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Give the earth a Sabbath day

Christopher D. Ringwald, Christian Science Monitor
If we all reduced our driving, shopping, and business by one-seventh, we’d pollute that much less.

As religious leaders and their congregations go green, they’ve neglected one Judeo-Christian teaching that could cut energy consumption and pollution by 14.2857 percent.

That’s one-seventh, just as the Sabbath halts work one day out of the weekly seven.

The day of rest – long considered a gift from God – is meant to create a joyful, liberating respite from worldly concerns such as work and consumption, activities that both use the earth’s resources.

So renewed observance of the Sabbath could also be a gift to the air, land, and water that we consume the other six days of the week.

… Each religion’s teaching makes a powerful case for calling it quits one day a week. Many nonreligious people take a weekly rest as well. If we all reduced our driving, shopping, business, and energy consumption by one-seventh, we’d pollute that much less. We’d have to avoid energy-guzzling leisure activities, so maybe nix the long drives or movie marathons. Still, even if we left out the work and traffic that must go on – hospitals, police, utilities – the environmental boon would still be significant.

Religious leaders have joined to battle global warming and preserve God’s creation. But in their rush to recycle, reduce, and reuse, they have neglected the pollution-reducing potential of a full-day work stoppage.
(12 September 2007)

In Greenland, an interfaith rally for climate change

Colin Woodard, The Christian Science Monitor
Standing on the bow of a passenger ship before the fast-melting Ilulissat glacier, religious leaders from around the world lowered their heads in a silent prayer for the future of the planet.

Surrounded by icebergs, Sunni, Shiite, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Shinto leaders committed themselves last Friday to leave the planet “in all its wisdom and beauty to the generations to come.” They included the Grand Rabbi of Paris, René-Samuel Sirat, Bishop Sofie Petersen of Greenland, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, and the Rev. Jim Ball, founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

They are in Greenland for a six-day tour on the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the senior-most figure in Orthodox Christianity, widely known as the Green Patriarch for his efforts to mobilize religious leaders to protect the environment.

Patriarch Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, Turkey, has traveled to many of the world’s environmental hotspots including the Black Sea, the Danube, and the Amazon, usually as part of a series of shipboard symposiums between religious, scientific, and political leaders.

Now he is taking on climate change…
(12 September 2007)

Environmental awareness taking root in conservative Christian churches

Susan Orr, Evansville Courier Press
…In Evansville and beyond, environmental awareness is starting to attract more attention among folks who fall far outside the stereotypical “green” profile.

“I think it’s still catching on, especially with the more conservative Christians,” said Lisa Sideris, assistant professor of religious studies at Indiana University.

Traditionally, Sideris said, conservative Christianity has been associated with certain beliefs that tend to be incompatible with environmentalism.

…Among conservative Christians, the concept has become stewardship – the responsibility to care for nature because God made it.

“If it’s God’s, I’m going to think twice about messing it up. If it’s mine, then I’m going to use it as I see fit,” said the Rev. Tom Wenig, pastor of Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer on Evansville’s East Side.

As part of studies for a doctoral degree in ministry, Wenig is presenting a five-week program on environmental stewardship to his congregation.

During the first session Sunday, Wenig focused on theology, raising issues designed to provoke thought on the topic. For instance, what did God mean when he gave humans dominion over nature? When God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth, did this command also imply that at some point the earth would be full?

… Wenig said his goal is to raise environmental consciousness among his members, and to develop a program that other pastors could use in their own congregations.

“It’s really trying to develop a mind-set. … It isn’t trying to take on a big political agenda.”

For his part, Wenig said he believes the earth does face a looming energy crisis and that human activity is exacerbating if not causing global warming.

He acknowledges that these views aren’t widely held among conservative Christians.
(15 September 2007)