by Rebecca Roman
While Christians may be divided on the science of climate change, I think we can agree that the way we are living now is not sustainable in the long-term. In particular, industrialized countries are consuming more resources than we are producing.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, in high-income countries in 2017 about 27 metric tons of natural resources were used to meet the needs of each person, 9.8 metric tons of which were extracted elsewhere in the world. Globally, consumption of natural resources increased by 50 percent from 1990 to 2017.
It’s somewhat unclear who first coined the phrase, “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good” (brainyquote.com attributes it to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.). This is an accusation occasionally thrown at Christians, or sometimes by Christians to other groups of Christians.
In contrast, C. S. Lewis posits that “if you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next” (Mere Christianity).
Our first two features in this issue (pp. 6–13) make a theological case for why Christians should be so “heavenly minded” that they do, in fact, care for the earth. Scripture reminds us of how God is revealed through nature (Psalm 19, Romans 1, among others). Humanity’s stewardship of the earth is a God-given commission.
In Paul Thiessen’s feature (pp. 17–18), he concludes that the more we know about the creation around us, “the more likely [we are] to cherish [it] with God-honouring care.”
As Christians, we have a mandate to be at the forefront of caring for creation.
With that in mind, for Lent my husband and I have committed to rethinking our consumption habits. Unless it’s something we need, we don’t buy it without careful consideration.
I’m also thinking of the plastic we bring into our home. While some plastic can be (and is) recycled, it’s more complicated and requires more resources than recycling glass or metals. And, because plastic gets weaker as it gets recycled, the ultimate destination of all plastic is the landfill—or the ocean. (For more information on issues with plastic recycling, a great resource is the “Recycling! Is it BS?” episode on the How to Save a Planet podcast.)
Reducing plastic, however, is not a simple process. When a plastic-packaged four-pack of bell peppers at the local grocery store costs less than the ones sold individually (which can be put into a reusable produce bag), it’s clear the problem is not only at the consumer level.
This is why the For the Love of Creation campaign highlighted by Karri Munn-Venn (pp. 14–16) includes advocacy as a core component. “The scale of the problem requires government action,” she says.
In a recent sketch from CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, “Hey How’s it Goin’? Gameshow,” contestants are challenged to distract the host from thinking about COVID. In the end, a contestant wins by referencing climate change. The situation of exchanging one hopeless state-of-the-earth for another is played for laughs.
Creation care is a complicated and often heavy topic. We can be left feeling hopeless at the current state of the earth, just as when dealing with the ongoing pandemic. However, as we look to Christ and our future hope, may we instead be inspired to prayer, advocacy and action.