Friday, 30 November 2007

And Jesus compared hell to...

a rubbish tip! In His preaching, Jesus described hell as being like ‘Gehenna.’ Gehenna is a place in the Valley of Hinnon, which was used as Jerusalem’s municipal dump; it’s interesting to note that Jesus idea of hell on earth was an unsustainable rubbish tip.

Jesus vision of the world to come was of a place where things do not disappear from creation, where consumption does not destroy, or, in the words of theologian Bishop James Jones of Liverpool, “The new world is a realm of sustainable consumption.”

The best description of sustainability flowed from the pen of environmental theologian Edward Echlin and I quote it here. “Sustainability means taking from the earth’s resources what is sufficient for today’s needs, for all creatures, without compromising the ability of future generations, of all creatures, to live with sustainable sufficiency.” (Earth Spirituality)

Surely, the only people who could possibly disagree with that are they who believe that those who follow us have no rights whatsoever?

Monday, 19 November 2007

Esso - George Bush's paymaster!

"From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy, the fear of lost advantage provokes the bitter cry, 'Dont query our position! Don't critise our wealth! Don't mentioned those exploited by politics and stealth!' A verse from the Hymn "Inspired by Love and Anger.

Exxon is the power behind Bush and his blocking of international progress towards an emissions reductions treaty. Exxon runs a cynical campaign of disinformation on climate change and lobbies vigorously against any action to deal with climate change. Bush has not only rejected but continously sought to undermine the Kyoto Protocol and any meaningful action to bring down global emissions of greenhouse gases.

It is no big secret that he has done this in response to the powerful fossil fuel lobby in the United States - and in particular the oil lobby. It is well know that Bush (as one time founder of Arbusto Energy Inc, President of Spectrum 7 Energy Corp and Director of Harken Energy Corp - all oil companies) has close connections with the Texas oil industry. Not to mention the connections of Vice President Dick Cheney as ex-CEO of Haliburton oil company.

Texan-based ExxonMobil (trading under the brand name 'Esso' in the UK) has been at the forefront of the massive lobbying effort by the fossil fuel industry in the US against US acceptance of Kyoto or any international agreement on emissions reductions. Other fossil fuel companies have played an important role - for instance Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, the role of which in the lobbying that pressured Bush into rejecting Kyoto in 2001 was well reported by BBC 2's 'Money Programme". But ExxonMobil has been much the most agressive and influential of all the US fossil fuel companies in the campaign that has been waged against Kyoto and to stop the US government placing any effective curbs on US emissions of greenhouse gases.

Exxon is the largest oil company in the world. It makes more than $ 1,000 a second, and last year made the biggest annual profits of any company ever - $ 36 billion. Exxon uses its incredible wealth to back Bush : 1.376 milion dollars in the 2000 election cycle, with 90% of its political donations going to the Republicans. It expects a 'pay-back'. The fact that it has got its way is suggested by the fact that the Bush adminstration's policies on energy and climate are identical to those put forward by ExxonMobil.

Exxon funds a variety of mainly extreme right wing neo-liberal think tanks which lobby against Kyoto and are influential in shaping Republican Party policy. Most notorious amongst these is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, of which the infamous Myron Ebell is the spokeperson. Ebell famously attacked the British government's chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, in November 2004 - demonstrating a willingness to attempt to discredit even the most prestigous scientists who are vocal about the scale of the climate change threat. To find out more about the organisations Exxon funds go to .

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Ignore the word at your own risk...

The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5, RSV)

Christians have as their head, the one whose spirit moved over the waters of creation. Our God who when in human form owned only the clothes that He stood up in and had, in the words of the hymn, ‘stone as pillow, earth as bed.’ St Thomas Aquinas wrote that, ‘The variety of creation was so that His goodness might be communicated to them, and reflected by them,’ and St Francis words reminding us that we are but a part of God’s creation often appeared ignored as well.

Today the holistic theologies of St Paul, St Francis, Hildegarde of Bingen, Aquinas, Loyola, Benedict and the Celtic saints, based on the creation dimension in Jesus teachings, have been cherry picked in a movement away from the Theology of Creation. Theology, as taught today both in colleges and from the pulpit, is mainly concerned with the redemption of mankind from the present day natural world, with a near fixation upon the world that is to come.

God reminds all Christians of his ownership of creation through the words of Psalm 50. ‘For every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains and the creatures of the field are mine.’ We are but part of God’s creation and Christians should proclaim God’s Gospel message of love and concern to all of creation by way of their actions, by the way that they care for the work of His hands, because the earth, with everything that is in and on it was designed by, made by and belongs to God.

Isaiah wrote, of the sounds of ‘trees clapping their hands and mountain and hills bursting into song,’ and for many people, religious or not, they actually do, because their greatest spiritual experience is in the woods, forest, hills and mountains. You are most certainly not nearer to God on a mountaintop in a forest or in the hills; it is just that in these situations you can hardly ignore the fact of His all-pervading presence. The wilderness experience of an environment that is untamed and unsullied by man, sings to the glory of the God that created it.

We read in Genesis The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,’ humanity is then but a physical part of the Earth and so it obviously follows on that Earth is a part of us, and so the unavoidable fact is that in mankind’s wanton destruction of creation, mankind destroys itself.

There can be no doubt that God gave mankind the authority to rule over the Earth, but then God, in the form of Jesus, showed us the perfect example of how that authority should be exercised. Ignore it or not, (and lets face it, most people ignore it) there can also be no doubt about the scale of the environmental crisis that the world is facing due to mankind’s ignoring of Jesus example in the form of living lightly and of servanthood.

Examples of today’s societies strange order of priorities are not hard to find. One that springs to mind is the fact that while in the third world global warming and rising sea levels are bringing starvation, death and the threat of death to millions of people, millions of pounds have been spent in our country and America in trying to find signs of life on Mars, I wonder what Jesus will say about that?

In the Lord’s Prayer, we have Jesus order of priority. Immediately after the salutations to the God who gave us life, He talks of ‘our daily bread.’ The inescapable fact for the Church to come to terms with is that it is impossible to convert those who due to global warming and environmental degradation are starving to death.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance Sunday

Today is Remembrance Sunday. Many time over the years I have visited the WW1 & WW2 battlefields to pay my respects to the fallen and appreciate the agony of those that survived. When in Ypres early this year I examined the book of names in a WW1 cemetery in that town, against them some had the handwritten words "Shot at dawn." I have added a photo of the headstone of one such victim, please double left click on it to fully read the inscription. These men, although in some cases they were only 16 years old, were usually suffering from shell shock and physical and mental injury, and the legacy of their execution has caused pain and suffering to many of their families ever since, please remember them. In the same way that many families have suffered from man's inhumanity to man the fields around Ypres are still bearing the scars of man's inhumanity to God's creation, littered as they are under the surface with with the razor wire, mustard gas canisters and munitions that kill and injure even today. Thankfully in WW2 no one was treated in the same aweful way.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

There Is None So Blind As Those That Refuse To See...

In July ‘07 I accessed the Reuters news reports to see what was happening to the world’s weather. In Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece, temperatures had reached around 44 degrees Centigrade, approximately 113 degrees Fahrenheit. In Romania 30 people were reported to have died due to the heat and deaths had also been reported in the other affected areas. In Bari, Italy thousands of people were reported trapped on beaches by a fire that killed several and in Serbia 10,000 chickens died from the heat in battery farms.

Meanwhile Sudan was experiencing its worst floods in living memory. Heavy rains had already killed 55, destroyed 25,000 homes, and those living near flood plains and rivers were been warned to relocate to higher ground. In China severe flooding affected around half the country, with 800 deaths being attributed to this. Nearly 800 deaths had been attributed to the monsoon floods in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan and while all this was going on Tibet was reported as warming up faster than anywhere else on Earth. As the Tibetan glaciers disappeared, and some of China’s major rivers that are fed by them dried, yet another environmental disaster loomed. In the UK we had flooding in the Midlands where some areas experienced a months rain in less than a day for several days, and so it went on.

As I write this, November 2007, flooding has devastated Mexico, and in Africa scientists have predicted that due to Global Warming (Climate Chaos) 30% of the coastal regions would be in peril in the years to come and that many parts of the continent would be uncultivable or uninhabitable. Meanwhile in the UK the cold weather that would have killed off the Bluetongue carrying midges that have devastated many in the sheep farming community has yet to arrive, roses are still blooming as are many of the other plants in our garden and the new grass growth (the UK in November?) is too rich for our friend to put his horse out to meadow.

Meanwhile two students from Gothenburg published a spoof on-line report claiming to be from ‘The Journal of Geoclimatic Studies’ in Japan that stated that bacteria in the Pacific and Atlantic emitted 300 times more C02 than industry. Climate denying scientists jumped on the report and it was circulated and publicised worldwide until someone spotted that it was a hoax!

Isn’t it strange that supposedly intelligent people are as ready to accept the false as they are to ignore the obvious?

Friday, 9 November 2007

The War On Terror, an excuse for torture!

Despite claims by the US and the UK to the contrary, the unadvoidable evidence is that torture is an accepted tool in the War on Terror.

“We pick a suspect up or we arrange for one of our partner countries to do it. Then the suspect is placed on civilian transport to a third country where, lets make no bones about it, they use torture. If you send a prisoner to Jordan you get a better interrogation. So said CIA Middle East Officer Robert Baer in describing ‘extraordinary rendition.’

In Guantanamo Bay where over 350 detainees are held, none charged with any offence recognised in law, the US authorities have created a law free zone. Torture is known to be an accepted way of behaviour yet it is impossible to know if those detained are guilty of any crimes.

In the UK it is a fact that the government have allowed US planes to use UK airports and airspace to move suspects to undisclosed destinations, some believed to be in Europe. Amnesty International believes that over 10,000 people have disappeared in the West’s War On Terror.

Please support Amnesty’s campaign at

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Electricity in the Third World

It is easy for us that live in the 'first world' to become used to energy coming from the flick of a switch, but for many living in the Third World, this is not the case, I attach an email sent to solar engineer Graham Knight's Biodesign charity that may illustrate the situation

Dear Graham,
I received the small kit with the led works fine...and the kids we educate were fascinated. Thank you.

We were recently donated 26 solar garden lamps, so after the lecture the kids installed the lamps around our camp and very proud and happy when we saw them working.

I would like to get the kids to make LED lights exactly the same as the sample you provided, which they can sell for Daktari, or take home. We fitted yours to a pull string switch, extended the twin flex to the solar panel (which is now on the roof) and mounted the single LED in the apex of the thtached roof. It is amazing....even the single LED gives enough light at night to see where we walk. This is exactly what we need - no bigger or better.

I, and the under-privileged children, thank you very much for your help. Ian Merrifield (Director) DAKTARI WILDLIFE ORPHANAGE P.O. Box 1599Hoedspruit 1380SOUTH AFRICA

The photo is of our son Gareth taken in Makele, Etheopia with a group of orphans, when he went as a member of a group to fit solar panels to an orphanage in order to provide lighting.
Matthew 25v40: And Jesus said, "Truely I tell you, just as I did it unto one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it unto me.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Did you know that?

Across Europe, enough mobile phone handsets are discarded each year to make a chain from London in England to Perth in Scotland?

The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day. In the US it's 600 litres a day. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it's 10 litres a day? (WDM)

Buying local produce can reduce associated carbon emissions by almost 100 per cent? (National Farmers' Retail and Markets Association)

300 million gallons of raw or partially treated sewage are discharged around the UK coastline each day? (Surfers Against Sewage)

In some parts of the world, the bodies of whales and dolphins washed ashore are so highly contaminated they qualify as toxic waste? (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society)

Thursday, 1 November 2007

The FIVE R's