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Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change
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Climate Church - Week 1 > Preparation before June 1

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message 1: by Jane (last edited May 02, 2018 06:15AM) (new)

Jane EGS | 32 comments Mod
Setting the scene: Read the Forward through Interlude, pp. xv through 46. Complete your reading before June 1.
The author describes the changing WORLD in which the church of the present future lives and loves.

A word for readers who aren't "climate change people." Hang in there. Think of this pre-June 1 reading as establishing the setting for a story where the setting is one of the characters, and drives the plot. Our discussion will focus on the protagonists (us, the church, God). Expect to be inspired by the possibilities far more than you are depressed by the setting. "The church was born for this."

Starting June 1: The remainder of the book helps us imagine the possibilities for the changing CHURCH which lives and loves in this world. Each chapter is a series of short posts clustered around themes. That is where our discussion will begin. I'll post the first reading and questions for our discussion June 1.

An invitation: Author Rev. Jim Antal will be preaching and leading a discussion at Community UCC ) on May 6. I hear there may be a 20% discount for purchases that day.
Jim preaches at 10:30AM worship; discussion with Jim at 12:30PM.
No reservation needed.
Community UCC, 814 Dixie Trail, Raleigh www.communityucc.org


message 2: by Gary (new)

Gary Smith | 10 comments For me, the most moving part of the read was on pages 42ff. Jim describes the hypothetical letter of a pastor to her church on the closing of their church in the year 2070. The church had been under water 6 times, worked with the neighbors to rebuild multiple times, but in the end could not continue. This is the future, I want our generation(s) to prevent. It felt too real; I could see it.


message 3: by Carl (new)

Carl Sigel | 4 comments Gary, I was also very moved by this letter. I have told a number of people about this hypothetical letter because it seems so plausible based on current climate and social events, and what science tells us. When Emilie heard me relate the contents of the letter to a friend she said, "this is what is keeping you awake at night. You must stop reading this stuff."

On NPR a couple of days ago I heard about another book, which I think has just been published. I didn't catch the title. The book is about the previous 5 great extinctions, which all had natural causes in contrast to the 6th great extinction caused by humans. What I had not heard before was that during all but one of the first five there was also elevated CO2 levels (caused by natural events - volcanoes etc).


message 4: by Gary (new)

Gary Smith | 10 comments Thanks, Carl. One of the recent Nature Climate Change articles spoke of how their work on the realities of climate change is bringing down the scientists working on it. The article went on the say that their climate change science community was critical to keeping them together.

I believe that our climate change faith community is important to keeping us together too.

Thanks, all, for being there.


message 5: by Carl (new)

Carl Sigel | 4 comments Gary, I have not been able to keep up with the recommended pace for this dialogue; however, I think this is a terrific book so far, and I hope to contribute more to the discussion at some point.


message 6: by Grady (last edited Jun 22, 2018 01:59PM) (new)

Grady | 3 comments I’m not sure this is the place for this comment, but I also don’t see how to create a new thread, so hopefully this is okay.

For years, I’ve thought one way to look at the history of a civilization, and especially our history, is to see periods of turmoil out of which another core value gets added to the culture. It’s not necessarily the value folks are fighting for or over - for example, the upshot of the Wars of Religion in Europe between 1517 and 1648 was not the core adoption of either Protestantism or a resurgent Catholicism, but a recognition that some degree of liberty of conscience is necessary for social sustainability. We’ve experienced similar adoptions of core values around race and civil rights, round gender, and most reently, around sexual orientation and gender identity.

At our current moment, it feels that there are at least two core cultures - the globalized center in the US, and the revanchist, greivance-driven hard right. But barring a catastrophe that derails the rule of law, our demographics suggest the center wins out. I see the adoption of sustainability as a core value of that centrist culture as one of the most consequential processes of our time.

I suspect that for me personally, this way of looks at history is influenced by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, particularly the first book, which fed my imagination as a teenager. That book can be read as an exploration of what it means to be a ‘chosen people’ - or to bleeive oneself to be a ‘chosen people’ - in a world that is ultimately driven by scientific principles. One can ask a similar question about ‘American exceptionalism’ - a version of the ‘chosen people’ identity that is looking pretty ragged right now. And, Jim Antal’s vision of the church being made for this time is also a refashioning of a sense of being a chosen people - a city on a hill - not surprising that this should be articulated in this way by a United Church of Christ minister. That doesn’t mean it is unreal, but it does offer one way to read Antal’s arguments outside his own frame: that in this period of transition, all sorts of institutions must make the shift to absorb sustainability as a core value. This is one way a church denomination is doing it. I particularly appreciate the fusion of economic justice with sustainability in his approach.


message 7: by Gary (new)

Gary Smith | 10 comments I really appreciate Grady's comments that "all sorts of institutions must make the shift to absorb sustainability as a core value." And that Antal describes "... one way a church denomination is doing it."
And I appreciate Skip allusion to Antals question of “Just which side to you want your church to be on?”
I want to struggle to be with and for God's people as we all absorb sustainability as a core value.


message 8: by Jane (new)

Jane EGS | 32 comments Mod
I wish we were moving toward thinking of sustainability as a globally-shared core value, but I am less inclined than Grady to see signs we are on that path.

It seems to me that a core value is a Good which is worth sacrificing for because it has value in and of itself. If sustainability were a core value, its proponents would not be so wedded to arguments about cost/benefit balance sheets, or the pleasures of nature. The earth's balanced ecosystem would itself be worth honoring, even if the balance sheet didn't work out, or no one could hike in the most beautiful, fragile places. People would be willing to sacrifice time, treasure, and life to ensure sustainability. While there are certainly some people who think of sustainability this way, I don't hear most voices making that argument.

Instead, we seem to be treating each environmental imbalance as a threat to our own existence. We play whack-a-mole with oceanic plastic, climate change, deforestation/mud slides/topsoil erosion, toxic discharge. Sustainability is more like peace. While we may assess specific wars as necessary or not, there is not a shared global value that war be eliminated. Like war, unsustainability is a necessary evil to be used as a tool under specific, generally agreed rules.

I hope some of you will push back on this, giving me evidence where I am wrong. I much prefer Grady's reading of the times. I do think his reading is closer to Christian scripture. But then I also think scripture would tell us that war should not be considered a tool, but instead that peace is a core value.


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