The weather is just unbearably hot, isn’t it? Another reason I’m so grateful for the vaccine, and the ability to gather indoors together for worship! Bill McKibben who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, is tireless about how critical it is to cut our addiction to fossil fuels, and reduce the human production of greenhouse gases to 350 parts per million. He’s been “the voice crying in the wilderness” for the past 40 years, much like Al Gore was, but Bill organized a movement called 350.orgHe went all over the country, warning about human-caused climate change. You’ve probably heard his most famous analogy about what happens when the frog denies that his water is getting hotter? The frog is in a pot of water, and the heat is at a very low simmer. He thinks it’s actually quite comfortable for awhile. He’s cold-blooded, so his body just keeps adjusting to the rising temperature, but the heat on the stove keeps increasing just a little at a time over a long time and the frog’s body temp keeps going up. But he doesn’t mind. Until finally he realizes he’s in boiling water; and then it’s too late!
I think we’re all praying it’s not too late already. The threat to our well-being, and the existence of so many other species, is real. Prophets like Bill McKibben have been saying this forever. So much environmental change happening more and more rapidly, in real time. You’ve watched the videos? Read the accounts? It’s just astounding, some of this data. Our Council president Sarah Lange just got back from the epic Heat Dome experience in the Pacific Northwest. She was visiting her folks in Seattle, finally, thanks to the vaccine, only to witness first-hand this concurrent natural disaster. You should ask her what that was like! Unbelievable. But we better believe it. I hear back in early May that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looked at 30 years of data across the US and raised the baseline for defining what “normal” temps are in the US. You know how weather forecasters say the temp is “above or below Normal.”Normal is now hotter than ever in recorded history. The earth has now warmed by more than 1 degree Celsius since 1900, and the pace is accelerating. The data is showing that there’s nothing normal about the pace. Climate prophets like Bill McKibben say the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground for the Earth to stay below an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Recently Pope Francis joined the global effort to curb the excesses of human fossil fuel consumption and the struggle to keep fossil fuel reserves in the ground. That has made a real difference in Roman Catholic organizing and advocacy for Earth stewardship, especially among the more Prophetic orders of priests and nuns like the Mary knolls, Dominicans, and Franciscans who have worked tirelessly to find allies among Catholic lay people, especially those allies in the legal and financial sectors. Recently you may have heard of the fruit of that labor in Christ: because of their prophetic work, Exxon shareholders recently elected 2 of the 4 directors nominated by a coalition of investors that said the oil giant was not investing enough in clean energy. The coalition, called Engine #1, was directly influenced by the faithful, prophetic advocacy of Pope Francis and his followers. The prophetic path is a risky path, but one that Christ walked for the sake of the world. And so it becomes ours in the Church, as well.
Recently our church council has looked at reducing our water consumption as a way of practicing a prophetic stewardship of Creation here on our little corner at 2nd and 7th.I hope you had a chance to read our Council President Sarah Lange’s letter to the congregation, explaining the council’s latest actions? She writes:
“Dear friends and siblings in Christ,
As you know, Utah and most of the West is experiencing an extreme drought. As Christians, we are tasked to be caretakers of Creation—or at least our small part of it. In this spirit of stewardship, the Council feels it is our duty to do our part to conserve water. We live in a desert, even in a “normal” water year, and our church lawn requires a lot of water. The Council has decided to focus our watering on the trees and the north lawn, allowing the west/south lawn to go dormant, or even die back. In that same spirit of stewardship, we feel the time has come to transition the west/south lawn to an alternative landscaping that eliminates the need to water a large lawn. There are many ways to create a landscape that looks good while also being water-wise. In the meantime, if you notice the west/south lawn turning brown, know that this is a deliberate decision and join us in looking forward to an exciting, new, water-wise property.
Like we did back in 2013 when we installed our little solar array that helps us join the collective effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, our council’s leadership in helping us begin to look at alternative, water-wise landscaping that better suits our context here in the High Desert of Utah I think is yet another way we can creatively continue embodying our mission to “live God’s love in the world.”I hope you will join the conversation, and submit your ideas and suggestions to the Tabor council about your thoughts on water-wise landscaping, and how to better use our natural and financial resources for the sake of future generations here at Mount Tabor. The next Council meeting is Sunday August 15. Maybe this can be our next step together as a faith community on the prophetic path of John, and Jesus himself. –Pr. David