Tag Archives: Climate Change

Politics and Faith meet in Season of Creation

Politics and faith meet in the parish this month as we celebrate the Season of Creation, with contributions from local MP Jeremy Hunt; Cllr Penny Marriott, Mayor of Waverley; Rt Rev’d Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford; and, for Harvest Festival on October 4, the Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Pat Evans.

The Season of Creation is an international, ecumenical season which runs from September 1-October 4 each year. During this time people are encouraged to focus on prayer and action to protect the planet, and we are joining in with services in the churches and here online each Sunday. The online services will feature guest contributors including the Bishop of Guildford who will preach this Sunday, September 6, on what is known as Climate Sunday, when the focus will be on the challenge of climate change. He will be joined by Cllr Penny Marriott, who will give a Bible reading and Jeremy Hunt, MP, who will read a prayer known as the Collect.

Other guests over the next few weeks include Ruth Valerio, environmentalist, theologian, social activist and author, who launched the Eco Church scheme; Ben Niblett, campaigner on poverty, injustice, climate change and fair trade who works for the Christian charity Tearfund; and the Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Pat Evans, who is passionate about local community issues.

The Season of Creation will challenge everyone to do something to help tackle the environmental crisis that is threatening the Earth. Lesley Crawley comments: “The Season of Creation helps us focus on the world we live in and our duty to care for the environment. The way we are living is causing damage to the planet and all that lives on it – humans, other animals, plants, all living things – and we are calling on everyone to take action in whatever way we all can to stop the damage and begin restoration of our world. We would like everyone to make a pledge, however small, to do something positive, whether it is walking rather than driving where possible, cutting down on the amount of meat we are eating, looking at how our clothes are manufactured and how many we buy and then throw out.

 “Please join us in person at our churches or online where we will be thinking about what we can do in the Season of Creation and long term. We are delighted that the Bishop of Guildford, the Mayor of Waverley Penny Marriott, Farnham’s mayor Pat Evans, and our local MP Jeremy Hunt are among those contributing to our online services and we continue to call for action from all areas of society.”

Everyone is welcome in the churches which have had Covid-19 precautions put in place.

My Pet Peeve – Outrage

I was thinking that one silver lining to the Coronavirus cloud would be less outrage on social media and in the tabloids – something that I find really gets me down. I thought that we would be free of this for a while because we’d all be thinking about looking after each other. What I mean by outrage is the annual cycle: “Climate Change is clearly false as we have snow”, outrage about Easter Eggs (eg being in the shops too early), outrage that we can’t fly the St George’s flag around St George’s Day, summer holidays being spoilt for some reason (traffic, foreigners), peak annual outrage around Remembrance and poppies, outrage around Christmas being spoilt for some reason (probably secularisation or Muslim people).

Then when there is a lull in seasonal outrage, this gap is filled in by outrage about a particular group – the group changes slowly over the years but in recent decades has included: youths with hoodies, benefit scroungers, migrants, single mothers, gay people…

The thing is I was wrong. It is true that people have given the weather and Easter eggs a miss this year but it has been replaced by outrage about panic buyers (particularly toilet roll buyers), in addition to outrage about youths who are breaking the rules about social distancing, and also theft and daylight robbery with respect to hand sanitiser.

In my slightly delirious state, whilst beginning to recover from Coronavirus, I tried to unpick why my pet peeve is outrage. Why do I find it so intolerable?

I think there are two reasons. The first is it creates division. After 911 there was extreme outrage about Islamic extremism that caused such destruction and loss of life. But the outrage in turn caused hate crimes against anyone who looked like they might be Arabic in descent (I know of Christians with Indian descent who had to leave the States because of this). Outrage is a form of tribalism – to be in my gang you have to agree with me and share my outrage, or risk expulsion. Given that I have spent much of my life being the outsider, I find it painful to see a process that magnifies difference and exclusion.

The second reason is that outrage can be self-righteous; the rhetoric seems to be that the people who hoard toilet rolls are beyond the pale, scum of the earth, I would never do such a thing. There is a distancing once again. I immediately start thinking: “Really? Have you never done anything selfish? Have you never acted unwisely out of fear? Have you never fiercely wanted to protect your children like a ferocious mother bear?” Surely we are all sinners, none of us are clean. Sometimes I feel the outrage is suspect in “the lady doth protest too much” way – when we express outrage, are we covering up a fear of our own shortcomings?

Also, I find outrage so un-British. I am secretly proud of being part of a race who use understatement and wit to communicate. Whilst it is endlessly frustrating to my American and German friends, I am unapologetic. I love the jokes about Brits and our maximum anger level being expressed in the term “a bit miffed”. Outrage really messes this up for me. I like to think that civility is an important part of our national identity.

But of course, I am a hypocrite – I am fine with outrage when I agree with it – outrage about inequality or prejudice or cruelty is fair game as far as I am concerned. And outrage creates social change. The outrage against the behaviour of Harvey Weinstein has almost certainly redrawn the moral map about what behaviours are acceptable from a man in power towards women in without power, and that has made life a little safer for women.

In Galatians 5, Paul explains how to live well in the Spirit. Verses 18-23 are below, but I have edited out the debauch sins as I think they can be distracting:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I am open to the idea that there is occasionally a place for outrage in our society, but I also think it needs to be tempered with love, forbearance, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Let us all ask the Holy Spirit to grow these precious fruits within us during this stressful time.



Picture by Pintera Studio from Pixabay 

Climate Change questions to ask our MP

The climate change meeting on the 12th March at 9:30am at St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, will be going ahead with constituents meeting to network and formulate environmental questions to ask our MP, Jeremy Hunt. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Jeremy is unable to join us on that day. However, we plan to meet with Jeremy on another occasion when we will present him with our core environmental concerns and look forward to having a focused meeting on an important issue.

For further information please contact Lesley on 01252 820537 or revdlesley@gmail.com.


Cathedral to host top eco-experts to inspire action on climate change

Guildford Cathedral is set to host a number of top experts on environmental issues in a public forum on climate change on 9 February (7.45 pm). Entitled Stories of Hope, it will be a chance for people of all faiths and none to meaningfully contribute to discussions on tackling climate change.

The evening is being held following the global agreement to keep the increase in global temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which was decided at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of last year.

Ben Niblett of Tearfund, Jo Musker-Sherwood of Hope for the Future, and Ruth Valerio of A Rocha UK will speak, and there will be a Q&A with Diocesan Environmental Adviser Revd Lesley Crawley.

The Bishop of Guildford, Rt Revd Andrew Watson, who will open the event said: “February 2016 is an excellent time to take stock following the Paris Summit on climate change. With a fabulous line-up of speakers I’d really encourage people to come along to this evening conference, so that we might become better stewards of the rich environment in which God has placed us.”

A Rocha UK’s Churches and Theology Director, Ruth Valerio will also help to launch ‘Eco-church’ – a programme of action and awareness-raising to help parishes make the spaces they worship more eco-friendly.

Diocesan Environmental Adviser and Farnham vicar, the Revd Lesley Crawley said: “Eco-church will offer simple and measurable ways to make a difference to the environment. I am really excited about the opportunities for environmental action in our local communities and the nation as a whole, and feel that the tide is changing for the better.”

All are welcome to attend the event, which will be an opportunity to think about how best for everyone to respond to the outcome of the recent climate talks in Paris.