In November 2013, the Philippines' climate delegate, Jeb Sano, issued an appeal heard in capitals around the world. As his island nation staggered in the wake of the second "once-in-a-lifetime" storm to strike in the span of a single year, Sano begged the world: "To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian Ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels…."
Go and see, he begged us. Go to the Himalayas and Andes, where poor people are being flooded by melting glaciers. Go to the deltas of the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile, where livelihoods and hopes are being drowned. Go to the parched savannahs of Africa. Go and see what we are doing to our global neighbors.
And that's exactly what a North American evangelical denomination has committed itself to do. In the summer of 2012, the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA) overwhelmingly endorsed a declaration that "human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue," and that climate pollution "poses a significant threat to future generations, the poor, and the vulnerable." And the church committed itself to "go and see" the impact of climate change on poor communities, and to tell others what they saw. more >>
Are evangelicals, of all the religious communities in America, the most in need of science education?
That would seem to be the take-away if you attended a national conference held in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2015, as I did.
Sponsored by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), the well-attended presentations claimed to be concerned primarily about the conflicting views that the religious and scientific communities tend to have of one another. One religious community, however, was singled out for special attention: evangelicals. more >>
Each of us must decide what to do with each day. In this fast-moving age of digital information we are constantly bombarded with urgent appeals for help. Appeals become a veritable digital deluge, a flood of electronic chaos that threatens to drown us in misery. Deciding which problems are genuine is not the most difficult challenge. No, the difficulty is to discern which we might reasonably take on and hope to make a difference.
The digital age has reduced the size of the world. Problems that were distant, in another land, are now brought to our digital doorstep. Given the velocity of information in the digital age, we are flooded not only with legitimate but also with many illegitimate demands for action. Environmental crises loom large in the modern consciousness. However, our perception of crisis is most often not the product of personal experience. Instead, it is a product of media designed to play on our hopes and fears.
This world is full of real problems. But in today's climate we are more than ever liable to be swept along by expertly crafted narratives that stretch truth and swell our inboxes. How then can one determine which of our perceptions of reality are true, and which are fear mongering? more >>
There is a movement sweeping across the globe manifesting itself in the fiery hearts of those preaching the gospel of "the stark truth of climate change," insisting the divestment of fossil fuels will "save" the planet. Even President Obama claims, "the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact." A reasonably dramatic statement, given that nothing is ever settled in the world of science.
Why is the movement so convincing? Is it our eagerness to trust information spoon-fed to us by pop culture and a not-so-fair-and-balanced Internet, rather than rolling up our sleeves to dig for truth? Social media and 140-word tweets have taken the world by storm and have left us dimwitted in their wake it seems. Claiming man can answer what ails the planet when we're not sure if anything is wrong is a fool's errand that largely overinflates man's position in the hierarchy of things.
God did lay out the pecking order. "What is man," asked the Psalmist, "that you take notice of him…you gave him dominion over the work of your hands, and you put all things under his feet…" Clearly, we see man is charged with sensible stewardship and proper utilization of creation. The big stuff is left for God to handle. And that is the tough, faith-y part because then we are forced to consider what we really believe about God. Did the omniscient God who created the heavens and the earth have a workable plan for coexistence in mind when he also created man? more >>
In the account of the Exodus, God's people had a bright future ahead of them, if they only would trust in the Lord and lean not on their own understanding.
The days of wandering in the desert aren't too different than the days we inhabit. Then like now, the cultural challenges seemed stacked against us. Then like now, God still has more to do with each of us, yet many evangelicals are calling for a return, a return to Egypt, a return to separation from the culture.
In the book of Numbers we find the account of Caleb. Moses through God led the Israelite refugees through Sinai to the edge of "The Promised Land." He then sends twelve men to explore this land of milk and honey. After 40 days, they return. One, Caleb, sees the hope for a better future. The others are fearful and cause the people to cry out, "If only we had died in Egypt." more >>
Late last year a group of evangelical environmentalists associated with the Office of Social Justice (OSJ) of the Christian Reformed Church, after returning from visiting Kenya, were featured in a series of videos titled "Climate Conversation: Kenya in which they say poor Kenyans are suffering from reduced rainfall caused by manmade global warming.
"It's unfortunate, but farmers all over Africa are talking about changing weather patterns," says Dr. Dennis Garrity, Director General, World Agroforestry Center, U.S.A. "There has been enormous changes in the onset of the rainy season, the length of the rains, the duration and the intensity of drought during the rainy season. And it all fits the scientific evidence that Africa is in fact the area of the world that is going to suffer the most from climate change."
Craig Sorley, Care of Creation Director for Kenya, explains, "Farmers in the past, when I was a young man, always say the rains were so predictable. And now the rains have become very unpredictable. They are playing a guessing game as to when the rains are going to arrive." more >>