Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Green Guilt, Green Grace

By Ryan Marsh, Guest Blogger

I don’t exactly expect to read top-notch theological reflections in a GQ magazine while waiting at the dentist office, but to my surprise, Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson’s editorial, “God is Green”, gave me one very needed spiritual root canal. He described an initiative by the Pope to offset the Vatican's carbon emissions by planting trees in Hungary. Nelson quickly found himself both complicit and conflicted: “The holy act of planting trees--of trying to erase your ‘carbon footprint’--has become the modern equivalent of an indulgence....Why do I have a bad feeling that carbon offsetting is mostly an act of expiation, that we’re offsetting guilt more than carbon?”

He became obsessed with making things right by greening every detail of his life, but soon realized: “For a time I felt renewed, even righteous. But then something swept over me. A kind of global warming class rage....I started letting people know, at dinner, that they were tree murderers.”

Is there such thing as green guilt? Absolutely. After going to every length to try and offset his carbon footprint, Nelson ends his article by saying, “The ‘Foot’ still haunts me.” There’s plenty of green guilt to go around because the dilemma is dire and we North Americans, consuming at a rate that would devastate five planets if the rest of the world’s population tried to match us, are the guiltiest offenders.

Is there such thing as green grace? This seems to be the more illusive question. You wont hear about green grace in GQ, for green grace is “a gift of God, so that no one can boast.” It’s what God is doing about the planet’s dilemma, within us, without us and most often, despite us. When we come to the end of what we can do for ourselves (including our planet) and are crushed by the Law of “I got to”, Jesus does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, then invites us to freely respond, “I get to”.

Is there hope for the cosmos, not just human souls, in the death and resurrection of Jesus? The cross of Jesus sure doesn’t appear to be a good solution to planetary peril, but we have been given the nerve to proclaim: “Jesus Christ has overcome ‘the Foot’. So go in peace to love and serve the Lord, one apple seed at a time.”

Ryan Marsh is the Mission Developer of Church of the Beloved, a ‘creatively Lutheran’ community in Edmonds Wa. Ryan blogs at www.BelovedsChurch.org. - God is Green first appeared in the November 2007 issue of Gentlemen’s Quarterly

Monday, July 13, 2009

This is My Father's World

by Deanna Matzen

This is my Father's world, and to my list'ning ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father's world! I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas - His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world - the birds their carols raise; the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise. This is my Father's world! He shines in all that's fair; in the rustling grass I hear Him pass - He speaks to me ev'rywhere.

This is my Father's world - Oh let me not forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father's world! Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is king, let the heavens ring; God reigns let the earth be glad!

This song rang through my head this morning as I was getting ready for work. I could only recall a few words, so when that happens, I love to pull out the hymnal and play the song in its full glory and verse on the piano. Then I pull out a wonderful book that my husband's grandmother gave us the Christmas before she passed away. The book is called, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth Osbeck. I always find the stories very interesting and I wanted to share with you the story of "This is My Father's World" and Osbeck's reflections.

"Even though we are constantly reminded of the violence, tragedy, and ugliness in today's world, we can still rejoice that the beauty of nature all around is ours to enjoy. Who can deny the pleasure that comes from the sight of a glowing sunset or a majestic mountain, the sound of chirping birds or the roar of the surf, and the smell of new mown hay or roses or lilies.

"Maltbie D. Babcock revealed his great admiration for nature in this lovely hymn text. Although he was recognized as one of the outstanding Presbyterian ministers of his generation, Dr. Babock was also a skilled athlete who enjoyed all outdoor activity, especially his early morning walks. He would always comment, 'I'm going out to see my Father's world.' Since Dr. Babcock was an accomplished performer on the organ, the piano, and the violin, we can see why nature seemed to him to be 'the music of the spheres.' In addition to being a tribute to nature, however, the hymn is a triumphant assertion of the unfailing power of God.

"As we follow Dr. Bacock's example and give praise to God for all the beauty of His world, we cannot help being concerned that much of the loveliness is being destroyed by human carelessness and greed. The real answer to our ecological problems must be a renewed appreciation of earth as 'our Father's world' and a greater commitment to taking proper care of it. Christians should be models of this concern."
-Kenneth W. Osbeck
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two Eco-Theology Events this Friday!

Join Earth Ministry on Friday, July 10, at Seattle University's Student Center (LeRoux Conference Room 160) for two eco-theology events as part of the School of Theology and Ministry's Institute for Ecology, Theology, Spirituality, and Justice.

Liturgy for Earth & Spirit, 5pm

A time for creation-themed thanksgiving and praise through song and prayers. Dr. Cynithia D. Moe-Lobeda will be preaching and a special prayer will be said to honor all of Earth Ministry's Greening Congregations. All are welcome to attend! For more information call the Earth Ministry email emoffice@earthministry.org or call 206-632-2426.

We encourage anyone who belongs to an Earth Ministry Greening Congregation to attend and receive the community's prayers for your good work.

Dr. Brian Swimme Lecture on Ecology: A New Story, 7-9pm

Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry is hosting a free lecture by Brian Swimme, director of the Center for the Story of the Universe at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Swimme is the author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, Manifesto for a Global Civilization (with Matthew Fox), The Universe is a Green Dragon and The Universe Story.