I am currently in Kenya, being reminded once again of the enormous human toll caused by environmental degradation. This post is four years old, but perhaps even more relevant than when first published:
Alan Paton wrote his novel in 1946, published in 1948. It is set in South Africa. What is startling about the book is that the first two pages could have been written about Kenya – and could have been written yesterday.
The lessons from today’s reading are painfully clear: 1)Environmental degradation is not a new problem. Abuse of God’s creation is, apologies to Paton, as old as the hills. As ancient as human nature. If you’ll allow me to quote myself in Our Father’s World, ‘environmental problems are sin problems.’
And, 2)Why don’t we learn? If it was obvious that people were destroying the very land they needed to live on more than 60 years ago, why do we keep acting surprised? Why do we think we can solve this with more fertilizer or another loan from the World Bank?
It has been a year of flood and drought. This spring’s floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are old news to most of us, as is the ongoing drought in Texas, which is breaking records set as long ago as 1917, long before the Dust Bowl of the 1930′s.
But nowhere in the world are things as bad as what is happening in East Africa, not far from where Craig and Tracy Sorley are serving in Kenya.
The Worst Drought in 60 Years
“Once More Into the Abyss”. That’s how the Economist news magazine described the developing drought in Kenya and other East African countries a week or so ago:
BLOATED bellies with stick arms and legs; huge eyes staring out of skeletal heads; gaunt mothers trying to suckle babies on withered breasts. The world thought it might never see such scenes again. Famine in Africa, absent for many years, appeared to have gone the way of diseases for which we now have cures or vaccines. Continue reading →
While it is hard to find a mainstream newspaper or magazine that does not have one, two or more stories on environmental topics these days. Out “in the world” the crisis enveloping God’s creation is apparent and people are concerned. Scanning the pages of Christian periodicals and journals yields the opposite result: Little or no coverage of anything remotely environmental. Which is why it is encouraging to find creation care appearing in two important magazines and journals in the last couple of weeks. Read on and click through – they are both worth your time.
My colleague in Kenya, Craig Sorley, has an important paper in the latest issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research. The entire issue is devoted to the topic of Creation Care, including topics like Mission and the Care of Creation by Jonathan J. Bonk [HTML or PDF] and Historical Trends in Missions and Earth Care by Dana L. Robert [HTML or PDF]. [All these papers require free registration to read.] Continue reading →
This is the message we have just sent from Care of Creation to our friends and partners around the world. It’s topic is appropriate to Our Father’s World friends and readers, I think. May you have a truly blessed and deeply meaningful Holy Weekend whereever you are!
“Easter People in a Good Friday world.”
This phrase grabbed the attention of a few people earlier this week – in part, I suppose, because it was heard on NPR. Host Michele Norris was interviewing writer Ann Lamott about Easter. Citing the tension she feels between the world as it should be and the world as it is, Lamott quoted another author, Barbara Johnson: “We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world.”
Of course, most of the people around us are actually Good Friday people living in a Good Friday world. Continue reading →
This won’t be a surprise to those who paid attention to some of the serious weather events of 2010: When Russia’s wildfires exploded, we heard that Russia would be banning wheat exports for the immediate future. Then Pakistan lost an entire rice harvest and a good deal of wheat due to the worst flooding in that nation’s history – requiring Pakistan to import more than it normally would have done. And now Australia’s floods are affecting not only coal but wheat and other commodities. Continue reading →
In this blog we don’t spend a great deal of time on climate change/global warming. This is not because we do not believe it’s a problem – it is. But in the larger picture of what is happening in God’s creation, climate change is one of many problems, including loss of biodiversity (extinctions), water, deforestation, chemical pollution – the list could go on and on. The January issue of the Journal of the Royal Geographic Society, one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world, devotes itself to the question of whether and when the globe might reach a temperature increase of four degrees Celsius (7 degrees F) and what such a temperature rise might mean.
This is not good bedtime reading, but you need to at least take a look. Keep in mind that the 2070′s (see the first article below) are within the lifetime of today’s college students, and that this is not material from the radical edges of the blogosphere. These are some of the world’s most respected scientists, but – considering the scenarios they are describing – some of them are more optimistic than I would have expected.
Below are some of the articles in this issue with a quote or two from each. The content is free today – I’m not sure if it will remain so. I have copies if the links to the articles no longer work – drop a note in the comments or send me a message. Continue reading →
A Conversation about God, His Creation and Our Role in Creation