celebrate St. George in Palestine--notably in the village of El-Khidr near Bethlehem, where he performed a miracle--icons of Elijah are prominent, and veneration by Muslims common.  I have seen pictures of Muslims among photos placed around the icons, and of Muslim women bringing babies to the church to thank the prophet for their birth (there are specific rituals for this; see Hill).    //more

Aug
8

"Listen to the Birds--NOW! A Reflection on Ornitheology and Climate Catastraophe" by Ted Lyddon Hatten

Note:  I had the pleasure of collaborating a bit with artists and theologian Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten at Wild Goose Festival in June on his amazing "ornitheology" project.  Below is his latest reflection. --CM

 

I spent a few days in the North Carolina woods this June, attending the Wild Goose Festival, sometimes described as a Christian Woodstock (apt, but with fewer drugs and less music). In its fourth year, WGF is a gathering of believers who may, or may not be described as post-modern, post-Christian, recovering Evangelical, progressive, emergent… The banks of the French Broad River provided the backdrop for the deep conversations that can happen at the intersection of art, spirituality, and social justice. Famous names like Wallis, Schaeffer, and McLaren brought their followers. William Barber, Ched Myers, and the Carnival de Resistance brought a challenge to the present order.

A four-day festival promises room for a kind of extended dialogue that is rare in these latter days. But the most important conversation I heard was over my head, literally, and in a language I do not speak. It was also the loudest, by far.                 //more

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