by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
One of the latest examples of gridlock in Washington occurred this morning when my fellow Republicans on the Senate's Environment and PublicWorks (EPW) Committee boycotted a confirmation vote for Gina McCarthy to become the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Without the Republicans, the committee didn't have a quorum, and so no vote could be taken.
Across the nation, Christians are sick and tired of Washington's gridlock. We want decisions and not political games. To that end, in March I organized a group of Christian leaders to pray on the lawn of the US Capitol for an end to gridlock; around the country Christians joined us in prayer -- including the states from where these Republican senators on the EPW Committee come from. We prayed that our elected officials would seek common ground for the good of our nation.
I'm on record supporting Gina's nomination. She has excellent qualifications, has the record of listening to all sides, and even has the support of many in industry. I consider her a "good cop" in protecting the health of our children. Even a few weeks ago, not a single Republican during her EPW nomination hearing questioned Ms McCarthy's qualifications. Senator Sessions (AL) even stated she would be confirmed.
If a Senator, Democrat, or Republican, wishes to vote no on Ms McCarthy's nomination, that's their right. But cast a vote, and live by our American democracy and way of life. Too many of our service men and women put their lives on the line everyday (including my own son) to protect our way of life to have Senators play such games.
If Congress doesn't like the Clean Air or the Clean Water Act that protects our children's lives and health, then change the law -- that's part of their job. Just don't play games with the "top cop" for environmental health whose job is to enforce what Congress already passed.
Give Gina McCarthy the confirmation votes she deserves, and let's put in place the "top cop" to protect our children from pollution.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Today we spent a full day visiting Fombe village in the Chickhwawa district. We met with many of the families (all farmers) and learned a lot about how they are trying to adapt to the changing and uncertain rainfall. We heard story after story of farmers telling us that before the rains used to come in October now they come in December. Here's a group of us in Fombe village today.
When the rains do come they come in downpours leading to significant flooding problems in the surrounding villages. Here's an adaptation dam built to correct a deviated river flow that threatened to destroy several homes in the village.
This year was a good year for rain, but checking on actual official measurements that meant a 6 week rainy season for the year. In that span there were two significant days of rain and no rain after Feb. 17th. These farmers have already abandoned using corn crops for millet. Even that is only enough to last three to four months of the year. So this good year was still not nearly sufficient for survivial.
The next step for food is widespread adaptation of conservation agriculture which involves a specific planting method that keeps nutrients and moisture in the soil. Some farmers are using this new method with success, but there is a long way still to go.
by Alexei Laushkin
Energy poverty is a major challenge when it comes to climate change and Malawi. Only 6% of the country has acess to electricity, with the vast majority of that power coming from centralized grid systems in the cities. Without energy you are literally in the dark.
Here's an example of the sort of energy access available in one of the villages we visited.
This is what energy poverty looks like in the villages of Malawi. This is the only light this family owns. That's it. When it's the middle of the night this lights an entire room. Other than this light the only other option is to start a fire. It's hard to develop without access to energy. One of the keys to overcoming climate change is turning energy poverty into energy prosperity. Decentralized energy in the form of solar, biomass, and mini-hydro are among the market based innovations that will be key.
Without clean and safe sources of energy children suffer. Indoor air pollution is a leading cause for health problems for children in Africa. Women are also susceptible to burns when cooking over large open flames like you see below.
Cleaner burning stoves and solar stoves are an important adaptation that cuts down on the amount of wood needed to heat a stove. But in addition to the cooking needs, addressing energy needs through market based mini-grids are key to helping entrepreneurship thrive. Finding ways to build wealth capacity among the poorest of the poor is one of the best ways to combat the impacts of climate change on these rural communities. Access to food, water, new crop methods, energy, and cleaner stoves are all key to making the prospects for Africa's children much brighter.
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Our U.S. team are all in country today. We spent the morning meeting with representatives from the government, church, and civil society to hear reports on climate impacts and how they're responding. Their stories and reports were startling. More than once we heard "the challenge and level of response needed is comparable to our efforts around HIV/AIDS."
They have seen a six fold increase in major events which include droughts and floods. The predictability of planting no longer exists. Short rainy seasons are the norm. The result is that in this country where 80% of the 14 million people subside off the land, is real insecurity around food and a major impact on cotton and tobacco sales.
We made the beautiful drive down from Lilongwe to Blantyre in the afternoon and will spend all day tomorrow visiting some local villages to hear first hand testimony.
Thursday, April 11, 2013, was a good day. First, I had the honor to speak with one of my senators, Bob Casey, and thank him for continuing to stand firm in protecting our children from mercury poisoning. During the recent Senate budget vote-a-thon,Senator Casey voted no on an amendment offered by Senator Coats that would have delayed the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. These standards are critical to reducing the one in six babies born with threatening levels of mercury. Senator Casey understands that protecting our children from toxic chemicals both inside and outside the womb is a pro-life issue.
Additionally, I asked Senator Casey to support Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. "Why?" asked theSenator. I replied, "Gina and I have become friends over the last several years and I am confident she will make an excellent EPA Administrator. She is a good cop for protecting our childrenand considers all viewpoints." (Please see my March 4 post.) Senator Casey was a bit surprised that that a former coal miner's son personally knew the EPA Administrator nominee. Hopefully, my opinions were helpful as the Senator expressed his support for Gina.
Second, I was privileged to attend the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee confirmation hearing of Gina McCarthy. Right before the hearing I told Gina I was praying for her. I continued praying in the EPW hearing room. My prayers were for peace and wisdom not only for Gina but also for all the senators. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of Washington's partisanship. It's long past time for all America,including our elected and appointed political leaders, to work together. And yesterday demonstrated that prayer works.
From the beginning of the Obama Administration my fellow Republicans have used the EPA as their favorite political punching bag. Here's the problem with that: no one should try to score political points at the expense of our children's health.
But I'm proud to say that las tweek's hearing was respectful all around. The top Republican (or Ranking Member) Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) did have some tough things to say about the EPA, but treated Gina fairly, as did the rest of my fellow Republicans on the EPW Committee. I especially liked Senator Sessions approach,and the prediction that Gina would be confirmed.
Last week was more proof in power of prayer. I'll continue prayers for Gina as she leads the EPA, but I will also pray for all our elected and appointed leaders. I would encourage you to do the same.
Christians Gather to Pray for National Challenges
Bipartisan Leadership Needed to Tackle Immigration, Entitlement Reform, Poverty,Environmental Health, & Unemployment
Our nation faces critical challenges, and in this time of extreme partisan politics, the inability of our government to take action impacts the nation and the world. The Christian church cannot idly withdraw its presence. Christians are ambassadors of our loving God,and we need to take action. Coming from our evangelical tradition, the first action remains prayer.
Prayer Vigil Program
Purpose and Call To Prayer
Greetings and Introductions of Elected Officials Present
Matthew 5:1-14 (NIV)
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain side and sat down. His disciples came tohim, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 "Blessedare the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessedare you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds ofevil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 "You arethe salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
God of all ages,
in your sight nations rise and fall, and pass through time of peril.
Now when our land is troubled,be near to judge and save.
May leaders be led by your wisdom;
may they search your will and see clearly.
If we have turned from your way,
reverse our ways and help us to repent.
Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us;
through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.
(Presbyterian USA Worship book)
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people" 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Prayer For All Government Leaders
God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President and other government leaders of these United States.
May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice, and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Look graciously, O Lord, upon our nation and its leaders.
Where there is pride, subdue it.
Where there is need provide it.
Where there is error, rectify it.
Where there is fault, correct it.
And where we hold tothat which is just and compassionate, support it. Amen
Proverbs 1:20-21 (NIV)
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
Lord, I pray for all government officials.
I pray for the president, that he may conduct the affairs of national government with wisdom, bravery, and true justice.
I pray for the members of Congress that they may truly represent the needs of the people, and work in harmony for the advancement of all men, women, and children.
I pray for the judges that rule the courts of our land, that they may balance justice with mercy, and civil law with divine mandate.
Grant all of our national,state, and local leaders the gifts of wisdom, justice, counsel, and fortitude,that they may conduct the affairs of humanity in accord with the will of God.
Grant to all the gift of respect for lawful authority, justly exercised, that we may live as a united people, one nation under God.
May all the governments of the world seek to reconcile power with the needs of society. May they all strive to form bonds of unity between countries, that we may one day share a united world of prosperity and peace. Amen. (based on Praying for Our Nation)
Philippians 2:1-12 (NIV)
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death"
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to workout your salvation with fear and trembling,
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
by Gary Bergel
Consider the unusual preparation and devotion of Patrick, Apostle to Ireland:
Accounts vary concerning the exact place of Patricius Magonus Sucatus's birth to his Roman parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were living in some region of Britain in the year 387. At age 16 Patrick was kidnapped in a raid and taken as a slave to Ireland and put to work as a shepherd. In captivity he turned to God in intense and desperate prayer and drew comfort and instruction from the Christian faith that he and so many others had abandoned under Roman rule. During this unusual time of "preparation," he learned the language and customs of the Irish people who held him - thus becoming familiar with the pagan and druidic practices. He escaped after six years (some say by angelic direction in a dream) was recaptured, returned, and escaped again after two years.
photo by Patrick Dockens used through flickr creative commons license.
Discipled by Germanus of Auxerre for over 10 years, Patrick was ordained about 417, consecrated as a Bishop in 432 and was sent to replace Bishop Palladius in Ireland, who had been largely ineffective in bringing the Irish to Christ. Patrick landed in 433, boldly presented the claims of Christ, penetrated the clan and entered into strategic spiritual warfare with regional chieftains. Patrick's strategy was to convert chief's first, who would then convert their clans. His former slave master, chief Milchu, was one of his earliest converts.
In direct defiance to an edit by the King and local druidic priests, Patrick lighted an Easter Vigil fire honoring the resurrected Christ, "the light of the world." The druidic priests sensed spiritual authority and anointing on Patrick and prophesied: "this fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze forever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished." They tried, but it continued to burn despite many physical and spiritual efforts to extinguish it.
Christianity spread throughout Ireland and Patrick discipled hundreds in his Celtic order of Christianity who went out, penetrated, and effectively evangelized many regions of Europe. There is a resurgence of Celtic Christianity today among multitude of young adults and young-at-heart believers who are hungering for an incarnational faith. Patrick's "fire" continues to burn.
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
"You are the light of the world.... Let your light shine before men." Matthew 5:14-16
We bind ourselves to you, and your Name to us, this day Lord Jesus, as Patrick and his band did in their day.
Listen in as Alexei talks with Sandra McCracken an independent singer-songwriter whose smart, soulful blend of folk and gospel is as progressive as it is timeless. Alexei and Sandra talk about her latest album Desire Like Dynamite. They talk about creation care, the themes of creation, and new creation, CS Lewis, mountain top removal, forgiveness, desire, beauty, and much more
You won't want to miss this. Be sure to listen in!
Our nation faces critical challenges, and in this time of extreme partisan politics, the inability of our government to take action impacts the nation and the world. The Christian church can not idly withdraw its presence. Christians are ambassadors of our loving God, and we need to take action. Coming from our evangelical tradition, the first action remains prayer.
Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Scripture clearly requires the Church to act as peacemakers. In an attempt to breakthrough our partisan divide, and witness our faith in a positive effort, onTuesday, March 19, 2013, The Evangelical Environment Network (EEN) is organizing a prayer vigil on the west front lawn of the US Capitol. All are invited to join as the Church prays for the Administration and both chambers of Congress to overcome political differences and seek common ground for the good of our nation.
Together, we face many problems and leadership from both political parties is required. Sequestration, Immigration, Tax Reform, A National Budget, Deficits, Poverty, and Environmental Health are but a few of the impasses that have been punted down the road without action.
This prayer service is not a time to rally for a particular position, but to come together and seek God's wisdom for our political leaders. Many of us come from different traditions and varying views on the issues before us. Our heartfelt vision calls the Church to come as one and pray for God's Spirit to break the partisan divide and empower our elected leaders for decision-making.
Each of you is encouraged to attend the gathering, share this announcement, and participate. If you wish to lead a prayer or share Scripture, please contact me.
Congress and the Administration will receive invitations.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
Listen in this week as Alexei talks with Dr. Matthew Sleeth of Blessed Earth about his new book 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life. They talk about the benefits of simpler living, the origin of the Sabbath, and how resting can be a key tool in reducing patterns of consumption and even pollution. Be sure to listen in!
By Beth Luthye, Grant Writer
My pastor recently taught on the story of a wedding at Cana in John 2:1-11"a little event that would probably have gone unrecorded had it not been where Jesus performed his first public miracle, turning water into wine.
This was a puzzling choice, perhaps, for a first miracle. It was much less flashy than, say, giving sight to the blind. And, at first glance, it seems so much less important. Sure, the hosts were sort of panicked, but resurrecting a party isn't exactly on par with giving life back to a young girl or setting free the oppressed, is it?
They say first impressions matter, though, so what would this coming-out miracle have revealed about Jesus? What did it reveal about his love? About the kingdom of God?
The Scripture passage says there were six stone jars, each with the capacity to hold 20 to 30 gallons of water. We don't know exactly how many guests were at this wedding, but surely 120 to 180 gallons of wine would have been more than enough to finish out a nuptial celebration.
I'm sure there is much more to say about this water-into-wine event, but I've held onto an observation my pastor made that is both simple and beautiful: God's kingdom is one of abundance.
And yet, it's sometimes hard to line up this picture of abundance with what we know of the world.
There are 925 million seriously hungry people in our world. People who dream and people who love. People who are children and grandchildren, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. People who clearly don't have enough.
And yet, there is the promise of a Kingdom of Enough.
Plant With Purpose works for the transformation of poor, rural farming families by turning scarcity into enough. Enough food on the table. Enough nutrition for children. Enough income to send those children to school. Enough opportunity for a better tomorrow. Enough hope to hold onto.
The Irish talk about "thin places""where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and the two meet. Those places where the miraculous seeps into the mundane.
I'm thinking some of those thin places are ethereal and breathtaking"the kind of spots you'd want to capture in photographs and post on Amazing Things in the World. But some of the most beautiful thin places are simply meager plots of land in tiny communities far, far off the beaten path. Places where the hard, back-breaking work of women and men is turning into more food for their families. Places where land is being restored and hope is being renewed. Places where parents are making the most of their opportunities so that their children can make the most of their futures. Places where communities are celebrating the miracle of enough.
Contact: Alexei Laushkin,Evangelical Environmental Network, 202-352-9920
A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network On the Nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the Next EPA Administrator:
"Protecting our children's health testifies to the moral character of our nation. With one in three American children now suffering from asthma, autism, ADHD, and allergies, all linked to environmental toxins, we need someone to champion our kids' health. Gina McCarthy's nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places her in the position of our country's top cop on children's environmental health. We support her nomination wholeheartedly. Ms McCarthy's record as a champion for our children in Massachusetts under Governor Romney, running Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection, and as Assistant EPA Administrator, testifies to her ability to get the job done.
In my experience, Gina is tough, but also fair. She listens to all sides and strikes a balance in enforcing our nation's laws.
We are a nation who lives by the rule of law. It's been over twenty years since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and only now are important portions of that law being enforced, such as reducing mercury pollution. Our children's health must be protected, and Gina McCarthy is the good cop we need to get the job done.
by Ben Lowe
"The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for Him there." " George Bernard Shaw
Over the past growing season, I have been managing a community garden in the ethnically diverse low-income apartment complex that I call home. I live in this apartment complex as part of a group of friends from various local churches. Together, we work with our neighbors to seek the welfare of our community.
Life is hard for our neighbors. Most of them are either first generation immigrants or refugees from war-torn countries such as Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, and Burma. Leaving behind everything and everyone they know, they move entire families into small one-bedroom apartments in an unknown country. They do this to stay alive, and with the hope that their children may one day have a future worth working for.
There are a total of one hundred and twenty apartment units in the complex, and the community garden provides us with an opportunity to grow healthy and sustainable food while developing love and respect for one another and the land. This can be especially meaningful for many of our neighbors who come from agrarian backgrounds.
The planting season launched with lots of ideas, enthusiasm, and participation from all ages and cultures. We ran soil nutrient tests with the help of a geology professor from nearby Wheaton College, and then found someone willing to donate a couple tons of sand to help improve the soil quality. We also received generous contributions of tools and seedlings, and spent productive hours tilling the ground, building a fence, separating individual plots out, and laying down mulch. The kids were especially involved and never seemed to run out of energy to help. So we designated a kids plot and helped them plant a variety of veggies and flowers there.
I wish we could say that this is how well the rest of the summer went. I wish we could report that the garden brought our community together in an unprecedented way"healing lives, restoring land, and producing basketfuls of vegetables for all to share.
To be honest, however, our reality has been unexpectedly challenging and my dominant sentiment towards the garden has often been one of frustration: frustration with those who signed up but never actually planted their plots; frustration with those who planted their plots but never watered or weeded them; frustration with the lack of sunlight the garden gets, which makes for some sorry looking tomato and pepper plants; frustration with the damage that strong storms over the summer have caused, especially when a gust of wind blew an upstairs window out of its frame and the glass shattered all over the kids plot; and frustration at the infamous "garden wars", which broke out over petty disagreements about who got to water whose plot. This particular conflict escalated to the point that an entire plot was destroyed in an act of retaliation, which led to the police being called out and a furious resident marching up and down the complex yelling down curses on her neighbors for three continuous hours.
Things became so exasperating that I started to question whether all the time, money and effort was really worth it. After all, it would be far easier to simply walk across the street and buy the equivalent of our total harvest from the produce section at Jewel (a local grocery store).
But the more I think about it the more my frustration turns to wonder and gratitude. With everything that went wrong this summer, the garden project should have failed. Instead, while pushing through the discouragement"we even held an all-night prayer vigil in the garden after one particularly rough patch"we have begun to see modest but promising signs of healthy progress. New friendships have begun to form, our piece of land is now in better shape in every way than when we started, many of the kids have come to love and protect their plots, and some families have harvested enough tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro from their plots in order to make some salsa. The garden is not all that we hoped it would be. But, against many odds, it has grown into something good. And we will build on this year's foundation in the seasons ahead, trusting that God will continue to accomplish his purposes through our weak but devoted efforts. As Duane Litfin, President Emeritus at Wheaton College, once put it in a chapel message: "You have a plan. God has a plan. Yours doesn't matter."
Recently one of my young neighbors came to the door with a huge smile on her face and filthy hands from being in the garden. "Look at what we grew," she declared proudly, "it's our very own cucumber!" A simple cucumber may not be worth much in the eyes of the world, but in this case it was worth the world in the eyes of the little girl.
Our community garden efforts remind me that we are broken and sinful people living in a broken and sinful world. It can be easy to look at the problems we face and despair. But we press on by the power of the Holy Spirit because in Christ we have the victory over sin, and by grace we see hopeful signs that His kingdom is coming even now.
Listen in as Alexei talks with Margaret Feinberg about her latest book "Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God." They talk about creation care, forgiveness, and living a life of wonder. Margaret is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive and Extraordinary Women. She was recently named one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today by Christianity Today, one of the 30 Voices who will help lead the church in the next decade by Charisma magazine and one of the '40 Under 40' who will shape Christian publishing by Christian Retailing magazine. Margaret currently lives in Morrison, Colorado, with her husband, Leif and their superpup, Hershey. Be sure to listen in.
The President issued a challenge on climate change during Tuesday's State of the Union Address.
Now, the good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue [climate change] while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.
But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.
I for one hope Congress takes up this challenge from the President and acts. Climate change is a moral challenge for all America. It's not a liberal or a conservative issue, but a matter of life. Each American already feels our changing climate. Food prices have risen from extreme weather events like the record-breaking 2012 drought that consumed two-thirds of our nation. Transportation slowed to a standstill on the Mississippi River as water levels reached historic lows. Superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast, and the recent blizzard paralyzed New England. Massive forest fires, extreme weather, sea-level rise have all become the new normal. All of these events are in keeping with human-caused climate change, and the extremes will only intensify.
Last fall, I preached at a local Harrisburg, PA church. Between worship services, I talked with a disabled man living in poverty. During the summer's long-lasting heat wave, this individual, who lives in an upstairs apartment without air conditioning, was overcome by the excessive heat and passed out. Only by God's grace and the caring action of a neighbor who found him unconsciousness and called 911 was he saved from death.
Excessive heat, extreme weather, water shortages, and destroyed crops are just the tip of the iceberg. All America will suffer, but our poor and the world's poor will suffer the most. Indeed, they are already suffering. Some estimates put the annual death toll from climate change at 300,000, and countless others have fled from devastated cropland, water shortages, flooding, and sea level rise. Conflict arises as scarce resources force survival competition. People already suffer, and it will only get worse unless we act now.
We need a comprehensive American plan to battle our changing climate. Climate change remains the greatest threat to our security, prosperity, and way of life. As my colleague, The Dr. Rev. Jim Ball, so forcibly states, "Climate Change is the greatest moral challenge of our time." Yet with action now, we can limit the loss of life, and stave off the worst of the crisis. America must act and act now. Climate change no longer is up for debate. The science is clear and compelling, but meaningful action requires all of us.
The choice is simple. We can work together and forge a brighter America or shirk our responsibility and have regulations that make the choice for us. Buy-in from all America, including Congress, seems the best solution, but without Congressional leadership, we must act, our future and all God's children depend on it.
Many American businesses already have picked up the gauntlet. They not only understand climate change threats, but also see the opportunity. Corporate giants like Wal-Mart, Dow Chemical, M&M-Mars, Duke Energy, Exelon, and many others see new markets and increased profits as they take moral leadership. Individuals across our nation reduce waste and save energy, but we must come together with a national plan.
We can start with a national effort to strengthen and coordinate planning to address the extreme weather events that cannot be avoided. Improving our infrastructure from electric transmission to bridges and highways must be a priority. Also increased energy efficiency standards need incentives. However, a price on carbon pollution remains the single most effective way to address climate change.
Pricing carbon must happen, and President Obama issued the challenge. Can Congress find a bipartisan market-based approach? Or by our in action will court-ordered Clean Air Act regulations have to take effect? Which will Congress and the American public choose?
Above all else, America needs to be the leader. The new party line for many of my fellow Republicans is, "Climate Change is real, but with China and India now as the largest carbon pollution emitters, any effort on our part would be negligible."
First, my mother told me that two wrongs don't make a right. Second, we are responsible for much of the existing carbon already warming our world, and third, moral leadership works.
Over the last two years, The Evangelical Environmental Network, The National Association of Evangelicals, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops worked hard to see the Clean Air Act enforced to reduce mercury emissions from coal burning that is poisoning our children. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards became law and our efforts provided the U.S State Department the moral authority necessary to secure the first ever-international mercury treaty. While this treaty isn't perfect, it is agreat step forward in protecting our children, especially the unborn from mercury poisoning.
Leadership works. We commend the President for his moral leadership in overcoming the threat of climate change. May Congress and all America join together, rise to this great challenge as we have done with other great challenges in the past, and work together to solve the climate crisis.
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
A York Plan for climate change
First published in the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com
We all agree on the need to protect our children. The recent Sandy Hook tragedy broke our hearts, and yet we still expose our children to larger threats every day.Asthma rates are soaring; toxins exposure is on the rise from our energysources, plastics, pesticides and building materials. Studies are showing thelinks between environmental toxins and the epidemic rise in autism, ADHD and breast cancer. These toxins have serious impacts on our children.
Extreme weather also threatens our kids - 2012 was the year without winter; drought ravaged two-thirds of the U.S., winter storm Euclid spewed December tornadoes, andSuperstorm Sandy affected millions as it tore though the Mid-Atlantic coast.
Corn and soybean prices,thanks to the drought, remain at all-time highs, and 50,000 additional NewYorkers faced Sandy's storm damage from rising sea levels.
Yes, 2012 was quite theyear, and it's only the tip of the iceberg for tomorrow. Extreme weather eventsare not an anomaly, but the new normal, increasing in both frequency andintensity. Perhaps even more alarming is a recent insurance industry study thatranks the U.S. as the seventh most at-risk nation for extreme weather. Notsince Pearl Harbor has the U.S. seen this sort of threat to our homeland.
Will Sandy, the drought,and other extreme weather be our Pearl Harbor moment?
We need to mobilize anational effort to defeat extreme weather; overcoming our new normal will require common purpose and commitment. Not since WWII have we as a nation accomplished the same energy efficiency and national commitment that we need today in order to defeat the causes of amplified extreme weather.
Fortunately, we have amodel created here in York County, PA as our guide.
In February 1942, agroup of York business and community leaders gathered and drafted the York Plan. The 15-point plan called for shared expertise, sought cooperation, not competitiveness, joint resources and cared for the health, housing and fairwages for all. The York Plan, adapted quickly for national use, provided the blueprint to defeat a common threat; our society came together to find solutions, work in harmony, remain competitive and value its employees. We need to rekindle the York Plan, defeat our latest threat, and protect our children.
Let's acknowledgeinitial attempts to address extreme weather solutions came from the wrong direction. Unfortunately, too many pushed for government-based solutions as the first step. This approach further fractured our already polarized American populace. Instead, the best solutions, as illustrated by the historic York Plan, come from businesses, industry and community leaders as they initialize aplan that involves common sense approaches that unite us in common purpose.
Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Dow Chemical, Wal-Mart, M&M/Mars, and York Container alreadylead the way. They understand the need to address the systemic roots to extreme weather, the necessity for clean energy, and they know what it takes to do sowhile helping the economy.
Dow Chemical, for example, invested $2 billion in the past decade or so for $9 billion savings in energy efficiency. Wal-Mart reduced its distribution costs and subsequent energy savings by 69 percent. Newsweek recently issued its fourth worldwide report on those companies leading the way. If we wish to protect our children,our economy, and creative meaningful employment, America needs to unite.
Our community, individual lives, national policy and assistance to the poor must focus on protecting our children and their future. Every local chamber of commerce, manufacturing association, trade group, labor union, and all community stakeholders can build a recipe for success unique to local resources,capabilities and circumstances. Just as the York Plan matched local talents,our new All America Plan to protect our children must seek national goals with community-focused strategies.
Let's make York County a model community to save our kids. One group, Stewardship For Prosperity, has already made the first steps, but we can do more. We need a challenge to bring us together - and protecting our children's health should be that challenge.There is simply too much at stake to do nothing.
We have the technology to defeat extreme weather threats, but we lack the will. Using the original York Plan provides the historic roots, and as a person of deep Christian faith, I find that Jesus provides the courage. The author of the Book of Hebrews combines both and said it best 2,000 years ago:
"Therefore, sincewe are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
The Rev. Mitchell C.Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environment Network. He lives in NewFreedom.
Listen in as Alexei Laushkin talks to Dr. Seth Bible the Director of Student Life at Southeastern Theological Seminary. Dr. Bible is the co-author along with Dr. Mark Liederbach of True North: Christ, the Gospel, and Creation Care. They talk about how Jesus gives us the clearest guidance when it comes to our care of God's Creation. Be sure to listen in!
by Eugene Peterson
When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalm 114 ESV)
The most striking thing about Psalm 114 is its imagery: the sea fleeing and Jordan running away, the mountains and hills skipping like rams and lambs, the rock and flint gushing streams of water. This is prayer that is immersed in an awareness of the creation, at home in the earth, sensitive to the life of the nonhuman aspects of the environment.
On second look, it turns out that the prayer is not about nature, but about history: an event " the Exodus from Egypt " is being prayed. On further examination, we find that there are, in fact, no 'nature' psalms " psalms about or addressed to nature " in Scripture.
There are psalms in which our experience with and know edge of sky and sea, animals and birds are used in the vocabulary of prayer, but it is always something about God, not creation, that is being prayed. Psalmists praise his act of creation (33); express awe at his incredible condescension in in including humans in a responsible position (8); juxtapose the twin glories of sky and law to reveal God's design (19); marvel at the scheme of providence so impressively worked out in the intricate interrelations of light, wind, cloud, oceans, springs, birds, fish, storks, badgers, people at work, and people at praise (104). But the psalms are never about nature; always they are about God.
The biblical poets did not go in for "nature appreciation." In fact, they were vehemently opposed to it. Their opposition was quite deliberate, for the Hebrews' neighbors all prayed to nature. The most prominent aspects of nature are fecundity and destruction: the hidden processes of birth in earth and womb on the one hand, and on the other hand, the terrible forces of volcano, earthquake, and storm that are quite beyond any prediction or control. The Canaanites (all the surrounding nations in the extrabiblical world were much the same) were in awe of and prayed to this divinity that was beyond them. It is easy to see why they did it, for in unguarded moments we do it still. It is not easy to account for why the Hebrew chose another style of worship.
The created world around us is wondrous. Any moment that we attend to it, feelings and thoughts that seem very much like prayer. These are so spontaneous and uncontrived, so authentic and unpretentious, that there is little doubt that we are in some deep communion with a reality beyond us, with gods " or God. Compared to our experience in the scheduled hours of worship at established places of prayer, these sometimes seem more genuine, which accounts perhaps for the frequently voiced preferences for sunsets on the beach over eighteenth-century hymns in chapel.
Eugene H. Petersonis a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He has written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Navpress Publishing Group, 2002), a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible. This excerpt appeared in The Best Preaching on Earth edited by Stan L. LeQuire and published by Judson Press in collaboration with the Evangelical Environmental Network in 1996. This is the first of a four part series on the theme of Creation in the Psalms.
by Jim Ball
Just yesterday Energy Secretary Steven Chu was asked a question by a reporter about the "sequestration," in this instance an inside-the-beltway political junkie term related to the budget and the so-called fiscal cliff. He gave a long answer about carbon sequestration. When told the reporter was referring to the budget, Secretary Chu responded,
"See what a nerd I am. I didn't know what he meant."
That captures what we love about Secretary Chu: self-effacing, mildly tone-deaf politically, and simultaneously brilliant. In the self-depreciating words of President Obama, Secretary Chu is someone who "actually deserved his Nobel Prize."
In light of his announcement today that he will be stepping down as Energy Secretary, he also deserves our heartfelt thanks.
Well done, good and faithful servant.
I believe history will show that Secretary Chu has been our best Energy Secretary to date.
In his wonderfully wonky 3,800-plus word letter announcing his resignation, Secretary Chu quoted Michelangelo, Martin Luther King, and said things like this:
"The Department has made significant progress in breaking down the walls between our basic science and applied science programs " Brainstorming sessions where young scientists are encouraged to share ideas and joust with Department veterans have begun."
Secretary Chu never waivered in his idealistic desire to let the best ideas win, irrespective of rank or political ties of those proposing them. Quite inspiring.
His resignation announcement letter is filled with the tremendous accomplishments of his term, but I want to close with a quote from near the end:
"Ultimately we have a moral responsibility to the most innocent victims of adverse climate change. Those who will suffer the most are the people who are the most innocent: the world's poorest citizens and those yet to be born ... A few short decades later, we don't want our children to ask, 'What were our parents thinking? Didn't they care about us?'"
Amen. Thank you, Steve Chu.
The Rev. Jim Ball is EEN's Executive Vice President for Policy and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change.
Listen in as Alexei talks with Dr. Daniel M. Bell a professor of theological ethics at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina about his recent book The Economy of Desire Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World. They talk about the divine economy, Christian charity, the role of work in the life of the Christian, and much more.