Our Common Home Needs Care to be a Common Action

Pope Francis in Philadelphia during his September 2015 visit to the United States.
Pope Francis in Philadelphia during his September 2015 visit to the United States.

The following represents a transcript of my remarks to the interfaith event “Light the Way: Faiths for Climate Justice” held in Madison, WI September 24, 2015. The organizers and presenters sought to amplify Pope Francis’ exhortation to care for creation and to act against climate change.  He  articulated that message in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’ and reiterated it during his visit to the United States that same week.  To condense and echo some of the Pope’s sentiments, God’s gift of creation needs an unprecedented level of shared concern and  cooperative action  if we are to preserve it for all of us.

“Good evening. I am Kermit Hovey, Director of Operations and Development at Care of Creation, an Evangelical Christian, globally active, faith-based environmental action, education and outreach group. We mobilize the church to care for creation. Many of us believe that as Christians fully respond to Christ’s call on their lives and to his good news they will care for creation. In other words, as the Lausanne Movement, a global Evangelical network has put it, “Creation Care is indeed a gospel issue”. By caring for creation, we will care for what Pope Francis has called “our common home”. However to do so effectively we must recognize that our common home has problems. – Big. Urgent. Problems. Again, in the words of the Lausanne Movement, “We are faced with a crisis that is pressing, urgent, and that must be resolved in our generation.”

Our Common Home as seen from space. The continent of Africa dominates the upper left in this view.
Our Common Home as seen from space. The continent of Africa dominates the upper left in this view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with Pope Francis we recognize the irreplaceable treasure of Creation and in particular of this world that is “our common home”. It is a common home shared by all of us – rich and poor, north and south, developed and developing, red and yellow, black and white. It is our common home not just shared with other humans but also with all other living things – from microscopic blue-green algae to gargantuan blue whales.

Microscopic view of bluegreen algae.
Microscopic view of blue-green algae.
A drawing of a gargantuan blue whale - note figure of human diver to scale near tail of whale.
A drawing of a gargantuan blue whale – note figure of human diver to scale near tail of whale.

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, if the smartest, cleverest, most enterprising and rambunctious creature on this planet, one made “a little lower than the angels” does not care for our common home, but instead trashes and despoils it, we humans do so not just to our detriment, but to the detriment of all others and all else.

It is our common home by design and origin. In the beginning God created. In the beginning God delegated. Foundationally and fundamentally, God has given us responsibility for our common home.

I can assure you that God did not give us the keys to this home so we could tear it to shreds like scrap salvagers demolishing a house. Breaking through walls, ripping out water pipes and electrical wires, pulling out timber and plaster board to make a quick sale and a quick profit may leave some richer, but ultimately leaves more and more of us impoverished and, in the end, homeless.

Our Common Home?
Our Common Home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can assure you that God did not entrust our common home to us to turn it into a dung heap or a pile of filth. It is not a place to heedlessly dump more and more waste – whether green house gases, such as Carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere or toxic chemicals into the water. Sadly, the evidence shows that we continue to do so. As we do we make our common home less hospitable not just for our fellow humans but for our fellow creatures, many of whom disappear ahead of us.

A pile of filth?
Our common home trashed, desecrated and turned into a pile of filth?

Not only those of us who identify as Evangelicals, but all of us, can with integrity, solidarity and good will stand with Pope Francis and embrace his exhortation to pay attention to and care for our common home. ”

Our common home needs care to be a common action.