Consensus on Fate of Earth at the corner of Church and State Streets: Creation Corner Column, September 2015
Over the 2015 summer, with the issuing of the Papal Encyclical Letter on the environment (“On Care for Our Common Home”), and the “Clean Power Plan” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some agreement seems apparent that provides us further encouragement for our obligation to be hopeful.
Described as “game-changing,” the EPA regulations have a goal of reducing overall U.S. carbon emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030, and provide states flexibility to achieve such (applauded by both some state and fossil fuel corporate leaders).
President Obama stressed the importance of the measures, saying “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it” and “Climate change is no longer about protecting the world for our children and grandchildren, it is about the reality that we are living with right now.”
Pope Francis, in his 246 numbered paragraphs of the encyclical addressed to “every person living on this planet” offers many proposals to “help us escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us” (¶ 163). “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change (¶ 202), so that we “hear both the cry of the environment and the cry of the poor” (¶ 49), for both are related.
Calling for each of us, especially Christians, to have an “ecological conversion”, we need to be “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork” for that “is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (¶ 217).
One example of this emphasis on our original mandate of responsibility to the earth (from Genesis 2:15), to “till it keep it” (¶ 66, 67), in the Lutheran faith tradition, is the Offertory Prayer wherein “…we offer ourselves to your service and dedicate our lives to the care and redemption of all that you have made…” (Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978).
Of course, some naysayers will object to this convergence of thoughtful linkages between the political and religious sectors. However, as the editor of The Christian Century wrote (Aug. 5, p. 3): “Religion and politics do mix…we want better health and education for everyone because neighbor love is one of our deepest values and commitments. We want safe food, safe automobiles, and a judicial system that guarantees equal treatment for all. And we want a sustainable environment for our grandchildren.”
Note: Lutherans interested in the “Restoring” aspect of our web site name may be interested in the autumn issue of Earth Island Journal: News of the World Environment whose theme is “Return to the Native: Inside the Indigenous Movement of Resistance and Restoration.” http://www.earthisland.org .