Category: Creation Care

Justice and Our Participation in Injustice: Coal Dust Anyone?

Like it or not you and I are part of systems that support an more unjust world. It doesn’t need to stay that way. If change couldn’t happen, the creator wouldn’t have bothered coming into the world as a human. Change can happen, but…

The story that came to mind after I wrote the first sentence about injustice is about a city in Manila called Tondo. Tondo is one of the world’s most densely populated cities. Inside a residential area there is a business with open coal storage. What I mean is, there are huge piles of coal that come in from the harbor and are stored right next to a residential area. This wouldn’t happen if it was the mayor’s back yard.

I was at a friend’s house in Tondo a few months back and he told me by the end of the day their window sills have a visible layer of coal dust on them. Imagine how much of it they breathe then. Plus, coal dust is a carcinogen, it causes cancer. Sick. It’s gross and it’s gonna kill the children that live in the area early due to sickness and health hazards. This is avoidable if city leaders have a plan and care about their citizens. Clearly in this case they have other priorities besides what is good for humans in that neighbourhood. That’s why I’m writing about justice this week.
This story is and example of and unjust system. This is against the way life should be according to the creator. Watch this 5 min clip below and see what I mean.

Why don’t people living near coal storage move then?
I’m glad you asked.

Many of our neighbours there have lived there for generations. All of their survival and mental health mechanisms (real supportive community) is there. The benefit of moving is outweighed by abandoning all their support networks.

Secondly, many of our neighbours there don’t have the financial resources to move to a better place. They’re living on weekly wages and the capacity to save up and move to a healthier spot is not an option or top priority.
But couldn’t the national or local government help them relocate?
Good question… Let me tell you another story.

There was recently another fire in Tondo. 500+ families lost their homes and those homes were temporary. They’ve been living in that temporary housing for 7 years. Temporary? Not so much.

I was told by a local organization that there is a government budget to help people in these situations “relocate” outside of Metro Manila and receive a better house in a more dignified environment. At least that’s what I was told. I’ve never seen a relocation site in the Philippines. What’s stopping these 500 families from relocating with government help if there is a budget to move them? Votes. The 500+ families could have moved a long time ago but the local politicians appreciate their votes and use their vulnerability to bait them to stay. The politicians don’t send them away from the city and our vulnerable neighbours want all of the help they can get. This is political selfishness at it’s worst. People die because of selfishness like this. We, Jesus body on earth, the church, need to figure out how to journey with people in this kind of situation to create justice like the video outlined.

The people i described in the paragraph above are vulnerable. Very vulnerable. They are dependant on many forms of help. Many don’t have access to education. For example, after the big fire I described above, many elementary and high school kids weren’t allowed back into their classroom until they could buy new uniforms. But, they had no money or possessions. And, if they missed more than 2 weeks of classes they would need to repeat the semester or even the school year! That’s insane. That’s how vulnerable some people are. That’s unjust.
How Does Biblical Justice Instruct Us?
Biblical justice is when people who have access to more power than our neighbours use our voice on their behalf and journey with them to challenge and change unjust systems. It’s not charity or donations. It means becoming friends. It doesn’t scale quickly, but it multiplies exponentially over time. It means entering a journey as co-dependent neighbours.

For many wealthy or middle class people in the world our problem isn’t that we don’t care about the vulnerable, it’s that many of us don’t know the vulnerable.

Guys like me and families like ours need to invest time imagining and creating space t0 generate real friendships between wealthy people in Manila and vulnerable friends. We have a lot to learn about the unjust realities that we are ignorant about.

Once we have friendships, then we can start to challenge systems that oppress the vulnerable. Stupid systems like open coal storage in poor residential areas. Why is this kind of health hazard acceptable? It wouldn’t be if it was in the mayor’s back yard.

Jesus Christ was the Word made flesh. He did exactly what I’m talking about. He left his position of power and became vulnerable to journey with his creation (Philippians 2:5-11).  Jesus did this with his 12 disciples,. And the sick, the blind, the social outcasts and the women. These different people were marginalized and vulnerable and God entered their world as Jesus and walked with them for years as their friend (look at the video’s posted below to see what I mean).

Jesus was even killed embodying the more just world I’m talking about. The political and religious rulers killed his because he was pioneering a new society, a “Kingdom” that reinstated the dignity and full humanity of the vulnerable outside of national politics and economics. That’s intimidating for powerful people.

Jesus’ resurrection proved that Jesus was starting something real and he wasn’t just an idealistic dreamer. I can vouch for him too. I’ve meet Jesus many times in dreams, prayer, visions through scripture. God is making this world new. More just. 2000 years ago Jesus was God as a man walking on this earth. He still is the living God breaking into the evil and violence of the world with signs of hope every day. We need to learn to see them and take note.

Watch the playlist below if these idea’s about Jesus in the world are new for you. This is all about the message and life of Jesus and his disciples. It’s shameful that Jesus followers are just as much a part of unjust system as everyone else. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We need to keep pushing the boundaries of what the good news of Jesus is all about. It’s way bigger than Billy Graham and his son have been talking about. Next week I’ll point out ways to be a part of the solution rather than the problem.

How have you intentionally chosen to live against simple or complicated systems that oppress? Leave me a comment below and let’s make this a conversation rather than a monologue.

The post Justice and Our Participation in Injustice: Coal Dust Anyone? appeared first on Darnell Barkman.
Syndicated from Darnell Barkman


BGWG 7: Climate Change

Ebony and Steve return for another episode of Black Gal, White Guy to discuss climate change. Topics include:

Ebony’s recommendation: Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell (1:55)
Steve’s recommendation: When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (5:11)
Global weirding, denial of climate change, and why we need to care (9:03)
How climate change affects some more harshly than others (21:54)
Media representation of disasters and how they vary based on who is affected (27:30)
Prioritizing how to respond with so many disasters (31:37)

To contact BGWG, email (not as Steve accidentally says at the end). Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS


Saskatchewan has a bad reputation for geography. People make jokes about driving through it at night because there is nothing to see anyway. People think of it as merely miles and miles of flat grassland now turned into wheat and now canola fields. Thus, many people do not get off the Trans-Canada highway to explore this diverse province. Even if staying on this legendary highway there is diversity from the aspen forests, ponds, swamps, and valleys in the east to the open prairie around Regina—which fits the stereotype—to the salt lakes and flats, and then the grand rolling hills growing bigger and grander from Moose Jaw to the Alberta border. And this is only a small slice of the south! We have not yet mentioned the absolutely stunning Saskatchewan or Qu’Appelle River valleys or the top half of the province that is lake and forest country. So give Saskatchewan a chance! This summer we had to fly over it in our annual trip to Manitoba and I missed it.
My sacred place in the province is hills overlooking the Saskatchewan River at Saskatchewan Landing, a few minutes’ drive north of Swift Current where we lived. They have since made a national park out of similar terrain south of Swift Current: Grasslands National Park. This geography has a haunting beauty all its own. From a distance they are but dry hills and rolling prairies, which have a haunting beauty all their own, but if you look closely at the right time of year you can see blooming cacti the colour of the most glorious sunshine. That is the juxtaposition of life: sometimes the times of suffering make us more beautiful people. This place became sacred for me because it corresponded with a particular geography of my soul that I was experiencing at the time. It was a time of transition, confusion, and lack of clear direction. I often went to these hills for solace and to cry out my longing for redemption and healing. The depth of my experience in these hills inspired more poetry than all of the other provinces combined. Sometimes people have chuckled when I read this poem because all they know are the Saskatchewan stereotypes but they don’t know my soul or the sacred beauty of the place.
a naked barren land
and domineering sky—
heat, dust, wind, smoke sweeping
over ridged and rugged yellow grayish skin
stretching on endlessly.
Is there anywhere to go here?
Is there any destination?
It’s all so open-ended,
seeing forever
yet seeing nothing.

Syndicated from gareth brandt

Vlog 36: Future Hope

In the final vlog topic, Steve introduces by asking about hope for the future and whether we are progressing the world toward something better, worse, or pretty much the same. Micael provides the only response and discusses the impending collapse of Western civilization due to factors like nuclear weapon stockpiling and climate change.
This is the final vlog topic. Please stay tuned as we try out a new idea soon. Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Miss. Ann’s Zinnia’s (The Kingdom of God is Like . . . )

Sunday afternoon I left my husband with seed packets of Zinnias and Dahlias and walked up, across the yard, to look for a spade in our overflowing garage.  The planting of those flowers, four packets, was what I requested for Mother’s Day this year. 
I don’t know why planting seems, for me, an impossible task.  Maybe it’s that simple act of letting go and watching the impossible seed fall into darkness; maybe it’s the familiar struggle of facing an unknown future.  Whatever it is, my husband plants the garden each year and I, in time, tend it. 
Walking up from the garden, across the green expanse of lawn, I looked over at our neighbor’s yard.  They have a small, fenced in, vegetable garden and the wife, Ann, has a separate flower garden.  Their garden, like most in early spring, is a miracle waiting to happen – a tilled expanse of soil, a pregnant pause.  My eyes saw the emptiness there, the open waiting space, but in my mind I remembered the Zinnias. 
During our first summer here, we planted a good-sized vegetable garden filled with the practical means of nutrition.  Our neighbors did the same in their fenced-in plot, but around the outside edge of the fence grew large, splashy, red, purple and pink flowers – a fiesta of color that started blooming in late summer and stood strong into the fall. 
Oh how I envied Miss. Ann's Zinnias.  I eyed her flowers hungrily and finally, in September as the flowers were beginning to fade, asked if I might over and cut a bunch.  From that moment on, I was hooked. 
The following summer, I bought a packet of seeds and grew my own riot of reds and pinks.  I cut them and filled our house with vases.  I carried them to friends’ houses.  Everyone loved the Zinnias.
Then, last year, we made a farm stand for selling fresh, free-range chicken eggs.  I again planted my Zinnias (or rather, my husband did) and, when they grew and bloomed, I started cutting large happy bunches of purples and pinks, oranges and yellows and selling them in old tin cans at the farm stand for $1 each. 
It was a real steal for fresh cut flowers and they flew off of the farm stand’s two tilted shelves.  A friend suggested I should charge more.  But I refrained. 
I was already making a profit, but, what’s more, I know what it’s like to not be able to afford fresh flowers.  I know, also, how beauty feeds the soul.  I also know the feeling of finding a wonderful deal, how it opens our hearts and minds, makes us feel the expansive mystery of goodness and provision in the world that’s so often buried in layer after layer of unmet need. 
I wanted people to feel what I felt in my garden, the sensation of wonder and delight, the absurdity of so much color available for mere ornamentation.  
Returning to the garden with the trowel in hand that Sunday afternoon, I thought, the kingdom of God is like those Zinnias.  The Kingdom of God – heaven in our midst – blazes and waves in the place where it is planted.  It attracts the eye, captures the heart, fills those who are awake enough to notice, with longing.  The Kingdom of God is like a packet of seeds, bought for $1.49, that yields one hundred fold.  The kingdom of God is color cut and watered in an old tin can, bright joy on the side of the road bought with a handful of change – a deal too good to be true.   

Syndicated from This Contemplative Life

Vlog 31: God in Creation

The MennoNerds vloggers discuss seeing God in creation. Steve opens with the question and shares about how he most sees God in other people, God’s image-bearers. Micael responds by discussing why Christians need to care about creation, and Deborah responds with the idea of finding that special place in nature where you can meet God. Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Trump, Climate Change, and the End of the World

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will last forever.” Those are strange words from Jesus in Mark 13, except that we’re living in a time where the earth is, literally, passing away. Climate Change due to our treatment of the planet is consistently spoken of in apocalyptic terms. Weather disruptions, animal extinctions,
Syndicated from The Peace Pastor

Vlog 30: Food

Steve introduces the next topic on the vlog: food, and how what we eat reflects our values. Micael is joined by Sarah in a response talking about why they are vegan: not depriving others of food in a world where we have too many people to all eat meat and other animal products. Deborah concludes by talking about how we eat rather than what we eat. Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

What the Arctic Tells us about Following Jesus

Originally posted at Jesus Army’s Forward Blog.

The Arctic is alarmingly warm this year, in fact, 20 degrees hotter than usual. What scientists have been warning us against for decades is becoming reality. If nothing is done, we might see an enormous climate catastrophe that would kill and displace hundreds of millions.

The vast majority of scientists have also been telling us for years that we do far too little to stop climate change. Even if the relatively ambitious Paris Climate Accord is implemented by all countries, it will not be enough. And the outcome of the American election puts into question whether the Accord even will be implemented.

The main root cause of these problems is an industrially driven economic growth that is not restricted to areas that seem necessary and beneficial like better healthcare and education. The astonishingly high consumption level that has driven climate change for decades deals a lot with fashion, technology, entertainment and luxury products that we, if we’re honest with ourselves, simply don’t need.

Amazingly, the Bible taught contentment and restraint when it comes to material possessions thousands of years before the environmental crisis was a thing. The anonymous Christian author of the letter of Hebrews states: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus said in a similar fashion: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15).

Paul even argues that our level of contentment should be restricted to mere necessities: “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Tim 6:6-8).

If humanity had taken these words more seriously, we wouldn’t have this environmental threat. Sadly, even many Christians have failed to follow this Biblical teaching. Many of us have been caught up in the system of this world that is unashamedly based on pure greed: profit maximisation and economic self-interest.

But the melting Arctic is a reminder that this greed will destroy millions of lives if we don’t repent, turn away from this sin and do the opposite. In fact, it already does. The reason why the Bible taught simplicity even before the environment was threatened is because simplicity is necessary for us to help the poor as much as possible.

John the Baptist argued that generosity requires sacrifice: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11). John the Evangelist even says that God’s love cannot abide in us if we don’t share our stuff: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

So for the sake of both the poor and of creation, we should seek to have a simple lifestyle. This is something we have valued for a long time in the Jesus Fellowship, it is why nobody is richer than another in our communities and why we have abstained from decorating them with a lot of luxury items. We should live simply so that others might simply live. And as we realise this, God will help us in doing so.

Filed under: Environment & Creation Care, Justice & Economics
Syndicated from Holy Spirit Activism

Podcast: How Will God Fix the Mess We Made of Creation?

Greg considers the relationship between human redemption and the redemption of creation.How will God keep his promises to creation?

Send Questions To:
Dan: @thatdankent
Twitter: @reKnewOrg

iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS

The post Podcast: How Will God Fix the Mess We Made of Creation? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.
Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Simplicity and Sustainability Panel Follow-up: Steve Kimes

Steve responds to the first half of the Simplicity and Sustainability panel with a few key thoughts:

Responding to Hilary’s definition, Steve points out that in one sense, Jesus does say we do initially need to focus on things because we are already focused on things. He cites Luke 16:9 where Jesus suggests using our wealth to make friends with the poor.
Responding to Micael’s comments about house churches, Steve suggests that a church building is good as long as it is well-used. It should be busy 7 days a week, mostly for those who otherwise have no place to go.
On the anthropocentrism discussion, Steve picks up on a quote from Paul about our dominion over the earth meaning to be good stewards. Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS


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