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It is hard to not be effected by what has been happening in Japan over these last several days. Coupled with other recent events such as the cyclone and subsequent flooding in Queensland, Australia, and the ongoing political tension in Libya and the Middle East, it brings me down to earth about the hard reality of this world. In particular it makes me wonder about the future, the Kingdom of God, and what God has planned for the earth.

Searching for ideas about what to make of all this, I stumbled across a blog post by Daniel James Levy on the American Evangelical Environmental Network website.

Growing up he had a “view of the world which in turn will one day end in some kind of cataclysmic explosion, which of course included some kind of nuclear missiles, huge machine guns, and the death of trillions of people and animals. After this, God will one day blow up the entire cosmos, just as He spoke it into existence.”

Yet as a youth Levy explains that struggled to reconcile this picture of the future with the call for Christians to spread the Good News and make the world a better place.

Levy writes,

“I remember vividly leaving my youth group one Wednesday night when I was 15 years old, the youth pastor talked about trying to lead people to Christ, to make the world a better place, and so on, but it never made sense in my head. “Why if this world is getting dramatically worst day by day (as his theology taught) would I labor to bring a difference here and now, if it will ultimately do nothing”, I said to myself. So when Jesus said He feeds the birds of the air, I could never make sense to why He does. The only reason it could be, was of course, for me.”

Levy explains the journey he has been on to reconcile this tension.

Drawing on what Stassen and Gunshee in Kingdom Ethics call a covenantal perspective – where covenants such as God’s covenant with creation after the Flood, and the laws of the Israelites which included duties involving non-human creation – Levy explains that we are invited to participate with God in the care of creation.

He writes, we “…are supposed to be a reflection of His nature in the world, which includes His care for the creation.”

While I was hoping that Levy would fill out more what this means and involves (I suppose we have to read Kingdom Ethics for more) he finishes with a beautiful illustration from New Testament scholar N.T. Wright.

Wright describes that for a person moving into a foreign land it is best that they know the language of the locals before they arrive, rather than learning when they get there. That way, when they arrive, they feel at home and a sense of place. He then compares this to us in the here and now and the future Kingdom of God in its fullness.

I don’t know exactly what this means for Queensland and Japan, but it does give me a sense of purpose, something to set my mind to, in an orientation of hope and expectation. In the face of floods and cyclones, I can still all be learning a language of love.

greenFish Sings to Seals

Have you ever sung to a seal?

My first experience of seal-singing was on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, on the north-east coast of England.

After having been recommended the practice by a friend who lived on the island, I embraced the idea with only some trepidation. I’m not a good singer. I was feeling for the seals.

First we had to find some seals.

After making our way over to the north side of the island, and picking our way along the shore, we were delighted to come across several seals who were lounging-around on the rocks.

This was the first time we’d seen seals since our arrival in the UK. And it was pretty exciting. The only thing was that they were quite a distance away.

In addition, they were very content in staying put. They were sun baking – and sun doesn’t appear much in the north of England (so says an Aussie). If I were a seal, I would have been making the most of any opportunity as well. As we waited around to see if they’d had their fill of sunshine, we became slowly entranced by their lying around. They just lay there. Flapped a flipper around here and there. The odd seal-grunt of satisfaction. It was all simply indulgent. So simple. It sank into me – and infused throughout me – they were thoroughly enjoying just being. Questions rang in the back of my mind: when did I last do that? And, why don’t I do it more often?

Still, I had an objective. A task was before me. After having made this great discovery, I was a little disappointed that they were a bit too far away for singing. And, while there were no other people around, an untrained, warbally, loud singing voice would be the very thing to make concerned holiday-makers come running in case I was raising an alarm. So we took photos and enjoyed the spectacle, without the additional human company.

Choosing to meander further along the shore, it wasn’t too much later that we found another, smaller group of seals, who were also making the most of the sun. Except this time, they were closer in.

…Here goes. My music-aficionado partner shook his head in disbelief.

The thing is, they noticed. One, younger, more inquisitive seal was so impressed that he slid of the rock for a closer look at this singing being.

From then on we were dancing in a relationship of curiosity. Me, fascinated by the effect of my voice on the seals, and the seals, especially the young one, entranced by my voice.

I have no idea why some seals are drawn to humans singing. But they are. And from then on, whenever we toured the coasts of Scotland, my eyes were peeled for more opportunities.

There was one other time when we had a singing-seal encounter.

It was on the south-east coast of Harris, part of the distant island of Scotland which is known as the Outer Hebrides.

We were driving the coast road and my eyes scanned the countless grey rocks (of which every second looked like a grey seal), that spanned the coves. There! That’s not a rock. That there is a seal! We jumped out of the warm car and quickly rugged up in several extra layers, and then made our way to the embankment that overlooked the little beach.

This time a little group were lying around on a bed of seaweed. And this time, when I plucked up the early notes, two smaller seals slid into the water to come a little nearer.

As I searched my mind for songs or snippets of songs that I knew the words to, I was again struck by the beauty of the interaction.

Here I was, offering something to a seal (poor as the tune might be). And it was fascinated by me.

It somehow brought me onto a different level.  The worries – about where we would stay that night, what we would eat for lunch, and whether we’d get to see the highlights of the island in our short visit – all vanished and it was just us and the seals, enjoying a moment. Being together. Us, them, the ocean and the sky.

Whenever I reflect on my seal-singing experiences I am filled with wonder and gratitude. And thankfulness to the woman who shared her own joy of it. Now that we’re back in Australia, I wonder whether our southern-hemisphere seals like human tunes as well. And I wonder whether I’ll ever again share such a special moment with these friendly ocean creatures.

Having said all that, I hope that this story has also conveyed the humour and joy of the Creator. Who thinks of such lovely, life-giving details as curious and time-indulgent seals.

Check out this poem:

 

God Works in Cycles and Seasons:

“…He guides the days and the seasons;
He guides the birds through the air.
God works his gracious redemption”
We are but dimly aware.

God has his own eco-logic;
God has his own Kingdom plan.
God works in Trinity wisdom;
God holds the world in his hand.

Cycles of cloud and of water,
Cycles of wind and of rain,
Deep-moving flows of the ocean,
Circling, returning again”

Cycles of love and of spirit,
Cycles of seasons of grace,
Times of refreshing revival,
Gaining fresh light from his face.

God is the world’s great Composer,
Dramatist, Architect, King”
Rhythms of art; sounds melodic”
God gives us music to sing.

God simplifies deepest mysteries;
God complicates best-laid plans.
We walk in wonder before him,
Trusting our ways in his hands.

God in our own lives recycles”
Physically, through blood and cell;
Spiritually, through prayerful rhythms;
Stewardly, as we serve well.

We are a part of the story;
We have our key roles to play”
If we but follow the Master”
Spirit led, day after day.

We are God’s keepers of nature;
We are his stewards of grace.
We live the Spirit’s commission,
Stewarding both time and space.

God makes us all his recyclers”
This is no secular whim.
This is no plot of the devil”
God makes us stewards for him.

God is the Lord who recycles,
Bringing forth things old and new.
God even makes evil to serve him,
Turning the false to the true.

God is the perfect Recycler”
No wastage; nothing is lost”
Whether in storm, wind, or fire,
God wins the world through the cross.

“Praise God in his sanctuary!
Praise him for his mighty deeds!
Praise him with loud clanging cymbals!
Praise him, all that lives and breathes!”

 

This poem is based on Psalm 150 and other Scriptures.  By H0ward A. Snyder, Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale University College and Seminary. See here for the full poem.

What do you think…? Do you agree that God works in Cycles and Seasons?

Poem posted on the Evangelical Environmental Network website.

This morning on my way out, I rode past a vacant plot of land that has just been cleared of trees. An apple tree had been cut down, and green apples were strewn around and lay in the morning sun – to rot or be eaten by birds and insects. No one had claimed the apples, and no one was cheeky or daring enough to scoop them up. Perhaps also, no one had the inclination?

We live in such a rich society here in Australia. Even with the devastation of recent floods, fires and cyclones, there is an abundance of food around us so that none should be going hungry in the next few months (despite the price hikes in some fruit and veg).

The reality around us plays into our understanding of the wider world, and can influence how we consider this question:

“How do Christians choose between caring for the poor and caring for creation?

This is a frequently asked question directed to Scott Sabin, the Executive Director of Plant with a Purpose, by curious Christians.

In Caring for the Earth Is Caring for the Poor, Flourish authors argue that we don’t have to choose one at the expense of the other.

In Caring for the Earth, Sabin is quoted as saying that his care for the earth grew out of concern for the poor.

While we in the West have more than enough food waiting for us in our supermarkets, the quality of life of the poor is acutely tied to the quality of life on the land around them.

Sabin explains:

…serving the poor – helps to serve the environment and helping to restore the environment serves the poor. Both activities serve the Creator.”

Do you donate money to charity? To an aid organisation?

Do you sponsor a kid or get moved to give during times of natural disasters?

Guess what,

climate change will undo sixty years of development if we don’t act now.”

So says Tim Costello from World Vision Australia.

Do you want to know why? Check out this article by World Vision’s Jarrod McKenna.

Jarrod reflects on what Martin Luther King Jr would say today about Christians and climate change.

Hurt ‘n’ Hope

Check our this Christmas reflection from Mehrin.

Mehrin is part of the Seeds mob of Victoria – a network of Christians seeking to explore together what it means to know the Word, live in community and engage in the wider world (mission).

She writes:

“…it takes faith to believe in something when others choose to doubt it.

There is a lot to celebrate at Christmas.

The Incarnation signals a renewed relationship between God and humankind, between heaven and earth, and between the peoples of the earth.”

So says Simon Holt in an Evangelical Alliance article, “Christmas Feast.”

Drawing on his own Christmas culinary cravings, and the work of L. Shannon Jung (Food for Life), Holt challenges us to reposition our understanding of Christmas roasts and all the trimmings into a Christ-centered perspective.

Holt writes:

The real joy of Christmas is found in connection, connection to God and each other.”

Food is a gift. From God. Making it sacred. (So says me reading Holt who read Jung). The problem is that we’ve become distanced from the gift-Giver, and we’ve become disconnected from other people and the earth – with whom, I’d argue, we can share this gift, and better appreciate it.

What am I going to do this Christmas to reconnect food and faith? Do you agree with Holt’s article…if so – how are you going to respond?

Jesus and Christmas. What’s it all about? What is He all about?

Check out this little reflection by Nils von Kalm via John Mark Ministries.

Sweet baby Jesus, no crying he makes. Really?.

What does a green bag, a wheelie bin and mound of compost have to do with God?

What does my care of water have to do with my faith?

According to Margaret Feinberg and Wendell Berry (see here), quite a lot.

In More Than a Trend: Why Creation Care is Good for the Christian Soul Feinberg reflects on how caring for creation requires a change of heart in how we see ourselves and the surrounding world (and, I’d add, better understanding God’s love for all of creation).

Feinberg celebrates the learning we’ve all been doing about caring for the world, and for the changes that we’re making in our daily lives.

Yet she probes deeper into what drives our care (or lack of care).

She draws on Berry to highlight the way that we’ve put ourselves first, and that creation has suffered for it. This isn’t to say that we have to worship trees. Rather, Berry – and Feinberg – argue that caring for ourselves and the world can and should go hand in hand. They should compliment each other.

Our Christmas Challenge

Restoring Eden, a US/Canadian based Christian environmental network, has come up with 10 Ways to Honor the Creator this Christmas.

They write: “‘Tis the season to remember the birth of our savior, and the weight of his love for us.  Yet the holidays can end up being a peak time for over-consumption, excessive waste, and frivolous spending instead of a time that honors our Creator.

Restoring Eden and Renewal have put together a list of 10 very simple things you can do this season to help focus our minds and hearts on God’s immense love and sacrifice for us.”

While some of the ten ideas are heavily biased towards a cold, Northern Hemisphere time-of-year, and while some of the links are for Americans only, they could be an inspiration for you and your family as you think about the meaning of Christmas.

What are some alternative, Australian – appropriate ideas?

Donate money: TEAR Australia, a Christian aid and development organisation has a Useful Gift Catalogue.

Make a gift: there’s not much time left before Christmas this year, but be inspired…turn off the telly tonight and get crafty!

Shop locally: at craft markets,such as Launceston’s Civic Homespun Market.

Shop ethically: support fair-trade, such as visiting an Oxfam shop (in person or online).

Do you have other ideas? Please share them with us!

This is my song for the raspberries

It comes without a tune

But my song is a delicious one

Though they’re eaten all too soon.

 

This is a song about raspberries

They’re growing out the back

Safe in a net, hidden from birds

My perfect little snack.

 

I quite like this seedy song

You bitter sweet tang of berry

The tune on my tongue is a happy one

I wish it would last longer – very.

 

Baby face is covered

In tracks of goey fest

The delight in her eyes is a telling one…

Puts my sharing to the test.

 

I hope this song continues

For another week or two

I wish I had a magic trick

To extend this delightful coup.

 

But the berry season just has to end

Like this rhyming wit

I hope you’ll join me in a prayer

In thanks for this classic hit.

 

What drives our Care?

What drives our environmentally friendliness?

Why do we care?

Why act?

Check out this mini-film, based on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14.

Director Emily Manthei is a young Christian artist based in California. She’s passionate about

creating words, images, music and films to challenge and inspire the audience.”

What can a puppet teach us? What story can a puppet tell that leaves us inspired? You’ve got an opportunity to find out…

The Man Who Planted Trees is coming to Australia:

Melbourne Arts Centre: 20th and 21st November.

Sydney Opera House: 23rd November to 5th December.

The Man Who Planted Trees is a performance of beauty, telling a story of a humble old shepherd, Elzéard Bouffier, who, accompanied by his dog, wants to bring trees back to the desolate valley which is his home.

The Puppet State Theater Company brings this classic French story by Jean Giono to life.

The Man Who Planted Trees is a story of hope and inspiration…  Of how normal and rather plain people can do extra ordinary things in normal and rather plain ways. It is simply beautiful and something that greenFish personally recommends.

The story is played out using a delightful combination of puppets and actors. The Puppet State Theater Company has a great knack of keeping both children and adults captivated.

The Man Who Planted Trees is a favorite at the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival.

“An unforgettable story that shows us the difference one man (and his dog!) can make to the world.”

Check out this message by Phil Kniss: “To serve God and the land.”

“To serve God and the land”

Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite:

“…the Bible, as a whole, is not a random collection. It has a plot. The plot begins in Genesis with creation. It ends in Revelation with a new creation. And everything in between is a long story of God working to save and redeem and restore creation, which has suffered from the destructive forces of sin.”
Question:

“What happens when we start with the story that God created the world in beauty and wholeness and shalom, and after God’s human creation rebelled God’s full-time project is bringing creation back to shalom?”
Answer:

“The cross stands at the apex, the pinnacle, of this sweeping saga of God’s work to save and restore all of creation. It was not just for me and my sins that Jesus died. It was for all the brokenness in creation that resulted, directly or indirectly, from human sin.”
And …
“The other thing that happens is that we see God in the right light. We begin to grasp the intimate, loving relationship God has with all creation, even in its broken state.”
See here if you’re having trouble accessing the clip.

My five litre failure?

I’ve been in a state of shock for the past few weeks. A state of disbelief.

When the water bill arrived, I had to look at the figures at least twice. Then, still doubtful, I walked out to the front yard to check the water meter.

The water company had got the reading correct. How could this be?

I’ve been having five-litre bucket-baths since July 14. Our water usage should have plummeted. And it hasn’t. So, since the bill arrived, I have been trying to figure out how our household’s water-use has changed, and why it hasn’t dropped despite my committment to using less water for personal hygiene. This is what I’ve come up with:

Less water:

Showers:

I’ve replaced my long showers with five-litre bucket-baths. In addition, my partner’s work moved to a new building with better facilities, and, because he rides to work, he is able to have a shower when he arrives at the office in the morning, instead of when he gets home at the end of the day.

Garden:

As it’s been a wet winter, we’ve not had to water our vegetable garden very often.

More water:

Bath:

Our little girl outgrew the baby bath and she has been washing in a few inches of water in our big bath two or three times a week.

Laundry:

Our child has also been responsible for a big increase in our washing.  She has been churning through cloth nappies, bibs, face washers and other clothes, the outcome of her eating “solid” food and turning into a pint-sized explorer.

Cleaning:

Now that baby is entering the toddler phase, our house needs cleaning far more than it used to (sigh). That means mopping the tiled areas, cleaning the bathroom and wiping down surfaces in the kitchen (and everywhere else in the house that little fingers can reach).

So despite my committment to having bucket-baths, I haven’t managed to reduce our water consumption. But does this mean I have failed?

I’d answer: no. I’ve learnt several valuable things from this challenge.

First, I’m taking it as a great demonstration of how quickly water usage can change, as well as an opportunity to better appreciate these changes. If I hadn’t undertaken this experiment, I wouldn’t have seen the impact of our extra water use (mostly caused by our baby). I hope that in the future I’ll be more aware of how our behaviour can have a big impact on our overall water use.

At the same time, I’ve become more conscious of a continually running tap, wherever it might be (kitchen, bathroom sink, etc).

Second, my perspective on showers has changed – I appreciate them far more than I used to. While I’ve gone back to having normal showers, I reckon that they’re shorter than what they had been. A few minutes under the flowing spout seems luxurious after bathing in a meagre five litres of water.

I used to tell myself that I needed to have a long shower for a variety of reasons, including:

… to wake up in the morning.”

“… to get clean.” (How clean do I really need to be? And am I going to be drastically cleaner after a 12-minute compared to a two-minute shower?)

… to soothe my soul after a long or hard day.”

And beyond these reasons, I’ve been good at telling myself that I deserve a long shower. It’s my little treat. Sure, water is precious, but this is just a little reward for “this” or for “that”. Never mind that what I “deserve” has steadily grown over the years, and never mind that I’m also good at giving myself other little rewards during the day (another cup of coffee, a second helping of cake…). This exercise has shown me how easily I can fool myself into indulging in luxuries, in putting myself on a pedestal, of setting up a little kingdom for myself within my home. It’s all too easy to make myself Queen “for a day”, which quickly becomes every day.

As a Christian who believes that every bit of of life belongs to God, and that I can worship God in every part of my life and living, there is another dimension to this issue of my water use.

I’ve realised that my primary relationship with water isn’t about me as a consumer. Matthew Farrelly in “A Covenant with the Earth” explains that God wants my place and role on earth to be characterised by humble service, which is described in a similar way to a priest’s service in the temple.

He explains: “We have been placed within creation to mediate God’s presence, embody God’s posture, and enact God’s purposes on the earth.” Said differently: I’m not supposed to possess water and value it for how I can use it; I’m called to offer it back to the Creator in worship. In his great book, “For the Beauty of the Earth” Steven Bouma-Prediger in explains that a big part of my worship is about me being thankful to God for creation, including water.

So, what could this worship and service response mean for me? From washing and cleaning, to work and play, all of these form part of my worship of God. Said differently, I can serve God in the humble example of Jesus in everything I do.

Farrelly writes:

…we ought not to regard any of our earthly labors as profane or secular, but as sacred service to God on behalf of the world.”

God cares about how I live in the world. From how I scrub our floors, to how I write this article.

As if Farrelly knows of my once private weakness, he goes on to ask a question that cuts to the core of my thoughts and behaviour about water, and succeeds in making me squirm:

What we do with creation [i.e. water] matters to God. Do we seek to work and shape it faithfully and beautifully in relationship with God and his purposes for the world, or, perversely, to satisfy our selfish desires?”

Do I shower for my own enjoyment, for my own selfish ends? Is it all about me? Or in humility and gratitude, can I be thankful for the clean, sparkling liquid that comes out of my tap, praise God for the opportunity to have a wash, and be more careful with it in response?

And in Australia, when I remember the scarcity of fresh water, (with the ABS reporting that “most of Australia is classified as semi-arid or arid”) I am even more thankful and humbled at this gift from God.

This is important, because God isn’t saving us out of the world. I hold onto the ancient words of the Prophets and the hope of Jesus who began the work of bringing in God’s Kingdom. In this I can believe with Farrelly that my care for water, as with everything else, can take place:

…at the foot of the Cross, where we grasp that the old is passing away, and that all things—people, creatures, and the land—are becoming new.”

This isn’t an easy or clear-cut story. Tomorrow morning when I go to have a wash, I’ll again face the choice between my own greed and selfishness, or taking another Way. While the immediate enjoyment of a self-indulgent shower could entice me to luxuriate, it’s my hope that in this and other ways I’ll choose to learn of the joy and peace that comes with worshipping God through my actions of savouring and saving these drops.

I’ve just read a blog post by Dave Fagg, titled “Heaven is my home, one day I’ll be there…”

In it he discusses Tom Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope” and muses about what it means to be caught in the tension between life in the here and now, and when God renews all of creation – which we understand to be heaven.

In explaining Wright’s work, Fagg says:

…in some way we will be living life in real bodies as God intended – radically different from how things are now, but in some ways radically the same.”

In reading Fagg’s work, I can’t help but think of the Job 19 text (19:25-7), when Job declares:

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”

What beautiful, confident, hopeful words. Do I – do we – believe them? Does the way that I live testify to my belief? What a challenge, and yet, what a privilege to try live out these words.

As in my last post – about Philip Yancey – this article also challenges me to think more deeply about how I personally, and within my faith community, can participate in the story of heaven and the journey we’re on as people of God to its realisation in its entirety. If only God had given us a step-by-step instruction manuel about how to go about this. Yet, as Fagg concludes, we’ve been given some help: the Bible gives us slivers of insight about the journey and about what the fullness of heaven will look like, and we’ve been set on our way by the example of Jesus.

If you’re looking for further reading on what our care for creation might look like, check out “A Covenant with the Earth” by Matthew Farrelly (the second part of the article provides a helpful discussion on covenant, Christ and creation) at Christianity Today.

And there is more to the story…see here for the second part to Fagg’s article where he continues with and develops his discussion.

Gen Y inspired by U

In the Guardian online, Brian Draper has published an inspiring and challenging article: “Church’s vision can guide the young.”

Gen Y has very little contact with, or understanding of, the Church or Christian faith. So says the Church of England – in a report published last week – along with other thinkers on the issue.

He writes that the youth of today have neither the hang-ups about the church that some Gen Xers have carried, or the wisdom and insight about life that our faith tradition is so rich.

Yet there is hope, says Draper. Despite facebook, twitter, and the other aspects of the internet that so attracts their attention and defines this new generation, many Gen Y’s are “…keen to make a meaningful, positive difference through who they are and what they do.”

And it is a good thing too, argues Draper, because these young people are decision makers for the future. He continues:

they are the first generation which has no choice but to reject the short-termism, greed and ecological indifference which has taken us to the verge of planetary catastrophe.”

The message of Draper’s article is this: the church plays an important and vital role to play in helping these young people. The Church holds a vision of the world, of the Kingdom of God, that can equip and inspire this young generation to live in hope. And they are not going to understand or take up this vision unless they see it enacted by those who hold it most dear: us.

Draper asks:

Where else could they find such a vision?”

(Would we want them to go elswhere anyway?)

And what a gift to give others: a way of life that leads to life: today, tomorrow and the hereafter.

Yancey talks about the importance of living out faith in the real world in this interview with Roxanne Wieman from Relevant Magazine. The context is Yancey’s new book “What Good is God: In Search of a Faith that Matters.”

Yancey speaks on a personal level, saying that he came back to his faith because he saw people serving others humbly and sacrificially in the example of Jesus.

…the biggest encouragement to my faith is seeing it lived out in real life.”

While the article sheds light on what motivated and inspired Yancey in writing this new book, giving us a glimpse of the wisdom in the pages, I was drawn to the last of Wieman’s questions:

“In the book you say that the story of Christianity is Creation. Fall. Redemption. In light of the tragedies everyone faces – the fallen, broken parts of this world – it begs the question: If the fall is inevitable, what’s the point of Creation at all?”

What’s the point of Creation at all?”

I wonder whether the answer to this question is a central issue that can make the difference between Christians caring for creation or alternatively being apathetic or uncaring (and everything in between and around these two extremes)?

While Wieman’s question seemed to be broader than creation care, I wonder whether it includes it nevertheless.

Yancey’s response is one filled with hope and trust – in God – and in people. He explains:”…God judged all of history, including the tragedies, including the rebellions, including the crucifixion of His own son, and judged it as worth it.”

Sounds pretty inspiring to me. In fact, how do we get our heads around that idea? God really reckons that it’s worth it?

And where do we humans come in? Yancey reckons:

…God seems to take pleasure not in doing it Himself, but in turning it over to the rest of us to see what we can do.”

Wow. That’s pretty big stuff. Who would have thought that God would have so much faith in us? While at the same time that God know’s we’re going to make mistakes and contribute to the wretched brokenness of the world,  God also invites us to participate in His grand plan of redemption.

Yancey explains that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to “..take the results of fallenness – the brokenness, the poverty, the pain [and I’d add: environmental degradation] – and demonstrate what God plans to do about those on a cosmic scale someday.”

Can we believe this is true? Can we transform our belief into action? And if so – what does or could that look like? How can we live out such hope in the face of the overwhelming or daunting science of climate change?

Source: Roxanne Wieman, “Philip Yancey Talks Doubt” Relevant Magazine, 11 October 2010.

What is sin? Is it doing something naughty? Or, is it greater than that – is it anything that separates us from God?

If sin is an act of hurt, an attitude of selfishness, or a community of thoughtlessness, then sin is great indeed.

If that then, is the enormity of sin, how much greater must be the grace of God, to cover it all…

And all the wickedness in the world that man might work or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal in the sea”

– William Langland

Kim Cornford, in a recent talk, considers the nature of sin, the amazing grace of God, the gift of salvation, and what we can do in response to God. It is a thought-provoking story about her own journey in understanding climate change, as well as an insightful discussion on these Christian themes.

So says Viraphone Viravong, director general of the Laos energy and mines department.

Jonathan Watts reports in a Guardian article that Laos has sought regional approval for it’s first major hydropower development on its stretch of the mighty Mekong River.

Yet, this energy won’t provide local (Laos) industry with cheap energy, on the contrary, 90 percent of it will be sold to the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Watts explains that this move is part of a broader plan by the Laos Government to use more of its natural resources to generate finance. He continues:

According to Viravong, 20% of Laos’ GDP will come from hydropower and mining by 2020, up from about 4% today.”

Fair enough?

Yet, the complexities of growth, development and sustainability begin to reveal themselves with more information about the Mekong and the countries on its banks. For example, this dam is one of eleven proposed for the lower part of the Mekong. And, these aren’t the first dams for the river either: China has already heavily dammed the upsteam section.

It isn’t just conservation groups who are concerned with this mass damming program. Organisations like Oxfam Manna Gum, and coalition group Save the Mekong are united with a shared concern for the impact that these dams will have on local residents, such as the numerous fishing communities whose livelihoods depend on the fish that traverse the waters.

But there is without a doubt an environmental aspect to this issue as well. Fish are going to be affected. Sedimentation is a concern.

Watts explains,

Four of the world’s 10 biggest freshwater fish migrate up the Mekong to spawn. Among them is the Mekong giant catfish, which is the size of a bull shark, and the Mekong stingray, which can weigh up to 600kg.”

When asked about the environmental impact, Viravong responded: “If we do it ourselves, only cheap energy from hydropower will do.”

What does it mean for Australians to help our neighbours? What if our Government contributed to subsidising sustainable energy for developing countries like Laos? Do we have a responsibility for the fishing communities, and for the fish of the Mekong?

For more information check out “Preserving Plenty” a report by Oxfam/Manna Gum.

For a photo of the biggest river fish I’ve ever seen, go here.

Discussing A Moral Climate

The Mission Studies Network (Victoria) is organising a discussion on Michael Northcott’s book, A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming

Tuesday 26th October

12.30 until 2

@ the rear of Miss Libertine’s pub, 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne.

More details: Convener is Dr Ross Langmead rlangmead@whitley.unimelb.edu.au. No need to RSVP.



Bikes parked outside the University of Groningen, Netherlands

This year, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change is initiating a Ride to Worship Week.

Why?

To care for God’s creation, to express concern for those living in poverty, and because cycling has so many benefits in and of itself.

ARRCC has been inspired by “Ride to Work Day.”

Last year 95,000 Australians celebrated ‘Ride to Work’ at one of the 137 community breakfasts. This year the wheels will be turning around the country on Wednesday 13th October. See here for more details.

Ride to Work is all about health. Held on one day a year, the promoters hope that some participants will be inspired and encouraged to ride a bit more often, whether that be twice a year, once a month, or perhaps everyday.

The day is about encouraging healthy….

  • people – that’s you and I and Bob down the road,
  • lifestyles – because it can be good to get outdoors a bit more and away from the TV set,
  • society – because riding can be fun, especially if you ride with a friend,
  • economics – more riding means less driving, which means less household money spent on fuel for the car tank, and
  • environment – bottoms on bikes rather than car seats reduces emissions, noise pollution, and can even create a safer local environment for our kids playing outdoors

In that same spirit, ARRCC is promoting Ride to Worship Week. As a multi-faith environmental organisation, ARRCC realises that many Australians are inspired and motivated by their faith, and they see Ride to Worship as a catalist for bringing faith together with loving-action.

This first Ride to Worship week will be held from Saturday 9th to Friday 15th October. During that week, ARRCC is encouraging people to ride or walk to and from their place of worship (on whichever day they normally attend worship).

One person can do it on their own, or others at your place of worship may be interested as well.

For more information, leaflets, a poster, power point presentation as well as guidelines on how to participate see here.

To register, see here.

This article by Sue White from the ABC discusses the growing movement in Australia of people from different faith backgrounds – including Christian – in connecting their beliefs with caring for the world.

Helen Yoo, from one Uniting Church in Sydney, explained how her beliefs was influencing her attitude towards the environment:

If you read Genesis, when God created the world it was good. If God believes there is intrinsic value in that, then who are we to decide our greed, lust for power, and superficial desire for consumer goods are more important?”

This article described some of the environmentally friendly ideas that two churches, Maroubra Junction Uniting Church and St Mark’s Anglican Church South Hurstville, have initiated in their congregations. Some of the things they’ve implemented are: mulching, grey water systems, solar hot water and a system for sharing possessions like an eco lawn mower.

The article also highlighted the growth in inter-faith responses to environmental care in Australia, for example, through the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.

Fit for a queen

We’ve recently been away for the weekend, and it wasn’t a difficult decision to relax my self-imposed bucket bath campaign for the duration. (See here for the background story.)

To turn on the tap and have hot water pouring out in abundance was simply divine.

A brief doubt flickered through my mind as I reminded myself that the house relied on tank water. My response: “Never mind, it’s been raining all weekend!”

So, I made the most of these showering opportunities. They were a stark contrast with the never-enough-water-left-to-wash-everything situation I’ve been facing these last few weeks with my bucket-bathing, especially when it’s a day to wash my hair as well. My feet have been sorely neglected, which is OK now, but wait for summer.

While we were away I also indulged in reading a historical romance novel – set in the time of Queen Elizabeth I (during the sixteenth century).

Reading this book made me wonder what Queens, Kings and other nobility would have done to wash. I can imagine that it was sitting in a hot tub with the luxury of a servant standing behind dousing you with pitchers of water.

Not too bad, especially when compared to what the peasants and lower classes did: perhaps one wash a year. Those who lived near rivers would have an outdoor wash when it was warm.

When looking at these two groups, it’s clear that those of us in modern developed countries have most in common with the nobility of old. Instead of a servant at our beck and call in bathroom matters, we’ve bent copper and aluminium to service our liquid needs.

At the turn of a handle we’ve got pure clean water, easily adjusted to the right temperature, pouring over us. And none of this pitcher at a time business – we’ve got our pouring water for as long as we like. It is lavish and decadent beyond what the poor and even nobility in the old days could have imagined.

While the upper classes of old would have had a pretty good bathing experience, can you imagine the expressions of wide-eyed wonder on their faces if they had seen a bathroom like yours or mine?

It’s a reminder to me about how much has changed in our world.  Today there are hundreds of millions of people living at a standard greater than the Kings and Queens of yesteryear, and there are billions more who aspire to. But the question is: how many Kings and Queens can our world sustain?

An unlikely coalition of numerous Australian groups and organisations, including World Vision and the Uniting Church, is today calling for our political representatives to take action on climate change.

In this unique time in Australian politics, this statement, written to the Independent MPs and all political parties, is a striking example of what is on the hearts and minds citizens, and of religious, political, social and economic groups in Australia.

In a statement on the move today, Greenpeace CEO Linda Selvey points out:

Climate change is not just an environmental issue. It is an economic, social, ethical, and public health issue.”

The statement calls for a price on carbon as a “critical tool” to reduce carbon pollution.

Eleine Poulos, the Uniting Church’s National Director explained the need for todays call:

The environment is not merely a resource for us to plunder. It is a sacred gift from God and if we don’t treat it as such, we risk the planet and our very own future.”

This statement has been endorsed by a huge variety of groups, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Oxfam Australia, the Climate Institute, GetUp and Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

What did you think when you got your provisional licence?

How did you feel when you gave someone – or received – an engagement ring?

This article, by editor in chief of Christianity Today, David Neff, is about what it means to be living in a limited world. To be waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom of God, in the same way that having our L’s or P’s or an engagement ring is a significant waiting time for a promise to be realised.

It is about a promise of something else to come: the fullness of the Kingdom of God. But that it is important for us to live well waiting in that promise. Neff writes,

seeing Creation as promise prevents us from treating it as mere raw material.”

While I agree much of this article, I’m not sure about his argument that polarizes putting creation on an idol-like pedestal or turning it into a worthless material fit only to be consumed by us. There is a deeper and richer discussion to be had about what lies in the middle of these two frameworks.

For example, he illustrates his point by referring to the significance of natural cycles for pagan cultures of the Old Testament times, and argues that instead Christians should see the world through the lens of history. Yet God has instituted the seasons and the cycles of the world. Our lives are governed by these seasons. Surely it is good to praise God for, and celebrate His gifts to us in this Divine Ordering, and that we can do so without worshipping the created over the Creator?

I agree with Neff when he calls for Christians, Evangelicals (especially pietist and revivalist strands) included, to embrace not only personal salvation but that the whole of Creation will be redeemed as well (referring to Paul in Romans 8:20-24).

He writes:

When we remember that a restored humanity in a restored Eden is the crowning vision of Scripture, we come to see ourselves and our responsibilities in a bigger, broader landscape.”

He argues that we should care for creation not primarily out of our own self-interest, but because God loves it and has grand plans for it.

Finally, he calls us to contemplate what Jesus meant, when he asks us to love our  ‘neighbour’.

Yet I would throw into his question thoughts from Sara Miles,who writes:

[a]pparently Jesus thinks there are two kinds of people in the world: our neighbours, whom we are to love. And our enemies, whom we are to love.”

What are your thoughts about how the coming of God’s Kingdom influences our daily lives now? Who are our neighbours and how can we love them?

Shades of Green

Are you looking for something to think about this weekend, in between reading newspapers and drinking coffee, and working through the weekend list of chores?

Check out “Shades of Green” by Byron Smith.

Which approach or framework best describes your attitude and response to creation care?


Fiacre the gardener

In some Christian calendars, today, 26th August is marked as the day to remember Fiacre (died 670).

“A patron of gardeners, and always depicted with a spade, Fiacre was an Irish travelling hermit who settled at Meaux, in Brittany. There he is said to have built the first hostel for Irish pilgrims on the continent and maintained a large vegetable garden to feed his guests. The place where he lived and died is now called Saint-Fiacre.

“This day is also an alternative day for the remembrance of Ninian, who also developed a large garden to feed the many pilgrims who visited Whithorn.”

Prayer:

“Earth Maker,

by whose life we are born and sustained,

as we thank you for the careful tending of Fiacre,

help us to tend this planet, your garden,

to the best of our ability.”

From:

Ray Simpson, The Celtic Prayer Book, volume 2: Saints of the Isles, 2003, Kevin Mayhew, Suffolk.

Manna in Melbourne

Manna Gum – see here – is an independent not-for-profit Christian organisation based in Melbourne.

They are running a week-long intensive to help Christians explore Christ’s call for new ways of living.

When: September 26th to October 2nd (registration closes September 10th).

Where: Footscray and Cudgee

For more details see here:  MannaFlyer-rego

Who is Manna Gum?

Manna Gum is committed to engaging with Christian churches, organisations, small groups and individuals who want to explore new ways of living as Christians in the world today. Manna Gum is about encouraging ways of life which  put care of others, ourselves and creation at the centre, as we pray and seek for the coming of God’s kingdom.

Free-range Children

What are your favourite memories of your childhood?

Being indoors or out?

Being with adults or far from their watchful eyes?

This article in the Guardian discusses several studies which have considered the benefits and risks of kids playing outdoors.

The conclusion: kids are better kids, and our society is made better through them, if they’ve spent time outside.

For example,

[e]motional benefits include reduced aggression and increased happiness.”

For me, I loved making water-proof cubby houses, growing veggies in my own corner of the garden and bouncing up and down on bendy tree branches.

You?

“…we join in celebrating with Christ the wonders of creation”.

I’m not a greenie, and I’m not a tree-hugger, but I reckon that caring for creation is an important part of my faith.

So, how can my church learn about and respond to God’s creation?

In September 2004 a resource called Season of Creation was trialled in about 50 congregations in Melbourne and Adelaide. Since then, churches around Australia and the world have incorporated it into their worship services, designed to run over four weeks starting in September. These churches are seeking to reflect on and be thankful for the Creator God and for God’s gift of creation.

“Christ is at the heart of our celebrations.”

This ecumenical resource has been developed for any church wanting to explore God’s love for the earth in their services. It offers suggestions and materials for churches to use in church services including:

  • Themes for each week, and three broader themes that rotate over a three-year cycle.
  • Talks to the children.
  • Bible studies that correspond with the weekly themes.
  • Bible readings.
  • Sermons based on Bible study materials, theology or the childrens’ talk.
  • Entire liturgies.

For each of the three series the Bible readings follow a broad pattern of creation, alienation, passion and new creation.

If you like some ideas and not others, or even agree with some – but not all – of the theology or terminology in the liturgy, the authors say that your church is welcome to adapt it to suit.

Even if your church doesn’t use this resource, perhaps it could inspire you and your church to think about what you believe, and be a catalyst for thinking about how you would like to draw thankfulness to God for the world into your worship.

“…we face the ecological crisis with Christ, and we serve Christ in the healing of creation.”

This resource has been produced by Norman Habel and the Justice and International Mission of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Care overflowing

We need creation. So argues Russell D. Moore in an article about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

We need it, because it provides us with everything practical for us to survive. We need warmth and light from the sun, oxygen and sustenance from plants, and mud, clay and trees to shelter us.

We need it because we’re made of it: “….we’re made of Spirit-enlivened mud.” We are not disembodied beings.

More than that, Moore explains that God has hard-wired us to see God’s hand in creation (Romans 1:18-21).

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” (verse 20)

This is not Moore saying that God is creation. Rather, creation is God’s masterpiece – here for us to marvel at and to be thankful to the Creator for its mysterious and magnificent design, and for the way it provides for our physical needs.

What does it mean for me? I can’t help but think of Banjo Patterson’s poem “Clancy of the Overflow”, of the wistfulness expressed about wanting to be outdoors. He writes of Clancy:

"And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
   In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
  And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars."

This attitude is shared by others. In a 2008 study of church-going Protestants in Scotland, 82.7% said that they found “being outdoors and appreciating the beauty of nature” was influential in shaping their attitudes towards the environment.

Being earthly beings ourselves, and seeing the wonderful creation God has made (and continually sustains) around us, is it any wonder that we love being outdoors?

As image-bearers of God and co-heirs with Christ, creation is also ours – and we need it to flourish ourselves. Yet Moore reminds us that our dominion of creation should be characterised by humble service. He writes, “….this isn’t a pharaoh-like dominion; it’s a Christ-like dominion.”

What does this mean for Christians – conservative and liberal alike? It means dominion over creation both when we use it and when we conserve it for future generations.

Can we trust what some scientists are saying?

Is climate change real?

How can the climate be warming when places like Melbourne have had amazing cold snaps this winter? Forget four seasons in one day – it’s one season, and its cold.

Adam Morton from The Age reports on a new study that says global warming is undeniable.

The 2009 State of the Climate Report, published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found the last decade was the hottest around the world since modern temperature records began.

In addition to rising temperatures (the report found that each year between 2000 and 2009 were hotter than the average global temperature for the 1990s, and, in the same way, each year between 1990 and 1999 were hotter than the 1980), the report pointed to places which experienced unusually hot and cold periods and extreme weather. Taking a closer look at home, Morton considers events in Australia last year, like the heat waves in the south-east of Australia in January and February which took many lives, and large-scale flooding in Queensland later in the year.

The report answers my question about Melbourne. The authors of the report believe that there will still be cold spells but they won’t be as intense or frequent as what they have been in the past.

How can we believe what they’re saying though?

There were more than 300 scientists who analised data for the report.

The information came from 7000 weather stations in 48 countries.

In addition, for the first time, data from several climate indicators were put together. These include data from: glacier, snow and sea ice cover, temperature over land and sea and temperatures from the lower atmosphere.

Co-author of the report Derek Arndt explains: “It’s testing all the parts, and they’re all in agreement that the same thing’s going on.”

Does this answer our questions?

Can we trust these scientists and the data that they’ve used?

The tide is turning

Many Christians in the US are thinking again about their attitude towards the environment. They’re part of a broader shift in the US towards a pro-environmental stance after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

So says a Christianity Today editorial.

The Gulf oil spill has washed into the homes of Christians around America, because of the intensity of media attention given to the disaster.

This editorial argues that “[t]he Bible is replete with the idea that all creation—everything from rocks and trees to badgers and eagles—is to witness to divine grace…”

Yet, how can a sea choked with oil foster life which gives glory to God?

The article argues that this sea is swimming in its own ocean of human greed.

Southern Baptist theologian Russell Moor asks, how can we say we love and worship the Giver of Life if we don’t care about this disaster which has killed and destroyed?

The article concludes,

“The church—created to glorify God—can no longer pretend that creation care is an issue just for ‘sea huggers.’ We are the sea huggers. We must change our talk to embrace creation care, and eagerly walk that talk.”

Have you been baptised?

My baptism was a gentle sprinkling over my forehead when I was a wee baby.

Jesus got a thorough dunking by John in the Jordan (Matthew 3:13-7, Mark 1:9-11).

As I think of these sacred moments, the song by Alison Krauss rings through my mind…

“O sinners, let’s go down, let’s go down, come on down, O sinners let’s go down, down in the river to pray.”

In our ancient Judeo-Christian history, water is a powerful theme.

Purity and cleansing. Baptism.

Some churches choose to use water instead of wine for Holy Communion/Eucharist.

Jesus and miracles involving water.

Jesus the living water (John 7:37-9).

Up until recently (as in last few hundred years). Most people didn’t have water at the turn of a handle in their bathroom or kitchen, or house for that matter. Water was a necessity of life and often difficult to acquire. Water, for quenching thirst, cooking, cleaning, keeping the animals, growing food..the list goes on.

What does water mean for us today? Sure, we still need water for drinking and so on. That hasn’t changed. But, it is readily available. Crystal clear, pouring in abundance out of our taps. No worries mate!

And yet, in this Guardian article “The River Jordan’s Shame“, Martin Palmer laments the degradation of these historically significant  – sacred to many – rivers. Rivers that have flowed through our Bible stories, flowed through the lands of our spiritual ancestors.

In the case of the Jordan River. It is a Jordan trickle. He writes, “I should have expected it. I had spent the previous two days meeting with Jordanian environmentalists and they had been telling me about their country’s massive water problems.”

Palmer optimistically discusses a growing movement to help bring environmental restoration to pilgrimage cities and rivers, driven by religious leaders and denominations.

He celebrates this move, saying, “[t]he combined power of religious and secular authorities can mean a clean-up programme inspired not just by economics but by a vision of nature as a gift of God for which we have a responsibility to care.”

Thanks to this dedicated and persistent bunch of people, let’s hope that one day soon there will be more water in the Jordan, and that a Sikh having a purifying wash in the Kali Bein, India, doesn’t catch salmonella.

Palmer points to other rivers and places, like the United States, where this movement is also occurring  but (I presume) without the need for the waterway to be a drawer of pilgrims. This is inspiring news. Yet, I wonder about our rivers.

The great Murray doesn’t feature in the Bible, explicitly. Does that mean we shouldn’t care for it?  What is driving a group of Catholics to care for the Hudson River in New York state?

Hooray for hippos

hippo_hiding

When we think of “Hippo” and “Christianity”, what comes to mind?

One answer might be that Augustine (354-430) was Bishop of a place called Hippo (from 395-430).

Another might be that God loves hippos.

Hard to believe? They are very bad tempered, not very cuddly or good looking and in the eyes of most humans they are not very useful either.

Yet, God really does love hippos, and greenFish has adapted the work of Calvin DeWitt to show young people why (See: God loves hippos).

About hippos God said things like…

….what power in the muscles of his belly!”

And

“…it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth.”

Even though this resource focuses on hippos as an example (and what a great example!) greenFish put together this resource explain God’s love for, and celebration of, all creation.

It includes some fun activities in response to the material as well at 11 fascinating facts about hippos.

For example, did you know that hippos produce their own sunscreen?

I can’t resist asking “What would Jesus eat?” after reading this article on gluttony and our personal sense of wholeness. (See US based campaign “What Would Jesus Drive”? initiated by the Evangelical Environment Network, and also here for a history of the WWJD movement.)

Ryan Andrews challenges us to critically think about our eating habbits in relation to our Christian beliefs. He asks, in “…a society that rejoices in over-consumption…” what does our over-eating say about how we’re seeking fulfillment and what consequences does our eating have on others and the world?

Do we treat our bodies like a temple?

Do we use food or drink to fill that hole created by busy lives – with deficiencies in rest and relaxation…and I would add, relationships?

He specifically points out that his questions aren’t about getting us on a diet. Although he highlights that 67 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese (Australians are in the same league: the National Health Survey 2007-08 found 61 percent of the Australian population were overweight or obese), his concern lies with our behaviour and our relationship to food.

I confess, as I sat here reading this article I felt quietly smug. I’m pretty good at avoiding chips and the junk food section of the supermarket (although I do have a weakness for sweet foods). Yet Andrews argues that even someone who eats mostly healthy foods can be gluttonous. He’s got me there.

This is a thought-provoking article. He draws us to the global implications of what we put in our mouths – for the poor and the environment. One question I’d ask him is where he got his statistics on meat consumption in America: they’re pretty wild stats and, assuming they’re correct, are very challenging.

Check out this Bible study by ChristopBrooks based on the story of Noah’s Arc.

See here: “Without the rain there would be no rainbow.”

To Christop’s list of engaging questions, I would add one question inspired by Michael Northcott and others (such as Robert Murray):

What does it mean for us, that the covenant that God establishes after the flood is between not only God and humans, but also includes every living thing on the planet?

God explains his creature-loving covenant at least three times in the passage.

Enamel basinI’ve been talking for a while about having bucket baths instead of showers to save water. In part, my logic says that if I’ve gone to the other side of the world to study environmental ethics (Edinburgh, Scotland), I should be living out my values. Yet, anyone who knows me well would know that of all the choices our household has made this is by far the most self-sacrificial.

I find nothing more enjoyable than taking a long, hot, soothing shower. It is a little bit of luxury that I deserve, I tell myself. It is something that I’ve been saying for the last 20 years.

Yet, as I read the Water, water article in The Age newspaper, I am challenged again to curb my self-indulgent water habit. Gallagher writes that despite a good dose of rain in the last month (it was the wettest June since 2001), we can’t take a collective sigh of relief. She points to experts who reckon it will “take more than a decade of good rainfall to fill the state’s catchments.” And, while Melbourne Water’s John Woodland comforts us by pointing out that they are huge dams to fill, Gallagher notes that storage levels are also affected by logging and levels of moisture in the soil in the catchment areas. Simon Birrell, from the Melbourne Water Catchment Network explains that logging not only reduces the levels of water flowing into dams but also increases bushfire risks.

It all seems all so overwhelming. It pours in June and yet it isn’t good enough. We have big dams, but we’ve created a rod for our own backs by allowing logging in these important areas. What can I do in response? Should I embark on another challenge to curb my water use?

My first response is no. If I opt for a bucket bath I fail at the first hurdle because I simply don’t have the infrastructure. You see, I have a good enamel bowl, but no enamel jug. And it has to be a matching set before I can begin this venture.

On the other hand, this isn’t just about the level of our dams (sitting at 33.7% currently). It’s about what I am saying I think is important through my actions. Even if our dams were 80% full, I don’t really need to have that five – or twelve – minute shower.

We can look at this bucket bath issue from another point of view. And this is where it moves from a commitment to an interesting challenge. We use 138 litres of water a person a day in our household (see target155). That is 413 litres a day shared between three people. (Some may say I’m cheating by counting our 8 month old daughter in that calculation. But I reckon that with all the extra cleaning, cooking, loads of nappies and other wash, as well as a bath once or twice a week, she is definitely contributing to our water use.) The challenge becomes seeing just how much damage my showers are doing to our water use compared with my new bucket baths.

The challenge: I’m going to use a basin and a little bowl (pictured), until I can locate a white-with-blue-edging enamel jug. The basin holds 5 litres of water. That is the limit for my bucket baths. Five litres. Five.  When our next water bill comes in, we can do a comparison. That’s assuming I can stick to my resolve and opt for a scant wash instead of a luxurious hot downpour.

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