Tuesday, March 31, 2015


— Reflections by Doug Wingeier, member of the Steering Committee
Every Wednesday since before "Shock and Awe," Carol and I have joined a small group of activists in a peace vigil in front of our local courthouse.  Recently, in place of signs like "All Wars Are Civil Wars," "Health Care Not Warfare," "War Is Not the Answer," and "Beware the Military-Industrial Complex," I have started holding a sign reading "Carbon Free or Die!" When my fellow vigil-ers questioned why the change of focus from world peace to the environment, I replied that climate change is the greatest threat to global security the world has ever faced.
Reflecting on my years as a missionary teacher at Trinity Theological College in Singapore, and then on the Garrett-Evangelical faculty,-I now realize that during all those years I completely missed out on addressing the most crucial mission issue of all time — saving the planet. Only recently have I belatedly become a climate activist. Of course, we recycle, hang out our laundry, use CFL bulbs, and drive a hybrid. We've even installed 20 solar panels on our roof. Also, every year we spend a couple of weeks in our 150-year-old log cabin situated in central Minnesota which has no electricity or running water. There we enjoy a very simple life — reading by oil lamp and candlelight, outhouse comfort, vegetarian diet, sleeping sundown to sunup. (Of course, it does take fossil fuel to get us there.)
Our nearby daughter and son-in-law live a simple life year-round — eating vegetarian, growing their own food, tapping maple trees, baking bread, making beer and apple cider, heating by wood stove, buying organic eggs and raw milk from their Amish neighbors, using a composting toilet. By choice they have adopted a "resilient" lifestyle — organic gardening, drying laundry in the sun, cutting firewood, minimizing reliance on fossil fuels, living close to the land.
But these life-style changes won't really touch the enormity of the crisis that faces what Bill McKibben calls our “EAARTH” — this spelling to emphasize that we now live on a different planet than the one we were born into. Australian environmentalist Paul Gilding, in his book The Great Disruption, has described "why the climate crisis will bring on the end of shopping and the birth of a new world." Now, in her 2014 blockbuster book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Naomi Klein contends that confronting climate change is "no longer about changing lightbulbs; it's about changing the world. We've been told that the market will save us when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper. Getting off fossil fuels requires breaking every rule in the 'free market' playbook: reigning in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, reclaiming our democracies."
"Climate change," she says, "is a civilizational wake-up call, a powerful message delivered in the language of fires, floods, storms, and droughts that are rapidly increasing in intensity and frequency. Ideological climate deniers, corporate “extractivists,” market fundamentalists, postmillennial biblicists elevating "faith" over stewardship, green billionaires promoting fanciful geo-engineering "miracle" solutions, and the ill-conceived alliance of Big Business and Big Green are all exposed and debunked as illusory, diversionary tactics which may seek to postpone while actually hastening the inevitable End.
While never minimizing the desperate nature of the environmental crisis, Klein does offer signs of hope: not from politicians, plutocrats or parliamentarians, but from grassroots movements, uprisings, marches, blockades, and divestment.campaigns:
 — a struggle against a gold mine in Greece,
— a showdown over shale gas exploration in Romania,
 — a demonstration against seismic testing for fracking by the Mi'kmaq First Nation in New Brunswick,
— a Greenpeace protest in the Russian Arctic against drilling under the Arctic ice,
— multiple local efforts to stop the Keystone XL pipeline,
— Appalachia residents rising up to prevent mountain top removal from destroying their land, health, and culture,
 — local community ordinances banning fracking, and — of course
— the 400,000 who marched through Manhattan on September 21, 2014, to speak out passionately for the natural world and the human family.
In the face of imminent global catastrophe, our top mission priority can be nothing else but to join this growing mass movement now emerging from below to confront the Powers, keep fossil fuels in the ground, develop and use alternative sources of energy, and create a life-enhancing, people- and earth-friendly system and way of life before it is too late. It is the people rising up who have brought about the abolition of slavery, the eight-hour day, the enfranchisement of women, Third World independence from colonial powers, the overthrow of dictators in the Near East, and the legalization of marriage equality. In the words of Klein's closing challenge: Now is the time "...not only to denounce the world as it is, and build fleeting pockets of liberated space. [We] must be the catalyst to actually build the world that will keep us all safe. The stakes are simply too high, and time too short, to settle for anything less."
If "the Earth is the Lord's and all that is in it" (Psalm 24:1), will we stand idly by and let it be destroyed?
If "God so loved the world that he gave...," (John 3:16), will we join with God in this utter loving and giving?
I write this during the National Preach-In on Global Warming, Feb. 13-15, 2015. May our prayers end efforts be blended in the spirit of these words composed for this observance:
"We hold the Earth. We hold brothers and sisters who suffer from storms and droughts intensified by climate change.

“We hold all species who suffer. We hold world leaders delegated to make decisions for life. We pray that the web of life may be mended through courageous actions to limit carbon emissions world wide. We pray for right actions for adaptation and mitigation to help our already suffering earth community. We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as communities so that we may, with integrity, look into the eyes of brothers and sisters and all beings and truthfully say we are doing our part to care for them and the future of the children. May Love transform us and our world with new steps toward life."