Today bloggers around the world are participating in Blog Action Day, a huge conversation of sorts, all writing about climate change from the perspective of each blog’s topic. This blog is about creation care, about caring for the Earth with the understanding that the Earth is part of God’s creation. More particularly, this is a blog about creation care in the context of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.
Nebraska Episcopalians have all sorts of reasons to care about climate change. We are, after all, not only Episcopalians who live in Nebraska, but Christians, Americans, parents and grandparents, and part of the family of God’s children that lives all over this planet. But what do we bring to the conversation as Nebraska Episcopalians in particular?
As Nebraskans, we have a strong connection to the land. Nebraska is still a primarily rural state. We are aware of the weather; we know the effects of unseasonable weather patterns, of storms and temperature fluctuations and rainfall patterns on our lives and livelihoods. As farmers and hunters, Nebraskans are aware of the migration patterns of animals. And we are in the heart of the spring flyway for many migratory birds, including the Sandhill cranes, and are aware of the effects climate change has already had on some bird populations and the potential for more dramatic effects in the future.
Several of the theological reasons for caring about climate change can be summarized by consideration of the Great Commandment Jesus gave us: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Loving God with our entire being entails sharing God’s love for creation, and being reverent towards God’s good creation. God gave humankind dominion over creation, and climate change brings a great threat of species extinction. Engaging our hearts, souls, and minds in caring for the Earth is part of loving God the Creator.
Love for our neighbors calls us to focus on the effects of climate change on human beings. Flooding, famine, and other effects of climate change on human populations tend to have their first and worst effects on the poorest people of the world. Caring about the people whose homes and lives are threatened by climate change is part of loving our neighbors in the global community.
The Episcopal Church endorses the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One of the MDGs is to ensure environmental stability, which includes climate stability. The eight MDGs are interrelated, though; climate stability is bound up with the eradication of hunger, with combating malaria and other diseases, with developing global partnerships for development, and in reducing child mortality. The MDGs give Episcopalians a framework for loving our neighbors around the world, and point clearly to climate change as a focal point for truly caring about our brothers and sisters.
Our baptismal covenant binds us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Given the potential for climate change to widen the gap between poor people and rich people and to cause famine, flooding, the displacement of large numbers of people, and possibly wars as resources become scarcer, our baptismal covenant calls us to pay attention to climate change. The baptismal covenant also binds us to resist evil and, whenever we fall into sin, to repent and return to God. The Catechism in The Book of Common Prayer says that sin is “the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.” Choosing our own convenience over a healthy relationship with God’s creation is sin.
I’ve had wonderful conversations with people in the Diocese of Nebraska who are very clear about the interconnectedness of creation care, love of neighbor, and love of God. People who care for ranchland, grow crops, and care for gardens understand the importance of creation care; people who know the beauty of Nebraska sunsets, the starry skies in the Sandhills, and the wonder of the annual crane migration understand that God’s creation is good and that God’s love for us and our love for God are connected to our experiences of the goodness of creation.
You can go to http://www.blogactionday.org/ to follow the conversation about climate change from the context of other blogs with a wide variety of topics. The website also suggests ways that people who feel moved to take action to curb greenhouse gas emissions can get involved.