Wednesday, 30 January 2008

note to danika - architectural scepticism

am i being undone? i would venture that scepticism *is* undoing in its very nature, and just as you become what you frequently do, and you become that which you worship, so too scepticism. scepticism is anathema to joy, and if and for as long as i adopt a joyless scepticism i will by degrees become more and more undone, unmade, towards a relative formless void. foresight? who can say, but the degree to which i do subscribe to this cynical view of my prospective profession, reflects the degree to which i lack a hope for change in human nature requisite for environmental salvation, which begets the degree to which i am less than fully human and so the degree to which i am part of the problem rather than part of the solution. i don't think i am being undone, in so much as i am probably melodramatic over how deep-rooted my scepticism is, i think there is hope, a hope beyond a socially conditioned echo of a former christendom. if there is truth then there is salvation.


Environmentalism is a religion and a religion that knows no grace.
Environmentalism has its prophets, its Sterns, its Al Gores, calling a globe to repent and believe.
Environmentalism has its atheists, skeptics and apologists.
Environmentalism relies on an assurance of things hoped for and a conviction of things not seen.
Environmentalism's street preachers preach of an impending apocalypse.
Environmentalism has its own morality, its ten commandments.
Environmentalism has its paid for indulgences, its solar panels, its cosmetic morality.
Environmentalism wages holy wars, draws blood and makes martyrs.
Environmentalism presumes a salvation by works.
Environmentalism is just another religion, and taken to its logical conclusion, exhausting?

The Environment: Sermon Notes

God is Green – Introduction (1 of 5)
Matt Crick, Mars Hill Bible Church 01/07/07

Story given to the freed slaves at Sinai:
God shares with his people that you weren't created to be slaves ...and it was good.

Genesis 1v26 - “man and woman he created them”
He creates things and us to be in relationships
1. with God, 2. with others, 3. with inner self, 4. with creation

God makes us to rule in loving stewardship, as a significant aspect of what we are created for
Out of the overflow of his love, we should *serve* and *protect*
'abod' – dress, serve
'shamar' – protect, attend to

Romans 8All of creation itself is groaning
Noah, post flood, plants vineyard, cultivate, be fruitful
Genesis 9 - My covenant with you and all creation/earth
Exodus – God rescues 600thousand people and their livestock and their herds
In slavery people worked 7 days and animals work 7days
God rescues both of them from slavery “neither your ox nor etc work...”
There is a rhythm which extends to the soil

In the beginning the spirit hovered over the water: order out of chaos
- Jesus too steps in to restore order to our chaos, in our lives, and in creation
- The liberation of Jesus death, is cosmic in its scope – as creation is longing for liberation

John 20 – Jesus is raised in a garden, creation begins in a garden
Mary, thinking he was the gardener...
New creation begins in a garden, Jesus is the original gardener

Col 1 – Reconcile all things, making peace, things on earth and heaven

Rev 21 New heaven and earth:
The word should be “restored” ~ reconciliation, redemption, renewed
Same language as Paul in Corinthians: we are a new creation in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come

v2 Garden -- City
Technology is a good thing, used to the glory of god

Rev 22 – the heart of god for universal healing for all creation- ?garden city

Luke 24v13 – we had hoped...
Sometimes its hard to see Jesus on the road with us
--; despair in the face of environmental crisis
He comes alongside them on the road and tells them the story differently
The heart of Jesus – to invite us to join him in this restoring
In a host's home one would not take on the role of serving, breaking bread, but Jesus does that to help them see the way of suffering and serving – serve and protect
vs Adam and Eve chose to serve themselves
--> emotional and spiritual nakedness – despair shame fear.
When this couple allow Jesus to serve them, their eyes are opened in new ways – despair turns to hope

Paul (Corinthians) we have the mind of Christ,
A prophetic imagination to imagine things differently
to imagine shalom restored, bringing heaven to earth

Hearing the story only is not enough, we need to experience him,
intellectual assent alone does not allow us to see the full revelation of jesus,
We need to experience Christ living in us

God is Green – Serve God, Save the Planet (2 of 5)
Matthew Sleeth, Mars Hill Bible Church 08/07/07

“Serve God, Save the Planet”

(Personal Story: Dyslexia, ER, Doctor size life...)
(Personal Observations: Increasing rate of asthma, 3 women in 30s die of breast cancer, chance 1/19 --> 1/7 since he started medicine)
(States have changed their State Bird or State Tree etc due to extinction)
('The world is dying.' - No one can project out the numbers and not...)
(“We hug trees for Jesus” t-shirt)

Churches have had a theology of: we've got dominion, its all going to get zapped anyways
vs. The Bible that is a story about a material world that God made:
eg. 1 theme through the bible – the tree,
- Genesis - Tree of life, Tree of knowledge in Eden
- Revelation – Tree of life etc on either either side of the river in heaven
- Trees are mentioned 600 times in the bible-
- God loves them
- Christ works with trees as a carpenter, wood was valuable
- Christ die on a tree, of all possible Roman executions
- If a tree falls... God hears that tree, he hears every sparrow, he dresses every flower, all creation praises him

Matthew 7 – Judge not lest you be judged in what ever way you.. so too you.. speck in your eye
90% of Americans believe they are kinder than average
If we care about the environment, what is our foot print

Matthew ? – if you do this in love, you will be received

Good Samaritan
– loving your neighbour, foreign neighbours, unborn neighbours,
– man attacked is still alive, so no loophole in the law over of corpse
- Samaritan gets down off his donkey, where it is dangerous, he has resources

1. look in the mirror yourself, through the bible/book study to assure yourself of God's command to care
2. as a group, what we do together, as a church...
- This is the cancer prevention centre
- This can't be 'religion'

(Regional recycling, needed help from the prison)
Plastic bags – 'trying to save the bag trees', use canvas bags
Pampers – use cloth diapers and line dry
?Environment to breast cancer link
Transport – hybrids...
- 20% better mpg go slower
- Gandhi – more to life than seeing how fast you can get through it
Smaller houses share
Diet – eg coffee – if not sustainable
knock down rainforest for efficiency but need stacks of chemicals

God is Green – Crackus Drivewayus Michiganus (3 of 5)
Rob Bell, Mars Hill Bible Church 15/07/07

Caring for Creation is a Sanctity of Life issue
We could look at Genesis, the Psalms.. Psalm19, Revelation

Job 38, 39, 40
There is a profound lack of pragmatism in God's stance towards nature – Donkey, Storehouses etc
God takes great joy and delight in creation, just because it is,
Not because it makes good leather belts, not for the money you can make .. just because it is

Proverbs 8
– God's primary posture/realtionship towards the physical nature is not production/consumption but pleasure or celebration, he basks in the beauty, randomness
v4, v6 – wisdom calls out
v22 first of gods works before oceans and hills

not 'what can these humans do for me', but 'have you seen them!'
like flowers, noe one asks, given flowers, 'oh what does it do?'

random beauty of created order that exists and just is, is what we want to know is true of us,
that he loves us just as we are

Ephesians 1
- A God of pleasure is a hard concept, we're ok with a God of rules but pleasure?
v7 according to his good pleasure
loves us exactly as we are

Psalm 104 – God's provision, love of trees, our role cultivation, sustainability, bread sustains...
God's heart: that people, who God loves, would live in proper sustainable relationship with the earth that God loves. His intention is that the earth should feed us and feed our kids and feed our kids kids

We are not doing that.
- losing an acre and a half of rainforest per second
- 70 % of chinese rivers polluted unfit for human contact
- 4.6m people died from air pollution
- per year 50k species lost
- per day 63k dump trucks in US
- holiday season 5m tonnes, 4m of that bags and paper
- 14m pounds of rubbish into oceans last year
- 80% more trash that 15 years ago into 80% less landfills

This is not about scientific studies or the latest fads... it is because God has set out what a correct relationship should be.

Exodus 5
How did we get in this mess? - sin
Systematic slavery: turn the crank harder
Sin distorts relationships
vs We are to live with mutual respect and honour
We use people, leaving them worse off

Leviticus 25 – land must not be sold permanently, the lands it gods
This exploitation comes out of entitlement: that creation is ours to use, to exploit

John 18 – my kingdom is not of this world 'cosmos' [?definition]
'cosmos' – people? For God so loved
'cosmos' – physical creation – life here on earth
'cosmos' – system or empire opposed to god
- Walter Wink – use 'system' for world
“My Kingdom is not of this system”
- systems of exploitation and entitlement

eg. Oil addiction – what would happen if we used less?
A follower of Jesus lives with an awareness that there are other competing systems in this world

Matthew 6 – do not store up treasure...eye is the light of the body..
The 'eye' is a Jewish euphemism for greed/generosity
If good eye, generous – your life will be filled with light
..No one can serve two masters..
clothes, flowers, glory of creation
in context of greed/generosity

It will cost something if you take this seriously that God is Green.

God is Green – Towers and Tomatoes (4 of 5)
Rob Bell, Mars Hill Bible Church 22/07/07

Genesis 11 – Making bricks vs natural stones
Innovation, progress, how could we do this better
Bricks: higher, faster, cheaper technology
Brick is not the problem, but it gives power and channels for harmony or disharmony
Inflated sense of our own ability

What are we going to do with powers and talents?
v4 – so that we will make a name for ourselves - we will be gods
3 tiered view of the world earth, then up to the heavens and down to the pits

Psalm 20v7 – some trust in chariots (tanks?), some hope in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.
1. There are those who place the hope and protection in the stuff they have, dependant on their stuff so for them there is no transcendent higher being/power
2. Others who have maintained a sense of innocence, dependence, mystery to creation reliance on a God who is higher than anything we could create

Genesis 11
(Humour – God comes 'down' to see their 'big' tower)
What the brick does to them
it is possible for technology to separate us from important things
cuts us off from the cost of things
eg sushi air miles
Technology can isolate us from the source, cost and consequences
eg local food – tomatoes in winter
eg wearing a jumper from air-conditioned office
eg hermetically sealed cars, houses etc.

When you grow your own – you are connected to the earth to the weather etc
It does something to your soul, because it doesn't cut that connection, the connection to the God who brings things out of nothing.

Matthew 6v9give us today our daily bread – please keep me connected with the source of all things
'Localvores' – connections, relationships, people social fabric, families...
Give me my bread in such a way that I am connected and aware of how desperately we need you.
- If every family in America ate one locally grown meal a week – 800m barrels of oil would be saved.
- Average pasture to plate miles – 1200 miles

Pray: Save me from making towers
Technology will separate me and the brick will end up using me
Is it possible to use my bike, is it possible to walk
It is hard to consider the lilies at 70mph

Romans 1 - Since God's invisible power...clearly understood so that people are without excuse
Do you feel far from God?
We live in worlds that are isolated, insulated, incubated.. etc and then complain God is far

Less consumption – greater connection
Degrees of separation – cost and *cost*

God is Green – The New Seatbelt (5 of 5)
Rob Bell and Matt Krick, Mars Hill Bible Church 29/07/07

Leviticus 5 – The land must observe a Sabbath
Agriculture 101
have a relationship with the earth sustainable
2Chronicles 36 – exile for Sabbath not taken
2Chronices 7v14 if my people will humble themselves and ... I will heal their land

- 25% of energy bill from phantom power.
- Turn off off
- Consumer energy company – green energy plan
- CFL bulbs
- Recycling eg aluminium 95% less energy to recycle than to make new
- 1 ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 3 cubic yards of landfill 7000 gallons of water, 4200kwh, 390 gallons of oil, 60lbs air pollutants
- Recycling paper at the mars hill mall
-Junkmail [?] donaconsumers off mailing list

- 1acre of land can produce 50,000lbs of tomatoes, 40,000lbs potatoes, 30,000lbs carrots, or 250 lbs of beef.
- 2500 gallons of water 1lbs of beef
- 25 gallons of water – 1lb of wheat
- How is meat raised?

- Ethanol as a bio-fuel:affects the global poor as corn price goes up
(how biofuels could starve the poor.doc)
- 25gallons ethanol – 450lbs corn – calories for 1person for a year
- soy+corn – water pollution, soil erosion, nitrogen runoff, pesticides, etc
- habitat loss if corn production..
- corn – ethanol requires fossil fuels in conversion
(*who killed the electric car) (pellet stove)

- habitat for humanity
- ecocell
- rate it green – triple bottom line
- eartheasy – earth friendly cleaners
- g-diapers
- flouresta
*for the beauty of the earth
*living the good life on god's earth
*serve god ,save the planet
*saving god's green earth
*theology of ecology – matt krick

There was a change in attitudes to seat belt when it was presented as a life or death issue
So to here, we need an attitude change. This is a life and death issue

God is Green
Libby, Trent Vineyard 30/10/07
(not available)

St Augustine, Jonathan Edwards quotes
(Picture of beauty)
Psalm 104
Genesis it was very good
Creation out of love, the world as an over flow of their love
* Serve god, save the planet
Leviticus 25 – the land is his

Tyre inflated, energy efficient light bulbs
- living more simply

Ecology of Church (1 of 3) - What is the place of church in the world?
Nick Sutton, Coventry Vineyard 13/1/08

Church as a living organism:
How do we relate with each other and those outside
Ecology as study of relationship to natural and built environment.
'oikos' – internal/external ecology of church
Relationships – significant connections

Churches are becoming more disconnected from society
50,000 churches in UK
We underestimate the power of the local church

'Niche' - every living thing has its place
Why do we do church? What is its place in society?
(Congregation: tell the truth/ represent Jesus/ fellowship / equip, encourage, express / make disciples / flavour / preserve society / salt and light / see god's kingdom come.)
NS: the church exists for mission

One of the biggest threats to ecosystems is fragmentation or disintegration
people dying alone...
Do you know you neighbours?
Do you know a significant fact about that neighbour?
(Map exercise) neighbour next plus one
How are you impacting the place you live?
What are we doing to love difficult people in church?

Ephesians – all about relationships, god, man, husband, father
Eugene Peterson – “God is doing reconciliation and restoration...[?]”
- imperative that we join in vigorously
- pursue a long range plan
- how is god bringing order and restoration through us..

Erwin Mcmanus (LA mosaic) “In a balanced ecosystem the church has a proper relationship to God, one another and an unbelieving world”

Interconnectedness of 'Love God' and 'Love people'
How are we doing this?

- WorshipRomans 12v1,2 – take your every day ... life and place it before god as an offering, don't become so adjusted to your culture that you fit in without noticing.. Message
- Obedience – serving, sharing, love people
- Towards shalom - to affect the lives of people
- lead people to Jesus, develop and equip together
- Empower people for a purpose

Brian McLaren – “we are deligamented”
Religion – to be re-ligamented

Community and Creation (Women's Breakfast)
Miranda Harris (Arocha), St Aldates, Oxford, 17/11/07

Technology and our connections

Neil PostmanAmusing Ourselves to Death
“Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television, no matter what is depicted from what point of view, the over-arching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure ... even news etc.. news show is a format for entertainment not for education, reflection of catharsis”

Lauren WinnerReal Sex
“Today some people think of home as a warm place, some as a cold place of abuse, some think of them simply as houses where people co-habit... a place in between the places that matter, the work places where we earn the money pay for those lifestyle things, phones tv etc..”

Areas of broken relationship – 1. god-man, 2. man-man, 3. man-nature

Important to differentiate the 'environment' or 'creation'

Acts 17 – We are placed. God places us in time and place
We are not born into a vacuum, we are born into a place and time

Eugene Peterson “The resurrection plunges us into relationship with brothers and sisters we never knew we had. We are in community whether we like it of not.”..... “We are born into community, we are not solitary, self-sufficient individuals”
- Community is the setting Christ is at play
- With people we don't approve of or like..

- We are not as liberty to chose all the time
- We can lower our masks of composure
- We have Christ in us the hope of glory
- Allow him to transform us, then we leak out to other people

Broken relationship with nature
Are we carrying out our discipleship as if we are in relationship with the Lord of Nature/Creation?
vs Steven Vinger: “Enlightenment's view of nature as something to be overcome and mastered.”
To meet our needs of as something that speaks of god?

Environmental Missionaries
Peter Harris (Arocha), St Aldate's, Oxford, 18/11/07

Acts 17v22-34

- The environment is the issue of our times, driver of refugees, disease, species extinction and of these might be motive enough for Christian involvement but more than this...
- The environmental movement has gone down the root of guilt, consciously promoting this method...
- This has resulted in a green-lash, because people simple cannot handle the guilt
(vs Grace)

Romans 8 - new creation, in the womb of this one, these are the pains of child birth

Agenda of the church should not be driven by the whimsical issues of the front pages.
She who marries the spirit of the age, quickly finds her a widow.

In Church there should be a cheerful madness!

Problem 1
- In the charismatic movement's DNA there has been a problem in its reading of eschatology.
- DL Moody was not a great theologian, believed this world was blasted and that all we must do is preach etc.. try to save souls off this sinking ship..
- vs if renewed creation, there is a continuity.
- It is our job to show what this kingdom means.

Problem 2
- Disconnected fractured society and individualistic children of the enlightenment even in our theology.
- God does love you, he does offer you healing, but it is not all about you
-- You cannot love Rembrandt and trash his paintings

Christ etc reconnects us with God, with each other and with nature

Throwing away... where is away in God's creation?
Psalm 139 – where can I go away from your spirit.

Only God changes us.

Paul in Athens notices their idols
In the west we belong to a genetically modified church, the DNA of our age is one of materialism, and individualism.. Our society's DNA gets patched into our church, there are churches preaching “stuff =happiness”. Where as [affluenza etc] the more you have typically makes you no more happy.

We have read scripture creation blind..

Reasons to care for creation from Acts17
- v24 God who made the world, Paul references God from creation, it is how we know who he is
- We have to detox from consumerism, we are so connected with people in the world, we share the same father, creator planet.

To live a real life, is to live in his world.

Abusing time and place is abuse of creation, we use things up, [spending capital, rather than returning on a borrowed investment]

(googlevideo – whyshouldchristianscareforcreation)

Do not be loaded with guilt, be grateful for the good, for the trees
Be defined by Joy and Gratitude

Psalm 104 in wisdom God made it all

This is not bolt on ethics, it is a response to the Glory of God
Go for environmental excellence as a witness to God's heart for the world.

The Neglected Assurance (1 of 4)
Tri, Boise Vineyard 27/02/05

(Involve the kids in the service)

Trip up to log cabin alone – up mountain
--> epiphany that God must exist
Power of the wilderness and solitude
Haven't I seen the face of the Lord
A realisation of a higher power

(Story of Noah's ark balloon and message when planting Boise Vineyard)

- How do we know that God is real? How are you sure?
- How do you know that he sent his some, that he save you, that the bible is true?

1John John saw Jesus, this is a first hand apostolic witness, testimony
We can read that Jesus fulfilled ~200 prophecies..
As Christians we have stood on the word,
We have looked at the Greek and Hebrew, we have gone through archaeology
Bringing substance to what we believe

Hebrews 11 – Faith is the assurance of the things unseen
Hoped for: eternal life, god's existence
We have 'conviction' due to evidence

(1) So one point of assurance is the Word of God

(2) 1John3v24 – work of the Spirit he gave us
.. and this is how we know that he is in us, us in him
that we just know it in our knower...
Ecclesiastes – eternity set in the hearts of man

(3) A transformed life,
Changed attitudes, Sanctification, walking into holiness
How we react to life..our behaviour is an indicator

1John 3v2 ..but we know... we shall be like him... you know he appeared to
v10 this is how we know
v14 we know because we love
v16 this is how we know what love is

(4) An assurance often neglected, especially in recent years

Romans 1v18 The wrath of God is being revealed... those who suppress the truth by their wickedness
v19 Men who suppress because God has made it plain to them ... men are without excuse
- God has revealed himself through creation, but we have messed it all up and people started worshipping nature
Through the 60s we watched this happen.
Much contemporary Christianity is positioned in reaction to that, against the New Age, even Animism etc..

We should view the bible through the lens of this fourth assurance, consider the environment at every mention of creation.
- we have neglected an assurance and we have neglected a responsibility

The environment has been taken over by the liberal church
- As with ministry to the poor we have got to earn back the right to work in environmentalism
- Ministry to the poor was taken away because the church turned its back on it.. etc also in civil rights, slavery..

Even Christians who care, have divorced it from church because they don't know where/how ...because of perception.

We have to come with repentance
We have to build a ministry over time, it has to become part of our lifestyle over time.
We have a heart of servanthood, it needs to be turned on to this issue.
Beyond just doing recycling ourselves, --> service
A point of education, point of discipleship

The Church has bought False Theologies:
- 'Manifest Destiny' – that its all ours to use up
No sense of management – so we are paying for that.. extinct buffalo etc
vs heritage, legacy issues
- Its all going to burn anyway – bad theology

---> We need to be a radical middle

3 objectives:
(1) Stewardship and Discipleship
- An issue of biblical truth
- Reclaim the environment, synonymous with creation
- Consider Noah's ark: What did God save there?

- Heritage and Legacy
- What are we passing on to the kids?
- God exists, God loves, God has a plan for you
- How are you going to leave things better?
- Leaving healthy kids, sow biblical truth into future generations//

(need for expertise)

Convictions of environmentalists in the 60s faded and sold out to become the yuppies of the 80s because their truth is relative, no one can agree, there is [no epistemological anchor, no unifying ideology]

vs we know the creator, we have to recognise our responsibility, and pursue unity with the global church over our worship of one God to then make it outwork into a global Christian response to the issue of the environment

eg. 1/3 less use of wilderness areas than 10 years ago
?because of broken families..
- people aren't getting out there together in nature
- seeing God in nature changes you
- part of discipleship is teaching kids to play less computer games

Projects – think about the local environment..

(2) Evangelism
The attitudes we have to the environment are a barrier to the gospel... This is a door to evangelism. People looking for a church that cares for the environment.

(3) A pathway for other churches
If my people ... call on my name.. heal their land..

- Biblical
- Service and Blessing the Community
- Kingdom Mentality – upside down etc

Where on Earth? (2 of 4)
Mike, Boise Vineyard 06/03/05

Genesis 1-11
Rhythm in the writing writing.
Stress not to miss forest for the trees, not immediately to be viewed through our modern western scientific lens
Hebrew thought not so abstract – ?concrete

Hebrews 11v3 – Universe created at God's command... by faith we believe... this is a faith issue

Genesis is foundational, stands at the beginning of the Bible because Creation is a fundamental theological foundation. God's continuing ordering and blessing at every level is creational. Only in relationship to creation can God's subsequent acts through Israel be understood. The placement of creation show God's intentions with Israel are universal in scope, and that God's work in redemption, serves creation, the entire creation that labours under the pervasive effect of sin.

(Paraphrase of Genesis 1-11, 5 stories, 7 key points)
(6 - minus Noah (third sermon))

(1) We live in a God-made world
Does your life reflect that truth?
Is your life any different compared to those who say we came from nowhere, with no purpose, that we came from mud, and there is no intention in our being here?
Connections between theology of the Trinity and environmental discussions
Interrelated community defined as love
Need to move from man-centred life to we haven't made it, we can't save it

Psalms 148 – Praise him, Praise him
caught up in what the Earth is already doing – worhsip, all heven and creation engaged in praising
God made the world... how do we fit in here?

Genesis1v28 – Subdue and Rule
Genesis 2v15
'Eved' – Serve, slave or servant
'Jamar' – Keep, Know, Protect, as in a sheep fold, know them by look by smell etc.
Lovingly cherish these animals

How do we rule? Like Jesus – serving, washing feet
God, how can I wash the feet of creation today, not how can I wash my feet in creation.

(2) We live in a cosmos not a chaos
Comforting rhythm of ordered creation:
God said.. and there was evening.. and it was good,
God said.. and there was evening.. and it was good..
God help me to move in the unforced rhythms of grace, that you have put in creation.

(3) We live in a related world
a mesh, we are right in the midst of it
we are called to have a significant role.

Psalms 104 – Praise the Lord oh my soul – he make wind, fire, foundations, makes the deep at his word... he make the bread and the wine
The Trees of the Lord.
They are his, we are tenants, not 'this land is my land, this land is your land..'

How involved is God in this thing anyways?
How many of us live with a practical deism that God wound this up and it sort of runs itself?
He feeds the lions, makes trees for the birds to nest in, wine to gladden th hearts of management

(4) We live in a world where peace is primordial
Jesus has the last word, he is alpha and omega
Sin does not have to define creation or define us

Romans 8 – creation subjected to frustration
we become agents of liberation

(5) We live in a world where human ingenuity is not going to answer earth's ills
Babel: maybe they were building so he'll never flood us again..
Hard for us to hear now, when technology is everything.
Vs his foolishness is greater than our wisdom.
Where the answer maybe found: a fellowship of friends, children of Abraham

(6) Children of Abraham are the answer
Who will leave their walled up city lives and breath the prayer “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth..”
God places us at the crossroads to be a blessing.

Agents of Change (3 of 4)
Tri, Boise Vineyard 13/03/05

(Bumper stick – “The Environment: God's Creation, Our Responsibility”)
Discipleship is not just cognitive, its hands and feet, its participation – as we have begun with the poor, and mission to other countries...

The environment is more than a topic to teach for a few weeks and then move on, this is a value to bring into our very being, [our DNA]

Administration needed for a people with a heart for this, the enemy will paralyse us with the scale of the problem. God will help you take the first step

Genesis 6-9
Noah: God calls him to the supernatural to build a boat never seen before..
Imagine him talking to his sons to cut up the first piece of Goeffer wood into planks...
He saw god in the plan he was faithful.
Hebrews 11 – Noah is a hero of the faith doing thing based on the unseen
Romans 1 – Righteousness that comes by faith - by faith we don't become overwhelmed

Genesis 6-9 a long story.. a picture of the redemptive work of God
- God is a god who takes us out of the gutter and restores us
- Who is on the ark? *Faithful man* and *creation* - because god wants to save man and his creation and man is the agent of change by which god wants to do it

- The rainbow has been stolen from us by all kinds of groups, it is Gods covenant between him and the earth and every living creature. We need to take this rainbow back
we need to lead by example, if god has called us to this. Noah is our example

Genesis 6-9
God is calling people to be agents of change, people God calls out to say 'I want your life and your life together to make a difference'...

(1) – God brings revelation of the problem, a realisation of the call on them. A vision bound to fail without god. A realisation of the immensity of the problem. - hence despair of environmentalist and china's progress etc- God is calling you to one step

(2) – God is calling you
Build a church that loves people

(3) – God gives a plans, he gives Noah detail.
He is into salvation, conservation, redemption. He is making all things new
He often/always gives revelation to people who feel inadequate, to imperfect men, that we should not pursue it with pride
eg. to Gideon hiding in a hole: I've got a plan for your life against the Midianites...

(4) – There is a physical response
2Chronicles 7v14 – if my people will repent etc then I will hear them, forgive and heal their land.

This problem is too big, we need to repent of our unbelief and bring God in.
Then, as Moses crossing the Red Sea... stop praying start walking!
Zaccariah building temple.. dormant for 15 years.
Prophets haggai and zacc – who despises the day of small things?

God is calling a people. Doing the right thing makes a difference. Serve your city.

Genesis 9v11 – responsibility and accountability
we are accountable for sanctity of life, for care of the animals etc
we are pro-life, God loves life

Deuteronomy 22 – if you find a nest of birds. Take some eggs but leave some
- There is wisdom towards management contained in the Bible
- If you do this you will live a long and healthy life, things will go well for you in the land.
v8 Covenant of rainbow

Environmental Ripple Effect (4 of 4)
Tri, Boise Vineyard 20/03/05

(Leaving the world a better place lecture series)
(home – city – wilderness)

Ripple effect: change in our lives then moves outwards.
We are connected to nature: it sustains us, we impact it

Let your environment be changed with the motive of the love of God before we try to change the world's environment

Romans 8 - Creation has been groaning, Creation waits for the sons of god to be revealed.

If there is to be environmental reformation, it has to start in the Heart of management when we know who we are in Christ the spirit will all those gaps, we know our sonship – we know all that he has done..

Environmentalism begins in the heart.
What is the environmental condition of me heart?
Sin contaminates the heart.

Mark 12 – love God, love your neighbours love with our whole being, as we understand we can love ourselves

The heart impacts the environmental condition of the Mind
What environmental clean up needs to take place in my mind?

Romans 12 – Christ came to transform our mind that we might know God's will for our lives.

Body- therefore I urge you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices...
he has brought freedom that you might reach out beyond yourself.

How do you steward your body?
Most abuse to your body comes from bad thinking and a bad perspective of self
Your body doesn't belong to you.
It belongs to God

2Corinthians 7 - Since we have these promises lets us keep ourselves from everything that contaminates and pollutes body and spirit, outward and inward perfecting holiness out of reverence for god.
- We now have obligations to look after these things that don't belong to you

1Corinthians 6v18 – flee from sexual immorality, it sins against your body, temple of the Holy Spirit, you are not your own, you were bought at a price.
- Changes what we eat, how we exercise etc
- It is the vehicle by which we might do great things for god.
- Are we tending the garden of our body god has given us?

(1) Heart – (2) Mind – (3) Body – Beyond

- Ripple effect – (4) Family/Home - eg. if your desk isn't clean, it affects your work.
Malachi 4 – peace in the home or else..
John the baptist preached repentance

(Pictures in the outdoors exhibition)

Acts 5v32(5) Church - All the believers were of one heart and one mind and felt what they had was not their own
- If we can't love people in church, how can we love beyond
- Powerful witness and God's favour
- A new reality of stewardship
- We go out together, we express with our bodies, cleaning up etc
- So have joy! Make your church environment good

(6) Your Community and Neighbourhood
- love yourself, you are a miracle --> give it away
- love them, serve them, clean things up

(7) The World.
- Once we can look beyond ourselves, our own needs
- When we involved Christ in our struggle to be happy, to stay married, to etc.. it literally frees us up to love the world
- it is for freedom that you have been set free.
- No longer in bondage, no longer paralysed, our desk is clear, we have cleared our hearts and minds of the toxicity..

Pray: God thank you for my life, my body, my family, my church, my community. Thank you for creation.

There is no such thing as Christian ethics (1 of 5)
Jason Clark, Sutton Vineyard 03/18/07

God is light, if we are in him, his blood purifies us from all sin
The Christian life is about entering into the light

This is about a way of life
This is about truth vs confusion and uncertainty in environmental issues
We need to step back from specific 'environmental' issues

Problem with Christian Ethics: it becomes an add-on
If God is Light etc.. to be a Christian is to be ethical
In so many ways we live the same as non-Christians.
How have we got here? By viewing ethics as an add on.

(1) – The Christian faith has been dominated by thinking in our heads,
- Out of modernism, rationality and 'good thinking'.. we have tried to prove Christianity
- vs in many ways there is a mystery to our faith.
- If we submit to this idea that Christianity can be proved and is *all* rational, it becomes about believing the right things *only*, intellectually assenting in your head and nothing to do with what you do.
becomes very private
also reduced to something you believe in your head to go to heaven when you die
doing the stuff in between becomes optional

(2) – Genesis1v28 fill the earth and subdue it
- We have been believing in the wrong way and we have been believing wrong things.
- Misappropriating the bible to justify subduing other cultures, subduing dominion, empire.
- “The earth is something to use up”
- “If the world is going to be flushed away when Jesus comes back. We've got to save souls not trees”
- “If we use up the earth Jesus will come back sooner!”
- We have to look at how the things we believe as Christians allow us to destroy the planet quite comfortably eg. Slavery: we look back and think how could those people think they were Christian and keep slaves?? so now how could those Christian in 2007 still drive cars? CSLewis calls this chronological snobbery

(3) – We have a faith dominated by consumerism and commodification.
- There used to be a connection between who we were and what we did eg Neil Smith – Neil son of a smith, out of a family of smiths... this has been swept away to be defined as we are what we consume. This is not all back, but we have to be aware of how and why things happen now.
- Money disconnects you, we have not interest in who people are of what they do.

Karl Marx – “We buy food from nowhere and wear clothes that nobody made.”

- The market has no interest in letting us know who made things from what in what conditions paid what amount...

- The ritual of shopping does something to our souls.
- We are disconnected. eg. Moby – Negro-Spiritual – completely disconnected in the way we value things – are they cool? are they cheap? .. Primark disposable clothing (!)

- We consume action,
- We sign a petition, we buy a stop-the-traffik t-shirt etc. We buy a ticket to make poverty history concert, we don't know how to do things without consuming and having a good time.
- Is god bringing stuff into my life that need. Does Christianity exist to make me feel good? We are rich, we think we are poor ---> status anxiety – we gave £300m to the tsunami, vs £300m trades in one day's racing at Cheltenham racecourse.
We see stuff on tv, think there are other people to help, think we can't do anything...

- We consume church
- Kingdom of God is not the consumer dream.
- When this life becomes about having more, time collapses, the future will pay for itself
- Problem with Christians now is that we are trying to live two lives now: eternal life collapsed into this life
- If we don't life forever [young] now, there is no God

- There is no ideology now [?because there are no martyrs because we are living forever now]
- vs Wilberforce gave his life to an ideology
We have no politicians giving their career to end poverty
Politics supports our consumer way of life.
No ideology, nothing to die for?
When it comes to ideology, the church petitions against.. homosexuality? What about the poor?1
Church is about providing a service,
99% of people have a Christian burial
vs only 7% (2%) connected to church

Matthew 10v38 Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Unless we address the issue of consumerism we will consume environmental Christianity

- What do we believe? What is the gospel?
- How do we believe? Just in your head?
- How do we practice of our belief?
- Is green Christianity just an add-on?

Slaves of Jesus (2 of 5)
Jason Clark, Sutton Vineyard 25/03/07

- Wilberforce – believes his faith and does his faith.
- After 3hours speech “you may chose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.”

- 2 main areas of contemporary slavery – forced labour and forced prostitution
- 277m slaves in the world today
- $9.5b gnerated
- 2m children involved

1 Corinthians 7 we are all supposed to be slaves to Jesus. A root of the problem. Those of you who think you are free from this, those of you in the west...

There is a malaise. The 15-35 demographic think they are teenagers and don't take life seriously. When we want to take action there may not be plenty of time, things are urgent right now.

This is not one person:
Wilberforce.. he is standing on the shoulders of the Quakers, of Paul, etc some of us believe we can be a Christian on our own. Christianity is all about doing life together. Other Christians motivated Wilberforce, encouraged him to explore his gifting, those at the Clapham dinner etc
[Individualism begets lone ranger Christians] who run into the problem of thinking I am not that hero Wilberforce..

The Kingdom is all about the little we can give.

This is all possible in the freedom of Jesus. We are all salves, we must exchange slaveries to one under Jesus, that or we will be taken down by addictions etc..

Redemption and Stewardship (3 of 5)
Jason Clark, Sutton Vineyard 15/04/07

Romans 8v19-25
Everything is connected. Creation, all of that out there
Creation is waiting for us, the Sons of God, not waiting for Jesus to come back but for God's will to be revealed through us.
Redemption – like restoring a broken down car..
The things we do have reverberations for eternity

Part of God's rescue plan ... us as part of nature us in our connection as stewards...

Dallas Willard – Divine Conspiracy:
“Kingdom of Heaven is the air we breathe..”
“This life is preparation of eternity”
...Well done Jason, now look after a few solar systems...
Do we have this view of eternity?

Ripple Effect – your life has eternal consequence
(1) Heart – what is the environmental condition of my heart?
Mk12 – Is your heart polluted? Are you squandering you soul life? Is it not all available to love God? Are you tending well the garden of you heart?

(2) Mind – Romans 12 – be transformed by the renewing of your mind...
vs if it feels good, do it.
Unthinking passions, fleeting feelings etc.
What do we let into our minds? What do we then dream and hope for?...

(3) Body – our bodies are good
vs Bad Christian attitudes to dance, music, sex ...
Things are meant for good.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made
Do we think of ourselves and our bodies in those terms?

(4) What does the garden of our homes look like?
Is the atmosphere full of anger and bitterness?
Or is it ordered around Christ?
What are the rhythms and activities?
Is it a place to learn the purposes of Jesus in connection with other people?

(5) Church
vs vampire Christians who suck life out.
vs consumer Christians
How can church exist to reorient our attitudes beyond ourselves?
The church is the body. Bring our lives, families into the light of others.
Doing life together.
god blesses us to bless the body, our experiences our wisdoms..
Holy Spirit turns up when two or more are living life together

(6) Neighbourhood
Do we consider our space/house etc just a temporary space that we hope to trade up for a better one?
Our minds... what do we dream for?
Do we hope to make our place better, do we serve our locality? Or do we hope for somewhere else or that the council sort it out? Do we see the good, do we look for God's purposes in our place?
Why was the early church so influential?
First 20-30years in Jerusalem..
Black plague came and the Christians were the one group said they would stay.
How are we doing community involvement? Not even picking up litter?!

(7) The World
God's plan for the whole world. A vision to see beyond ourselves..
Bill Hybels: “The [local] church is the hope for the world.”

Why God Values Creation (4 of 5)
Jason Clark, Sutton Vineyard 22/04/07

As a church we are not trying to solve this scientifically, devise some saving technology...
How do we approach the environment? What has Christianity got to offer? Is it just an add on?
You can have social justice etc etc without Jesus
So what does the gospel offer? Where is Jesus in this? What is a biblical approach?

The bible: Garden at the start, Adam first gardener
When Jesus is resurrected Mary mistakes him for the gardener.
Creation is groaning..
Revelation 21 – a restored heaven and earth (not new new, destroying the old)
a renewed creation, a new garden.

(1) Issue of resource and provision [our understanding of God's provision vs greed/disconnection]
eg. there's enough food for everyone on the planet, and people go hungry
That people go hungry speaks of our disconnection with God, and with each other.
We use up so much. The planet will run out, we are strip mining the earth?

(2) Accountability [for action with regards to the environment.]
Deuteronomy 22v6,7 If you come across a birds nest...
Advice on stewardship, on game keeping
If.. then it will go well with you in the land
There are consequences..

(3) Blessing [What do we consider God's blessing to be? Free things?]
Thin Spaces, where God seems close: mountain tops, new born babies
We can find god in poverty stricken etc.. vs we often associate god's blessing with a nice car, a nice house and a nice holiday
So pray: that we see God's purposes in the place you are, how can you be a part of his blessing. How can we find thin spaces on our street.

(4) Pass it down – [ripples from your own lifestyle and attitude - a culture of sustainability, a community]
What are we teaching our kids?
Are we teaching them to pray or to get by and ignore God?
Do we live the consumer story? - Find a good job, get a nice house, save for retirement?
Vs seek ye first the kingdom
What inheritance do we give to our kids.

Seeing the wood from the trees (5 of 5)
Jason Clark, Sutton Vineyard 29/04/07

What are God's expectations, how then should we live?
Micah 6v8 he has shown you what is good, act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our god

(Facts and figures...)

Complexity theory: complex problems generate complex solutions which themselves generate further complex problems -- we end up doing nothing or we hope there is a solution that will deny the problems and make it all go away.

John 3v16 – God so loved the *world* -- we must have an integrated spirituality
God cares, we should.
If the environment is an add-on to our faith we have an inadequate faith in an inadequate god

(1) Go to the bible – what do you say about me and the world, what am I called to do.
(2) Wisdom – Job 28v12 What is wisdom? Wisdom is alive [?Prophetic] It is God's perspective on a situation.. Peer reviewed science and intergovernmental panel on climate change... [?link here]

Accountability – 1 Peter 4v17 time for judgement to begin with the family of God
It is not about comparing ourselves to others or non-Christians etc.
This is part of our faith. We do this because we are Christians.

Mother Theresa – “Small things done in love change much”
What if Mother Theresa or Wilberforce stayed at home?
These things change things, inspiring further changes
If global warming is not happening but we live out our lives faithfully to god we will have lost nothing.

Micah 6v8 act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

Justice and the Earth
Steve Nicholson, Evanston 12/02/07

Why should Christians care about the environment?

(1) God reveals himself in creation.
Romans 1v20 – Since the beginning... Gods invisible qualities
Nature speaks of God0
If we disregard the value and beauty of nature, we disregard God, his beauty
We disfigure the image, the pointers to God

(2) Creation matters to god
Luke 12v6 – Sparrows for a penny but not forgotten by God
God cares about sparrows, what about the rest of creation

(3) God provides for the earth
Psalms 104v10 – He gives water to the animals in streams...
he is actively involved, he has created intricate systems..

(4) God has made man responsible
Genesis 1v27 rule over etc..
The earth is the Lord's on loan to us..
Just as your bank, who keeps your money, has to give you interest and a report... parable of the talents.
Matthew 25v14 – God wants a return on his investment. This is not damage mitigation. Have we brought God pleasure? Have be brought it on to a a greater...

(5) Jesus died to redeem all creation.
Col 1v1-20 in him all things hold together

(6) the poor suffer the most at environmental degredation
the voiceless and powerless make good dumping grounds.

- Overuse and Negative by-products of luxury
- Overuse – we are currently using 20%more than the earth can sustain – of natural resources
30years animal down 40%
coal gas oil inc 700% in last 40 years
- By-products – waste, CO2 etc

10steps you can take

different lightbulds

reduce, reuse, recycle

share your house, downsize your house

fix, reuse

insulate your house

be thrifty with your heating, wear a jumper

do without your car

buy energy efficient appliances

turn down your heater
don't leave the tap running

ask for an energy audit from your energy supplier

become an informed steward

We are not here as consumers, we are here as stewards.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

note to pete: cu, fusion, 247, india

ah yes, these public/private blog/conversations are funny, indeed before the internet an unprecedented way of talking to an audience of one plus anyone.

i've just come to the end of a semester here, with its associated hand-ins, and in this weekend break, though we have already been set stuff to be getting on with, but while deadlines loom less imminently, i am brewing a summary of various christian environmental sermon series i have been surveying- sutton/boise/coventryvineyards/staldatesoxford/marshill..

it would perhaps be clarifying if i gave a faithful narrative of all my dealings with (mr wickham, ehem) cu and fusion and 24/7..

the set up here is different from oxbridge, central meeting being the main emphasis, followed up by groups in hall "9.20 groups", (after ?book chapter 9 verse 20). in first year halls i was - and christians do not believe in coincidence - put in a block of 13 students in which there were 4.5 (one changed uni in the second term) fired up christians, at a time when christians are estimated at 2% of studentdom. we were all sporadically involved in the cripps hall 9.20, whose attendance was usually no more than 10. the group, I feel, was unsure what exactly it was there for and i think more fruitfully for us four, jon, james, alex and myself met on wednesday mornings forman-time, prayer before breakfast.

the cu here runs its friday evening meeting "equip" (a name changethat was contentiously coined at some point in my first year amidstcuriously public conversation on facebook:!)
we are a big cu ~350 with usually 200+ on a friday evening, we get in the big names, the vaughn robertses and so on. the cu also puts on apologetic lectures by the same friday evening speaker at the lunchtime, of which i have attended emm, one. the cu runs the pure course, a course on christian sexuality written by uccf, and once a year puts on a mission week. beyond this there are prayer meetings and international student work - globe cafe at a local church.

a good quick summary of fusion and their loveyouruni scheme is here:

it was not until second year that i really found fusion, fusion in nottingham mostly coming out of trent vineyard where its student small groups are affiliated to fusion. however i joined a regular smallgroup with real live adults and locals in, but i began an interactionwith the fusion lot and their resources and things. i went to the fusion national weekend in oxford last year and this year. i find their vision compelling, as the groups are dynamic and accountable, honest and flexible. theirs is a model that seems just less 'religious', and also one that is based in churches and so more grounded. following 24/7 (which i will put in a paragraph about momentarily) i have drawn closer to the fusioners here, as we set up a permanent prayer room and meet together weekly to pray as part of that. fusion are more open to the spirit and the charismatic game. more 'emergent' compared to the cu's more conservative orthodoxy. jason clark, who's blog and pod i would recommend highly is the leader of a vineyard church in south london, that has wrestled with emergent issues and his sympathy and critique of the thinking at the heart of fusion etc is insightful.

-the cu's 'big meeting' emphasis could be seen as set in a modernist paradigm, idolatrous, and anathema to the open passages for conversation in postmodern culture where a distrust of such frames of front speaker, proclaimed truth and big organisation is rife. big meetings run up against all the problems that 'big church' struggles with, failings that the 'emergent church' has documented at length. big meetings proliferate nominalism, promote and a show-put-on /goods-and-services consumer model, big meetings lose you in a crowd, and effect a hierarchical model which moves responsibility from the every disciple to the anointed few.

there's a tension here, and i would err on the side of the fusion model, if mostly for the damage i see the cu doing with its sledgehammer approach to unity, doctrine, and tradition.

i, like you, love the cu. james, who i'm now living with, is the president and we see eye to eye on most things, he is someone who i have the greatest respect for and when i see the rigorously biblical and accountable way they go about discipleship training in his church up here, i sometimes think the young churches lose something significant in their reaction against old/conservative church. the cu loves jesus, and the cu does make disciples for christ, and the cu does well to maintain a consensus over central parts of christian doctrine, the cross etc. if and when i discuss the shortcomings of the cu it is mostly for the model they adopt, it is to say that there is more, more love, more unity, more of the spirit, and that the messy but beautiful power of that spirit is stifled by trying to put it into a box along with other tick box doctrines.

a couple of things, the cu here in first year sent out an emaillisting all the organisations it did *not* work with which saddened me, and it included fusion, whose db is indistinguishable from the uccf one.

their model of mission week is an expensive model that is largely not connecting with students, it is adding to the cacophony of religious noise on campus, its tone is often judgemental, and its message tends towards a say-a-prayer-to-get-to-heaven-when-you-die. i would say its not working, but when i say this it is not judgementally, i am not leading crowds to christ, and i don't know that fusion is either, but the cu is aggressively going through the motions of 'evangelism' uncritically, if god up and left tomorrow, i'm sure we could keep running cu events for quite some time, it is a risk averse model, a secessionist model, a lowest common denominator model, and for all that an expensive model that may even be missing central parts of what it is to be christian, to be in community and to lead others into a walk with christ. i offer all this with a humility that may not be conveyed in writing, as i am as limited and confused as the next, these are my observations thati'm grateful you let me process it out loud as it were.

over christmas 2006 i read red moon rising, and felt strongly that we should do this as a student thing in nottingham, for unity between churchs in the cu and for the establishing of a culture of prayer. i visited a 247 house in london that was running while i was doing some work down there over christmas, its just an amazing thing going on there. so anyways, toing and froing, i cleared my room and we ran one there for a week in february and god was so in it, people just appeared and helped set up and things, it was weird.
the vision was that with a cu of 3-400 students if each of us prayed for an hour a month we could pray without ceasing forever, like the moravians of redmoonrising. obviously i wasn't about to move out of my room indefinitely, but i wanted to set in place the idea of a potential culture of continual prayer. having been fairly regular at the monday morning cu prayer, it had been clear that prayer was not a priority for more than a dozen of the cu-ers..

the cu got on board and it was so encouraging, and given the change in stance of the cu - being told later that emily, now a student worker at vineyard, had proposed a 247 for the cu a few years ago when she was a student and had been put down in no uncertain theological terms.. admittedly i hadn't gone through the cu exec and i was just ploughing on with a 247 in my room if i had to fill all 168 hours by myself.

i did get this a bit later, indirectly from a friend of a friend's father's church:

"Take for example the practice, which the Christian Union at my son's university [nottingham] did the other month- of having a rota of 24hours of prayer. It was arranged that for every hour some student would be praying. And so a student put on his alarm clock to wake himup at 2.30 am, so he could go to a specially designated prayer room to pray- except he didn't really pray, he was far to sleepy. But it looked good. And 3am! Surely God will warm to that type of devotion?Why should we think that God would be more impressed to hear sleepyhalf formed prayers at three o clock in the morning rather than alert meaningful prayers at 3 o clock in the afternoon? By the way, this also meant that many of the students were too tired to study the following day- which is hardly a good witness. To be frank that is Christian paganism."

I don't know what you make of that, there is some validity in arguing against praying at silly o'clock but I get uncomfortable engaging this argument. It suddenly becomes personal and quickly questions the entire belief system, even the salvation of the other which seems entirely contrary to the unifying efforts of the enterprise in the first place. I did say in jest after hearing this that Jesus, far from having to study the next day, was up all night in the garden, before he was 'hardly a good witness' before the whole of history on the cross.

one could well come back at the accusations with all the great things going on in the 247 movement, the biblical imperatives to pray and continually, and further a sociocultura/theological observation regarding the demise of organised ritual and rhythm and the church's damaging assimilation of that, and the potential for remedial work by even trivial things like praying continually in this way. i'm cautious to be confrontive in this way, for better or worse.

in all, i feel i am siding with a a view of christianity that says the kingdom is in breaking (dallas willard/derek morphew), that creation *is* important, that everything is spiritual (rob bell), weare engaged as agents of redemption, etc. brian mclaren, and the vineyard scheme of things.. I really want to grasp what a view of the christian life as a whole-person thing entails. i think my environmental thinking is the catalyst or lens for all my other theological pondering, if god is burning all this up... given that i don't think he is... what do we do between being 'saved' and the timewe die?

i'm conscious that those various authors have been used to condone liberal, and certainly non-db, views of christ, truth, salvation, heaven etc. but i'm trying to look beyond what seem on the blogs to be petty political sniping at these people, and try to see what is true in what they are questioning about the contemporary church, and how i can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. perhaps my eventual environmental blog post will have more clarity.. meh.

india - i am unfortunately also the best man at a friends wedding.July 26 and various stag etc arrangements for the wedding before that date. you leave at the end of term then I couldn't quite make out from your blurb, after 3weeks after the beginning of july what happens? I would love to come with you to india, but i don't want to go out to india for anything less than three weeks. 13th june - 11th july is a possibility, 27th july - 21st august is a possibility.. your trip sounds amazing, i would love love love to join you out there, could you bullet point me the key dates :-)

all the very best in christ, phil.x

Thursday, 10 January 2008

note to antonio - jan 08

Ehem, so yes, long live this petit plaisir of writing and eventually being written to, if and when a certain one of us pulls his weight in this enterprise. It is not so much in the concieving and constructing of letters that I am deficient, but the penning and posting. And yes a moment of silence for the sorry demise of critical theory seminars, a moment of silence in which to ponder, do we need a Liss to initiate these, I'd be all for rumouring an independent colloqium: join, write, alternately present, over dinner at a secret location periodically.

So here we are now in 2008, pondering the christmas that ought to have been, the christmas the marketeers hoped we thought we ought to have had, that indulgent christmas smuggled in under the guise of tradition, tinsel and that profoundly damaging notion of entitlement. To ought to have had, who can say. Meh (c)

Can God bless Newton? Can one bless the dead? And on a related note do creationists, indeed should christians believe that God still takes a sabbath on every seventh day? Is there a trinitarian on-call rota for the weekend?

I enjoyed an excellent, if over dramatic presentation on the life of Michael Polanyi, whose thoughts on 'tacit knowing' and critique of modernism and the veneration of scientific knowing would and i hope will fascinate you.

I am considering with some small seriousness the switch to architectural studies, I may be happier and more productive there, meh.

note to antonio - dec 07

Changes. To say that something changes is to say that it is. I would venture... Perhaps I am going beyond my depth in the field of philosophical relativity. Change changes and were change measurable in any meaningful way, I suspect that we would find that the rate of change changed, and in our era substantially. However - stipulating no God hypothesis - there is no standing stone in the rushing stream of life from which to measure objective change. And even with God - who it is supposed is unchanging in nature - our discernment of him (or your unnameable) is as relative as our discernment of change.

I was given to think on this as my brother spoke with a friend on the phone last night, and the reflected generational change in the nature of relationships, speaking on the phone to one's friends is an isolated specific, but there are parallel changes, in the depth and breadth of relationships, speed of life, even the physicality of our existence. And for you as you return home, against what might you calibrate those faculties by which you mark change?

I feel within me that these connected changes reflect, indeed consist in, a trajectory from and towards objective states, do you think things are accelerating away from or towards an objective state of being or nothingness? Oh to have the time to read Heidegger and friends on these.

Alternatively, in the long run, nothing changes. Ecclesiastes etc and the cyclical nature of things, there is nothing new under the sun, nothing is remembered, nothing ultimately changes, and here I begin to feel I am being obtuse to appear deep and meaningful, as I listen to myself... does a christian worldview, exclusively or even at all, give rise to a directional linear notion of time? I know that the Judaistic view was linear in a time and place when all geographically adjacent civilisations' views of time were cyclical.

The Protestant work ethic has been condemned on the grounds of too close an allegiance to capitalism, but I would go further than that, that 'development' which comfortably fits within a widely circulated understanding of diligent christian work, is unsustainable in and of itself. Based on what historical precedent is one able to say we will find a technology to offset and accommodate our ceaselessly increasing development/comfort/consumption/population on a finite planet? Easter Island? The Romans? History is littered with technologically advanced civilisations who knowingly willed their own demise by consuming the natural (and cultural?) capital which sustained them. I have been frustrated this holiday to meet Christians whose concept of work, value and the planet is so fixed in this paradigm that blindly venerates the saving power of technology to justify a lifestyle that is not only biopathic, but is inhumane and it is one that distances them from the 'provision of God' they so espouse on their Sundays. Christians surely bring to the table a unique confidence in death, an imperative to a sacrificial life, and an obligation to envrionmentalism, given that they know the cook. If Christians settle for cosmetic environmentalism, it is because of unbelief, it is because of bad theology, and it will not simply be less than ideal, I would venture that it will in fact be counter 'productive', hence the death of church?

Furthermore, although less a 'christian' issue, if I have not misunderstood the gravity, urgency and scale of the environmental question I would wish to add that the every-little-helps mode of environmentalism, may itself also be counter-productive, not that every little doesn't help but in its promotion there is the danger of then promoting a self-righteous sort of recycling derived from a comparative morality, the danger that those so inclined will settle for Brownie points without regard for a holistic environmentalism. Also the issue that to promote the driving of hybrids promotes driving, buying organic is still consuming, building triple glazed is still building all of which fly straight past the central problem: the scale and motivation of consumption, rather than the nature and specific virtue of the product. There is also the individualistic nature of most small steps which again is proliferating a social model at the heart of unsustainable living. Lastly, unless the small steps contribute to a lasting structure of total environmentalism, rather than mitigating present local climate issues this entire battle will need to be fought again in the next generation.

A Stanford lecture mentioned about something on travel, but the substance of it I have forgotten making it fairly empty to pass on, it was that in much of history, people travelled, if you wanted to travel, you travelled ~slowly and dangerously but travelled none the less~, as is attested by the spread of Irish missionaries across Europe. And I suppose the Romans etc. Made me to wonder, perhaps how slowly i might try to cross Europe. That and to what extent our concept of limited historical travel and the impoverished lives such geographically restrained individuals lead, has been painted by the vested interests of the various transport industries.

The sustainability essay, as I messaged, is going swimmingly, although it is struggling to come in to land. Most suggestions and arguments I would put forward regarding sustainability seem self-evident or impossible. That or they dispute assertions made in the title, or at the very least that 'quality of life' and 'economically sustainable' must be predicated in a radically alternative value system. Schumacher puts forward that the issue of unsustainablility is a metaphysical issue, requiring a metaphysical cure. Have you thoughts on that, not so much that there is a metaphysical issue, as that I think goes without saying, but that it should be 'the' issue and 'the' solution at the heart of the environmental question?

I very much want to write on a church for this theory and criticism essay, but I cannot find any church of substance that has been built in the last 20 years in England. Were I to chose the Vineyard, I fear I would run dry in the space of 3500wds, for lack of intentionality in the design. By the time you receive this I will have had to settle on a building, perhaps the Richard Meier Jubilee church in Rome or the Mario Botta in Paris, or the renovated St Paul's Church in Bow in London.. I await a reply from couchhosters in Paris, whom I could stay with while I do the church... that or Rome, but i can't justify it, both for the stress of going only for a couple of days and for the pain on my conscience, while the weight of my life staggers in the direction of a life more simple, more humble, more local, more joyfilled.. There is a tension that battles the selfish instinct to go for the big name, the widely published starchitect designed. Coventry's transport Museum would do amply.

I find it hard to move in simple life discussions, I would hate to think it was me, more than it was the nature of the subject, to bring out the defensive in people, to draw them to the conclusion that I am set on confrontation, or even that I have answers to the questions of wheres and whys of the destination of this planet as it hurtles ever faster into uncertainty. And there again, the melodrama that seems inevitable.

'Fresh' used in the context of food, is or has become, arguably the most meaningless adjective ever attached to an edible noun.

That God should have brought our group together is curious, do you ever feel he meant for more than this, without delving into free will and determinism, that perhaps there is a greater dimension of combined existence that by our, my, cowardice, nay lack of faith is not being seized with both hands and the opportunity to be greater than the sum of our parts in being food to the hungry, serving truth to the lost, bridging fractures in Nottingham now, is slipping from us. I would happily argue that the world suffers when the church is not up to standard, I have a very ideal vision of a church, a life giving body of people that lives for others, seeks to live with less, and this mildly utopic vision crashes to a sorry end as I engage real church with real people, actual brokenness and an opposing team playing on the field of life. It crashes, because I fail to be this church, it crashes because of my theology and world view, that I should hope this world to be that which it is not, without putting to practical use even my own talents and resources..