Senate Shows Bipartisan Leadership on Green Climate Fund

Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox:

We are thankful to Senator Kirk (R-IL), Collins (R-ME), Merkley (D-OR), and Udall (D-NM) for their bipartisan efforts in support of the Green Climate Fund.  “In this unfortunate period of extreme partisan politics, it’s a blessing to see four senators reach across the aisle to care of the ‘least of these,’” stated The Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN’s President.

The four Senators issued a letter earlier this week in support of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). GCF is a non-United Nations Fund to assist majority world nations both adapt to climate change impacts and grow their economics with clean energy.

“The bipartisan letter provides hope that our elected leaders are hearing the moral and biblical call to care for all God’s children and His creation,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, “America has always offered our support to those in need, and the letter displays American moral leadership in mitigating and adapting to our changing climate.”

The Senators’ action is in line with the Evangelical Climate Initiative, The Lausanne Movement’s Cape Town Commitment, and Pope Francis’ Encyclical, LAUDATO SI.   As the Lausanne Movement’s (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott) states:

Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.

Discussion of Faith, Children, and the Moral Dimensions of Climate Change at Eastern University

Sen. Casey Leads Panel Discussion on the Biblical Imperative For Climate Action

Starting at 2:30pm ET TODAY watch a live stream of the event by clicking here

On Friday, September 18, 2015 from 2:30pm ET, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) will moderate a discussion on the moral call for climate action issued by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, the Cape Town Commitment by senior evangelical leaders worldwide, and by the Evangelical Climate Initiative representing over 300 senior evangelical leaders in the United States.

Climate-intensified water and food scarcity, the spread of disease, sea level rise, and ocean acidification are impacting the vulnerable worldwide, leading to forced migration, violence/instability, and even death.

2014 was the warmest year ever recorded and 2015 may break that record.  The increased temperatures worsen asthma and are linked to the rapid rise of Lyme Disease here in Pennsylvania.

“Climate change impacts every person in the world making it the greatest moral challenge of our time,” states the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President of the Evangelical Environmental Network. “It also presents the greatest opportunity for hope in building a clean energy economy providing  good jobs, clean air, pure water, and a quality future for all God’s children worldwide.”

Integral to discussion will be ways to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s The Clean Power Plan, investing in clean energy, and working to ensure a just tradition for Pennsylvania workers.

What: Panel Discussion on the Biblical Imperative for Climate Action

When: 2:30pm ET, Friday September 18, 2015

Where: Eastern University’s McInnis Auditorium, 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA

The event is free and open to all by registering at (Seats are limited). http://www.eastern.ticketleap.com/climatechange/

Welcome & Opening Prayer: Dr. Keith Iddings, Provost of Eastern University

Panelists include:

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President & CEO, The Evangelical Environmental Network
Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, The Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center
Daniel P. Scheid, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, McAnulty College & Graduate School of
Liberal Arts, Department of Theology, Duquesne University
Ms. Gretchen Dahlkemper, National Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
David W. Unander, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Eastern University

Laudato Si’ on a Capable Culture

by Alexei Laushkin

The problem is that we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis (Laudato Si’, 53).

Laudato Si’ makes a number of very poignant observations, perhaps none more so than the need to build and embody a culture capable of confronting the crisis.

Now what crisis is the encyclical referring to? Is it the climate crisis? The technocratic paradigm that helps to diminish human life? Is it our disregard for the elderly or the unborn?

The answer is yes, yes, and yes, but perhaps the biggest problem is what underlies all of those problems, mainly human sin. This putting off of sin has to begin with each of us and has to be embodied in the body of Christ even as we make our views known and push for change in the public square. In this way reaching back to a sense of personal and social holiness/righteousness is key.

In the United States the problem of our culture is particularly evident. On the same week that the President took significant action to reduce carbon, Congress could not pass legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. As Pope Francis has said we do not yet have the culture to confront the crisis at hand. Our inconsistent regard and at times totally disregard for human life as at the center of this crisis.  Here’s Bishop Kalistos Ware on what exactly this image and likeness is that motivates our common concern for human dignity:

The image is that which man possesses from the beginning, and which enables him to set out in the first place on the spiritual Way; the likeness is that which he hopes to attain at his journey’s end.

Laudato Si’ gives fresh impetus to the notion that work to engage issues that have such an impact on human life flow from a similar conviction. Here’s Laudato Si’ on why those of us who are concerned about creation, can’t ignore the unborn:

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away (136).

And further on the interconnection or similar well-spring of concern for human life:

When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature (117).

 

Pope Francis is right we have a crisis of culture, and it’s well time that we address and embody a culture of life. Until we do so we won’t have the culture capable of really valuing all of life well.

Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network

Laudato Si’- Living a Life of Praise

by Alexei Laushkin

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

Laudato Si’ is about climate change, about the environment, and about our culture. The temperament of mankind is manifesting itself in profound brokenness and alienation as evidenced by abortion and how we tend not to esteem marriage, the well being of all children, our elderly, and certainly a whole host of vulnerable peoples. These are issues that the scriptures themselves would take us to task over, especially given that some of the main drivers of global influence and culture are coming from nations that in some way lay claim to Christian heritage, or even if they don’t at present have certainly been heavily influenced by Christianity. Even in our land, the United States we dare not forget the work of God through many people within our midst.

So what sort of life and faith is necessary for these times? Here’s Laudato Si’ addressing a portion of that question:

We are convinced that ‘man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life’.[100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood.[101]We need to remember that men and women have ‘the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments.’ [102]Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God (127).

Our capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, our spiritual vision has narrowed. In the words of scripture:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-11)

We have become near sighted in our faith. We have very much lost the divine love that ought to animate our works of mission and our care for one another not to mention our family life and our life with those we are closest with. Not love of abstract ideas or zeal for salvation without transformation, but real rooted and anchored love that banishes sin from our lives and brings us into a holiness and wholeness of life. The sort of faith that in the words of Laudato Si’: “[that dares] to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it” (19).

So what do we do to return to a life of praise? What can we learn from the examples of St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Francis of Assisi, or even Brother William J. Seymour of the Azusa Street Revival.  Divine love was made manifest and so real in each of their lives that creation itself changed. The grace of God was so real and present and holiness so manifest that they each showed us the way to be Christ in their time and place.

Think of what happened in Los Angeles in April 1906 almost 100 years ago. America was still going to go through Civil Rights and years of needing to work through the sins of racism and indifference of other kinds of people that still plagues us to this day. And yet the Lord broke down barriers and brought heavenly unity, a foretaste of what Martin Luther King Jr. saw in hisI Have a Dream speech. A reality not brought about by legislation or clever ways to curb sin, but a radical heart transformation that allowed what was true in heaven to be true on earth.

Think of what happened with St. Seraphim of Sarov. On the eve of the great wickedness that would break out in Russia in the 20th century, the Lord sent this living example of humility, faith, and holiness to strengthen the church and God’s people for the times ahead. This account by Nicholas Motovilov is well worth the time.

Think of what happened with St. Francis of Assisi who was bothered and grieved by what he saw around him in his time, that the Lord used that and his purity of heart to bring something totally new back into the life of the church.

The example of being radical for Christ is at heart of these great saints and this is just a sampling of what God has done through many kinds of people and movements of his people to bring a sense of restoration and wholeness to times of crisis.

Let us not be self-deceived, we are in a time of crisis. The crisis as of yet is not manifesting itself in the same violence of the 20th century, but the crisis in some ways is more severe because the doors and clear teaching on how to become fully Christ like are quickly closing or vanishing from the earth. Think of what is happening to ancient Christian communities around the world, let alone the sort of veiled gospel that is too often preached in this land. We are failing to remember what it means to be God’s people and without that the gates of hell won’t be too far behind. Even today we are seeing the first fruits of this distancing from God in our midst. It is possible that as man tries to live further and further apart from God and each other that the worst days of human nature are just ahead, manifested in an imperial narcissism and indifference to the suffering and frailty that we all experience apart from God.

If we don’t know where we are in our cultural moment we can’t possibly rouse ourselves enough to wake up and turn. To repent and grieve to what’s become of the pursuit of God in each of our own personal lives and than more broadly in the lives around us. This is not for a form of arrogance, as the scripture rightly reminds us we need to look to the sin and log in our own eyes before we attend to our neighbors. But as we look, we ought to grieve, we ought to lament and cleanse ourselves of our own deep defilement before God.

Once we have repented, our eyes can more clearly see what is right around us, and we begin to take steps through small acts of justice and wholeness beginning with our families and than working outwards to our communities.

God has not abandoned us, but we must turn and strive with all our might to achieve another, more heavenly quality of life. That’s what I see as being essential for Laudato Si’ to take hold in the life of the church. We need to be reminded as Pope Francis himself is embodying, mainly what Christ looks like when he is fully present in our lives. What sort of generosity of spirit should characterize our living and being, and than with what patience and creativity we can than use for the life of the world and the life of God’s people and indeed all people on the face of the earth.

Come Lord Jesus, do a work in us that is necessary for the times we face.

Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network 

Laudato Si’ and Our Cultural Moment

by Alexei Laushkin

In 2006 the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) was launched, prominent evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, Rich Stearns, and Bill Hybels signed. It stated:

Human-Induced Climate Change is Real and increasing international instability, which could lead to more security threats to our nation. Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats

The ECI helped take the lead in opening up a space for Christians to care and act on climate change. Over the last few years thanks to the leadership of the ECI, EEN has greatly benefited from an increased focus on the reality that human life and care of God’s world go hand in hand. From mercury pollution that impacts the unborn, air pollution that impacts children suffering from Asthma, to water pollution and its impact on children’s health, from toxics and their impact on the unborn, to carbon pollution which has its own impacts on human life.  In the past four years, over 600,000 people have taken action with EEN on a variety of initiatives that put human health at the center of why pro-life Christians act on pollution.

Laudato Si is a ground breaking teaching for Christians who are concerned about the care of God’s world, because in many ways it builds on the existing concerns and places them within a wider context. Much like the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leadership of Pope Francis is opening up the door for a wider and deeper understanding of our cultural moment.

Laudato Si is about the environment and its about climate change, but much like the work of EEN it’s about a lot more than those particular concerns. It’s about the sort of culture we’ve created that has in turn created this current moment with grave consequences for human life.

The truth is we are fighting against as the encyclical puts it ‘the globalization of indifference’ and a ‘throwaway culture’ where the disregard for human life is at the center of many of our contemporary ills. What we need today is refreshment from the Holy Spirit. For God to so transform us into the likeness of his Son that we have the tools and talents necessary to deal with challenges like climate change which if we help create the proper culture will also help us deal more fully with issues like abortion and marriage culture.

What we see in the world and in the church is as old as every challenge, presented to ever age, mainly sin. What we are seeing today is a slow calcification of heart muscles, and what we need is to be fully made alive by the Holy Spirit so that we can turn from our sins and wicked ways and follow more fully the Risen Lord.

If we would humble ourselves there is so much God would want to do with each of us when it comes to tackling climate change. Do we have eyes to see how God can use markets, entrepreneurship, and the church to bring about a better way of relating to each other and God’s world? What is needed is no less than a revival of the life of the church.

Quotable Laudato Si ‘Praised Be’

Click below for the full teaching:

http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

  • “The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us, men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.”
  • “Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities- and other religions as well- have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing.”
  • “He [St. Francis] shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”
  • “The world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”
  • “to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”
  • “the climate is a common good.”
  • “It [climate change] represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
  • “The warming caused by huge consumption of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating to farmers.”
  • “As the United States Bishops have said, greater attention must be given to ‘the needs of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by powerful interests.’”
  • “Still less is there room for the globalization of indifference.”
  • “We still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis.”
  • “Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is.”
  • “For all of our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity, and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.”
  • “This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decision, and pretending that nothing will happen.”
  • “Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the Risen Christ embraces and illuminates all things.”
  • “Jesus lived in full harmony with creation and others were amazed: What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him! (Mt 8:27)”
  • “A certain way of understanding human life and activity has gone awry, to the serious detriment of the world around us.”
  • “Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used.”
  • “In conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism, which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests.”
  • “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world.”
  • “We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrated vision.”
  • “We know that technology based on the use of highly pollution fossil fuels- especially coal, but also oil and to a lesser degree gas- needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”
  • “Those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are trying to hide (i.e. the need for global action on climate) will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”
  • “Some economic sectors exercise more power than states themselves.”
  • “The rich heritage of Christian spirituality, the fruit of twenty centuries of personal and communal experiences, has a precious contribution to make to the renewal of humanity.”
  • “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.”
  • “They all need is an ‘ecological conversion’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident with the world around them.”
  • “No one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace within him or herself.”
  • “Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good, because lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life.”
  • “That is why the church set before the world the idea of ‘a civilization of love.’”