High up in the library of Riverside Church this past Sunday, October 6th, I had the privilege to meet with 11 other Christians and otherwise spiritually minded people to discuss Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth: Life on a Tough New Planet, which tackles the reality of a planet permanently altered for the worse by climate change, and how we may carve a resilient future in the face of such loss.
After introductions, I realized that most attendees were motivated by the same two things: a deep appreciation for nature and an equally deep concern for the implications of environmental destruction and climate change.
The discussion hinged on the opening pages of McKibben’s book, which postulate that our current lifestyle is based on a planet that is hospitable and stable. However the planet is changing: in fact, the earth as we know it is going, and is not coming back. The question then, is how do we face such bad news without denial, avoidance, or resignation? How do we move forward with hope?
This is not an easy discussion to have, but I came away with some key thoughts, raised and shared by the group:
In times of trouble, we must come together. In eras of social injustice, we must confront and and defy the injustice. And, then, the point I found so utterly inspiring and true: we must recognize that true power manifests in the act of aiding the poor and the oppressed. Not only does history teach us this, not only does the Bible tell us this about 50 billion times, but we know it in our hearts as well.
On a final note, I greatly appreciated that the discussion was framed in such a way that those with different view points on climate change and its cause would be respected and included. It is my strong belief that no matter where people start on this issue, we all want the same thing: a bright, safe future for our children. Nobody wants a wrecked planet. Division and hatred occur when we assume that because somebody is starting at a different place from us, they want a bad outcome. We all want a good outcome. Only through love, understanding and inclusion will we get there.
The discussion group will meet for the next five Sundays, 9:15-10:30am at Riverside Church. If you cannot attend, Eaarth is available at the Riverside Church Book Store and online.