Dear Partners in Green,
There was a phrase that kept coming to mind as I thought about creating a site dedicated to the most important issue of our day. It then became apparent to me that if we could live into this phrase, all the other issues of our time would not be such a challenge.
That very simple phrase is “let your life speak.” We can speak the words about mitigating climate change, but we must also live lives that match our words. Our actions must be outward and visible signs of what we believe. And what we believe is that the beautiful earth and all that dwell on it are in grave danger due to the habits of our species and that there is a better more fulfilling and more sustainable way of living.
Yes, I do believe that at issue is our habits, habits which are so engrained we cannot even imagine living another way. Habits involving not just actions but habits in our way of thinking.
But we must think and act differently, for the old is going to pass away. It is not working, it is not sustainable. Just read the statistics on the extinction of species, on storm patterns, on projected ocean depths. Really hear what the scientists who have studied Climate Change have to say. We cannot hide our heads in the sand. These scientists are the prophets of our day and many have been vilified by those who find their truths inconvenient. No different than the fate of the prophets of old.
We cannot cower and hide, or deny that which should not be denied. We need to address it head-on with courage and determination. And we have to let our lives speak that others may follow the new course we have set. And instead of looking at the dilemma with fear and anxiety, let’s look at it as a challenge and an opportunity, even as an adventure. Let us imagine a better future.
The state in which we find ourselves today could have been predicted by Henry David Thoreau who read the signs back in the mid-1800s.I invite you to read Samuel Alexander’s book “Just Enough Is Plenty, Thoreau’s Alternative Economics.”
You may wonder about my choice of words for the site, PreachingGreen.com. No, this site is not just intended for ministers and it is not about giving advice in a pompously self-righteous way. Rather, it is about finding ways to convey the facts of the case, and ways to lead by example that will engage and inspire.
In seminary, I took a class called Jazz of Preaching taught by Kirk Byron Jones. The class had come about after Dr. Jones had found himself in a preaching slump and had even considered leaving the ministry entirely. But one evening while in this slump he happened to listen to jazz. And one aspect of jazz that inspired him was improvisation, the playful, daring, spontaneous quality of jazz. And I am hopeful that that is how the good news of a greener world can be conveyed. By your thoughtful words, by your listening and by creatively responding, and by the way, your life will be an example and an inspiration.
Not jazz, of course, but a song that inspires me to do better is Gaia by James Taylor found on his Hourglass CD:
I leave you with the poem by Wendell Berry.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Thank you for being on this journey,
Till next time,
Alexander, Samuel. Just Enough Is Plenty: Thoreau’s Alternative Economics. Melbourne: Simplicity Institute, 2016.
Jones, Kirk Byron. The Jazz of Preaching, How to preach with great joy and freedom. Nashville: Abington Press, 2004.
Berry, Wendell, “The Peace of Wild Things”, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1998.
James Taylor, “Gaia” Hourglass, 1997.