Tag Archives: church

PRESS RELEASE:Call for ‘cloud of witnesses’ to support Christian climate protesters on trial

I do not consider this a worthy cause as these are simply protestors claiming their actions are a Christian virtue. They are not.

However it does illustrate the fact that the churches have lost the plot on then environment and prefer watermelons

 

Monday 23rd May 2016

Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/press-releasecall-for-cloud-of-witnesses-to-support-christian-climate-protesters-on-trial/

Climate Change_149Supporters of action against climate change are invited to gather in front of Hammersmith Magistrates Court at 9am on Tuesday 31st May to pray and vigil as five Christian climate activists go on trial for whitewashing the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

On the first day of the Paris climate conference in November of last year, five members of Christian Climate Action exposed the hypocrisy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change by whitewashing its walls and rebranding it the Department for Extreme Climate Change in black paint. The protesters were arrested and charged with criminal damage.

The activists will enter court at 9:15am. After this there will be short vigils on the hour and half hour outside court throughout the day. Supporters are welcome to join these vigils at any time throughout the day for as short or long a time as they wish. More details: http://tinyurl.com/hp2v3h4

One of the five, Westley Ingram, said,

‘We stand everyday before a Judge who holds us to account. This day in court must be considered in this light. There are two judges, two laws and two authorities ruling on our actions and one must be subservient to the other. The conduct of this government through DECC is on trial today as well ourselves. We encourage Christians to consider whether civil disobedience may be considered holy obedience when the law of the land is in conflict with the law of love as exemplified by Jesus Christ.’

Phil Kingston, 80, said:

‘I am looking forward to speaking on behalf of my grandchildren and their generation, and the generations who will follow them: to continue to add to this unprecedented concentration of greenhouse gases when we know that they are causing climate change is, I believe, to cause criminal damage at a worldwide level.’

Helen Whitall, said:

‘What we did was reasonable under the circumstance. As a Christian I feel that whilst it is essential to always act out of love for God and others, I have a responsibility to speak out against injustice to protect all that God loves, human and non-human, which may at times involve non-violent direct action in the tradition of Christ and the prophets where I feel justice and truth are being silenced.’

Ruth Jarman, said:
‘For 20 years I have been campaigning on climate change and it is clear to me that lawful political action is not being heeded. When we look back to times when governments and their laws were wrong we revere those who broke the law to stand up for what is right. In many cases peaceful civil disobedience enabled the change to a better society. The law is here to keep order and peace but climate change is set to bring unimaginable chaos and breakdown of global civil society. Campaigning to the limit of the law and then standing by and watching the destruction of what God has made can’t be right. When there is a mismatch between obeying the laws of our country and those of God, I have to go with the latter. It is Christian obedience, rather than civil disobedience. For me, being a Christian requires me to listen to my conscience and act accordingly.’

The group has received support from a number of theologians. The scholar, writer and broadcaster, Professor Alastair McIntosh said,

‘Christian Climate Action is a howl of prophetic protest against the kings of our time, who have turned their backs on caring for the Creation, and imagine they can do so with spiritual impunity.’

Professor Tim Gorringe, Emeritus Professor of Theological Studies at the University of Exeter, said:

‘Wendell Berry speaks of organized Christianity as a “respecter and comforter of profitable iniquities”. This includes war, in all its forms, which is blessed and hallowed in every Cathedral and in most parish churches, and support for an economic system which threatens to make human life on earth impossible. Both are in contradiction of every single line of the Messianic Writings. To be Church, which is disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, is to protest these blasphemies and to call for a politics and an economy which is answerable to the God of Life.’

ENDS

Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

Editors Notes:
More information, including statements of support and photographs, can be found on our website: http://www.christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
A video of our action: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/climate-change-activists-vandalise-government-building-ahead-of-paris-climate-talks-a6754496.html
The letter handed into DECC at the time of the action:https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/dear-amber-the-letter-we-handed-in-to-decc-to-explain-our-re-branding-exercise/
The statement read out by one of the five, Ruth Jarman, at her police interview following arrest:https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/ruth-jarmans-statement-read-at-police-interview-at-charing-cross-police-station-30th-nov-2015/

Robust (?) approach (by churches) to fossil fuels required

On 15th April 2016 the Church Times (house paper of the Church of England) published an article

Robust approach to fossil fuels required

by Dr Hannah arguing that the churches need to bear down hard on fossil fuel firms. This reflects the view of Operation Noah, a Christian group very concerned with climate change and through its off-shoot Bright Now pushing for fossil fuel divestment by the churches.

In early 2015 Bright Now produced the argument for divestment which can be seen here;

http://brightnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Bright-Now-Report.pdf 

The argument is very one-sided and looks to Lord Stern and the Centre of Alternative Technology‘s arguments for Zero Carbon. Any other argument, such as that of dieter Helm in The Carbon Crunch simply is not mentioned. Its description of fracking is simply woeful.

As I was not happy with article I wrote a brief letter which was published on 22nd April;

Dear Sir
A more robust approach to fossil fuels
Having recently given a paper at an international conference of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) in Spain, I found  the article “Robust Approach to fossil fuels required” (CT 15/4/16) rather inadequate and strident. It reflects the current phobia of fossil fuels with realising there are no alternatives in the foreseeable future. Concern for the planet is essential but it must be grounded in realism.
Fossil fuels will be used way into the 22nd century whether we like it or not and the key is to use them in an environmentally sensitive way. Thus coal needs to eliminated as soon as possible and natural gas must be seen as the best/least worst replacement either as a bridge fuel or having a permanent place (hopefully with CCS). Few commentators expect fossil fuels to be replaced by 2050 if at all, and are thus not going to be stranded assets. (petroleum companies will change drastically in the next decades.)
I found the article both biased and in places inaccurate (as over claims that petroleum companies have almost all the necessary expertise for CCS). Much of the “robust approach” is simply ill-informed attacks on oil and gas, as is seen over fracking on onshore oil and gas in the UK. Sadly too many Christian green groups repeat the inaccuracies of the green NGOs, Naomi Klein and others, and that includes Operation Noah.
Rather than “robust approaches”, which are often inaccurate and ideological attacks on ALL fossil fuels, all in general, and the churches in particular, need to consider what are the best (or least worst) energy solutions for the present rather than to have blind faith in renewables, which at present produce less than 5% of the worlds energy. To go from 5% to 100% will take many, many decades. As Prof Dieter Helm recently pointed out, we have no alternatives at present and need to go into to the future with a mix of energies, including nuclear, which is a no-no for many. Most importantly he emphasises the need for far more research in alternatives, rather than pinning our hopes on our present and limited renewables.
The “Carbon Bubble” will not burst and will either go to an environmental indifference at great human cost or the development of a greener energy mix. The pushing of green idealism and ideology makes the former more likely.
Sincerely
Michael Roberts
Unsurprisingly there were two letters in the Church Times today; one from Ruth Jarman of Operation Noah, who is awaiting a court case for daubing paint over the DECC building in London. Here she is saying prayers after daubing the building.
jarman decc)
Dr Hannah also replied, accusing me of having “a mindset, also found among executives of oil and gas multinationals”, which is an offensive statement as well as untrue. As he is an expert in Second Temple Judaism, I am sure he would welcome Francis Egan , John Dewar or any other leading oil or gas executicve to present a paper on second Temple Judaism at a theological conference.
I was not surprised at these two reactions from members of Operation Noah, but it does show I touched a raw nerve.
I have to say I am very concerned at the way groups like Operation Noah  are misleading the church at present and this is not helped by Rowan Williams supporting the Cambridge University Zero Carbon Society, who published their report this week http://zerocarbonsoc.soc.srcf.net/ with Rowan writing a supporting preface. He may know his theology but not his energy issues.
I reckon that poor “Christian” arguments like thes actually do no good for the environment and undermine the credibility of the church. I am afraid the various churches have been very naive over both Climate Change and fracking and just jumped onto MCkibben’s 350.0rg divestment program.
Fortunately I am not alone in my opposition to such ideas on divestment or fracking, but few are prepared to put their heads above the parapet. The weakness in the church is that they ignore those who actually have some knowledge of the extractive industries, which are regarded as dirty and capitalistic. Here the gospel of St Naomi Klein is of more importance than that of Jesus Christ.

Blog

29 APR 2016

Darrell Hannah’s Church Times article: Robust approach to fossil fuels required

Following the Church of England’s decision at last year’s General Synod to pursue a policy of ‘robust engagement’ with fossil fuel companies rather than disinvestment, Operation Noah trustee The Revd Dr. Darrell D. Hannah wrote the following article for the Church Times outlining what ‘robust engagement’ would truly require to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C. Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign continues to call on UK churches to fully disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

This article was first published by the Church Times on 15 April 2016:www.churchtimes.co.uk

Robust approach to fossil fuels required

The Church must keep up the pressure on oil and gas companies, arguesDarrell Hannah

Much has changed in the past ten months. The recognition by the nations participating in the UN climate summit in Paris, COP21 (News, 11 December 2015), of the need to keep the world’s temperature rise to under 1.5°C has revealed an urgency that has often been lacking until now: it has changed the game with regard to even the medium-term viability of oil and gas multinationals.

To keep below a 1.5°C rise, about 85 per cent of all fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground. The 2.0°C target required about 80 per cent of all fossil fuels (88 per cent of coal reserves, 35 per cent of oil and 52 per cent of gas) to remain unburned.

Not surprisingly, investors and market analysts speak of ‘a carbon bubble’ and ‘stranded assets’ with regard to fossil-fuel companies. For any corporation 80 per cent (or 35 per cent or 52 per cent) of whose assets are untouchable must be deemed a risky investment. Now, with the world committed to less than a 1.5°C rise, even more of those assets are in danger of being stranded, and the bubble has grown larger.

In addition, the number and severity of extreme weather events have increased. The excessive rain and floods in the north of England and Scotland in January this year are the fourth such ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ or ‘once-in-a-century’ weather events in the UK since 2000 (News, 1 January). Similar patterns of extreme floods, and/or droughts, and subsequent wild fires, have occurred in North America, Australia and North Africa. The past year, 2015, was unambiguously the hottest globally on record, with 2005, 2010 and 2014 tied for the next hottest year.

We should also consider the implications of the current migration crisis in Europe. The 2006-09 drought in Syria was one of the stress factors that led to its continuing civil war, which in turn has contributed significantly to the unprecedented number of immigrants seeking entrance into Europe. It is increasingly clear that it is not just poor nations that will be affected by climate change. We are already beginning to experience the consequences in Europe.

Nonetheless, the oil and gas companies continue to conduct their business as if nothing had changed. BP’s recent report Energy Outlook 2016 Edition: Outlook to 2035 tacitly acknowledges the need for change, but puts the onus on governments. Moreover, the report predicts that the demand for oil and gas will increase in the coming decades. In view of the decisions made at the Paris climate summit, this must be deemed environmentally and financially irresponsible.

In the light of the Paris summit, the worsening effects of climate change and the business-as-usual attitude of the industry, a small working group of those responsible for the Oxford and Birmingham diocesan disinvestment motions met to discuss what ‘robust engagement’ should look like in the current context. This is a summary of our discussion.

Last year, the EIAG’s initiative, Aiming for A, succeeded in getting resolutions calling for enhanced disclosure of carbon emissions passed, with large majorities, by shareholders’ meetings of both BP and Shell. Exxon refused – and is still refusing – to consider such a resolution.

Thus, with the EIAG’s encouragement, Shell and BP (but not Exxon) have promised to disclose just how much carbon their operations emit. It is now essential that these companies, as well as others, progress to actual reductions in carbon emissions – and not just more promises of further disclosure – or EIAG’s much heralded Aiming for A will be deemed a failure.

Oil and gas multinationals must also radically reduce exploration. Since, as noted above, approximately 85 per cent of known fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of remaining below a 1.5°C rise, it is senseless for multinationals to continue to outlay more than $300 billion annually, which they spent in the past two years for which records are available (2012 and 2013), in the search for more oil and gas reserves.

Any future exploration in sensitive areas, such as the Arctic and certain coastal regions, must be avoided altogether. Furthermore, it follows just how spurious is the claim – which was made, for example, at the General Synod meeting in July – that companies need to continue some limited exploration because many of their reserves are situated in difficult locations where extraction is expensive.

Even if this were accepted, it is obvious that the $300 billion spent annually would still be excessive. Oil and gas companies have been exploring for the best locations for more than 100 years. The primary reason that they have been forced to search in less advantageous locations, such as deep sea and the Arctic, is because the unproblematic locations have already been exploited.

Since the vast majority of fossil-fuel reserves are unburnable if the world is to avoid a 1.5°C rise, more radical and imaginative ways of thinking must be considered by the oil and gas multinationals. To an objective observer, their long-term future in their current form must be regarded as extremely questionable.

Therefore, if they are to be ethically responsible towards their shareholders, they need to move to a ‘harvest mode’ of operation, bringing exploration to an end, and progressively reducing oil and gas production. This could either result in increased dividends, as the capital value of the company is returned to shareholders over time, or it could be coupled with diversification into renewables, more efficient battery storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS), where oil and gas companies already have almost all the necessary expertise.

The companies should consider converting their petrol stations to the re-fuelling of electric or hydrogen vehicles. The flirtation with renewables by a few oil and gas multinationals a decade or so ago and their current pitiful level of investment in CCS appear to be no more than exercises in public relations. ‘Robust engagement’ would seek to convince the oil and gas companies that the transformation of such image management into their core business models is their only hope of survival.

It is also essential that these companies begin the process of moving jobs from oil and gas production to renewables and CCS. Oil and gas multinationals could potentially be a powerful voice with governments. Instead of spending significant resources lobbying governments to protect their subsidies and their current rates of emissions, they should concentrate their lobbying efforts on influencing governments to seize this moment of change, and support renewables, CCS and electric or hydrogen vehicles.

Finally, ‘robust engagement’ must recognise the huge influence that these multinationals have with other players, especially state-owned oil and gas companies. State-controlled companies – such as Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), the China National Petroleum Corporation, National Iranian Oil Company, Petróleos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) – own most of the world’s reserves of coal, oil and gas, while those companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges, such as BP, Shell and Exxon, among others, possess a much smaller market share.

Nonetheless, the division between the two types of companies is not as great as it seems. Many of the largest state-owned companies float some of their stock, recruit non-executive directors from the publicly traded companies and contract these companies to help extract their reserves.

The immense influence that the listed companies have means that where they lead, state-owned oil and gas companies inevitably follow. Thus the multinationals need to be encouraged to take their leadership seriously, and to cease using their smaller share of the market as an excuse to avoid necessary change.

At a recent meeting in the Guildhall, attended by more than 2000 investment managers and asset-owners, it was suggested that companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon could soon go the way of Kodak, Blockbuster and Olivetti typewriters. This seems an incredible statement, until one remembers just how quick was the demise of these three commercial monoliths. If Shell and BP were to follow the example of Kodak and Blockbuster, the impact on the pensions of millions of ordinary individuals would be disastrous.

‘Robust engagement’ that is worthy of the name should include challenging oil and gas multinationals to make real reductions in carbon emissions now; to end nearly all exploration; to move to a harvest mode for the oil and gas parts of their business; to diversify into CCS, renewables and the servicing of electric and hydrogen vehicles without delay; to begin moving jobs towards renewables and CCS; to lobby governments to invest in renewables and CCS; and to show real leadership in the industry, especially towards those in the state sector.

All this is necessary, most importantly, because of what the enormous threat of climate change means to God’s world and his children, but also because of the danger that the national investment bodies of the Church of England will lose many millions when the ‘carbon bubble’ bursts.

The Revd Dr Darrell D. Hannah is Rector of All Saints’, Ascot Heath, in Berkshire, and a board member of Operation Noah. This article incorporates contributions from the Revd Hugh Lee, Marilyn Hull and the Revd John Nightingale.

 

My reply published on 22nd April 2016
Dear Sir
A more robust approach to fossil fuels
Having recently given a paper at an international conference of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) in Spain, I found  the article “Robust Approach to fossil fuels required” (CT 15/4/16) rather inadequate and strident. It reflects the current phobia of fossil fuels with realising there are no alternatives in the foreseeable future. Concern for the planet is essential but it must be grounded in realism.
Fossil fuels will be used way into the 22nd century whether we like it or not and the key is to use them in an environmentally sensitive way. Thus coal needs to eliminated as soon as possible and natural gas must be seen as the best/least worst replacement either as a bridge fuel or having a permanent place (hopefully with CCS). Few commentators expect fossil fuels to be replaced by 2050 if at all, and are thus not going to be stranded assets. (petroleum companies will change drastically in the next decades.)
I found the article both biased and in places inaccurate (as over claims that petroleum companies have almost all the necessary expertise for CCS). Much of the “robust approach” is simply ill-informed attacks on oil and gas, as is seen over fracking on onshore oil and gas in the UK. Sadly too many Christian green groups repeat the inaccuracies of the green NGOs, Naomi Klein and others, and that includes Operation Noah.
Rather than “robust approaches”, which are often inaccurate and ideological attacks on ALL fossil fuels, all in general, and the churches in particular, need to consider what are the best (or least worst) energy solutions for the present rather than to have blind faith in renewables, which at present produce less than 5% of the worlds energy. To go from 5% to 100% will take many, many decades. As Prof Dieter Helm recently pointed out, we have no alternatives at present and need to go into to the future with a mix of energies, including nuclear, which is a no-no for many. Most importantly he emphasises the need for far more research in alternatives, rather than pinning our hopes on our present and limited renewables.
The “Carbon Bubble” will not burst and will either go to an environmental indifference at great human cost or the development of a greener energy mix. The pushing of green idealism and ideology makes the former more likely.
Sincerely
Michael Roberts

 

 

John Donne on the Annunciation and Good Friday on 25th MarchThe Feast of the Annunciation via John Donne

Today -25th March – is both Good Friday and the feast of the Annunciation (nine months before Christmas Day so the notional day when Mary conceived). Thus we have both the incarnation and atonement on the same day.

So today we can remember both God becoming human in the conception of Jesus  – the Incarnation;

And, dying on the cross to be our redeemer

 

It is not an easy poem  but summed up in the line;

At once a son is promised her, and gone ;

(I give the words pinched from a blog)

On Annunciation and Passion Falling on the Same Day. 1609.
by John Donne

TAMELY, frail body, abstain to-day ; to-day
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur ; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away ;
She sees Him nothing, twice at once, who’s all ;
She sees a cedar plant itself, and fall ;
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive, yet dead ;
She sees at once the Virgin Mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha ;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty, and at scarce fifteen ;
At once a son is promised her, and gone ;
Gabriell gives Christ to her, He her to John ;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity ;
At once receiver and the legacy.
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
Th’ abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one—
As in plain maps, the furthest west is east—
Of th’ angels Ave, and Consummatum est.

This is but the first part of Donne’s poem; the second deals with the wisdom, authority, and piety of the Church. I would try to go over this with various of my classes every year, but this year, as I am behind in my classes, its treatment here will have to suffice.

The poem is fairly transparent, except when you don’t know what either the Annunciation or the  culmination of Passiontide are (which almost none of them do). Once I start talking about “the passion of the Christ,” then most of them are clued in. That, and that 25 March is nine months prior to Nativity/Christmas.

If this coincidence happened in the Latin church, then the feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on the Monday following Easter; when it happens for the Orthodox, we celebrate a full Liturgy on that Great and Holy Friday (Good Friday), as feasts of the Incarnation will ‘trump’ even this solemnity. Since we put our moveable feasts on the Gregorian Calendar, as I have been told, this never occurs anymore, and more’s the pity. Today we would have normally, as is the Orthodox reglua for Lent, celebrated the Liturgy of St. Basil this morning, but instead it is that of St. John Chrysostom.

The genius of Donne’s poem moves through the ‘hither and away’ of the second line: the ministry of the Incarnate Christ is seen almost fully in this day, Christ comes to Mary by the word of Gabriel and through the Holy Spirit, and is taken away on the cross (and thus we fast on Fridays, for it is on this day that the bridegroom is taken away). The metaphors cause my students some perplexity, largely because they have no knowledge of ‘ecclesiastical’ parlance. The Latin at the end always surprises me, though. Consummatum est (it is finished) not quite so much, but while many of them have heard the Ave Maria – – and if they haven’t I start singing it for them – -they have no idea what it has to do with. The point about plain maps (which we still use) is that the furthest eastern tip of Siberia at the Bering Strait is the same as the furthest western tip of Alaska. What also surprised many of my students is Donne’s ‘misplaced’ devotion to our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. It comes as some surprise to them that most of the Reformers were very devoted to Mary, and I cannot think of one of them that did not confess her perpetual virginity. I also tell them that some people have thought Donne a “closet papist.”

So, I wish all of you a blessed feast, and hope you have enjoyed the poem.

 

Source: The Feast of the Annunciation via John Donne

Baptising a doll! A Baptism service all can understand!!

One of the problems of Church of England worship is that most churches use the prayer book Complicated Worship ooops, sorry, Common Worship, which was published in 2000. It is often said you need a doctorate in liturgy either to understand or use it. To illustrate what I mean, in the old1662 Book of Common Prayer, which some reckon is beyond comprehension, there are only about four different variants one can use on a given Sunday. In the Alternative Service Book (ASB) published in 1980 I gave up calculating when I got to a few million.. Now for the recent Complicated Worship I did a rough calculations of possible variants and came to 6.595,459,254,000 different ways a priest to celebrate on a given sunday! One of the results is that worship can get very complicated and difficult to follow. That is often combined with a priestly desire to include as many different things in worship as possible. It can get even less understandable that the “hocus pocus” of the medieaval Latin mass.

Well, tomorrow after the General Synod have sorted out Climate Change  (and hopefully put the Church’s Green Blob to flight) they will be discussing Baptism services, as many find the present one to complicated, especially for those with no contact with the church. Hopefully they will produce something simpler.

My wife, also a priest, has produced what is needed!!!! She was asked to do the mock baptism of a doll for an infant class in our church school so produced a service for it.  (The kids named the doll as Sandra Cat Thomas!

Well, here it is ;

 

THE BAPTISM OF SANDRA CAT THOMAS 

We say Hello

PRIEST            Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord

Jesus Christ be with you.

ALL                  and also with you. 

Introduction

The Bible tells us that Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and the

Holy Spirit came upon him. After the first Easter the Bible tells us that Jesus

told his friends to go into all the world and tell everybody the Good News about

Him and to baptize everyone who wanted to become a Christian. We can

read in the Bible about how Peter and Jesus’s other friends did this.

Now today we are obeying the command of Jesus as we bring Sandra Cat to be

baptized.

A question for everyone

PRIEST            As the family and friends of Sandra Cat, will you welcome

her and help her to live her life as a Christian.

ALL                  With the help of God we will. 

Questions for Parents and Godparents

PRIEST            Parents and Godparents, this is a happy day and we all hope

that Sandra Cat will grow to love Jesus more. Will you pray

for her, give her a good example and help her on her journey

as a Christian ?

ANSWER                 With the help of God we will

PRIEST            Today Sandra Cat begins her journey as a Christian. You speak

for her today. Will you care for her and help her to take her

place as a member of the church.

ANSWER                 With the help of God we will 

The Decision

PRIEST            Do you turn to Christ ?

ANSWER                 I turn to Christ

PRIEST            Do you say you are sorry for doing wrong ?

ANSWER         I am sorry for doing wrong

PRIEST            Do you hate evil ?

ANSWER                 I hate evil

 

Prayer over the Water

PRIEST            Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of water. Bless

this water, that Sandra Cat who is to be baptized in it may grow up to know

and love Jesus and to follow Him as a member of his church.

ALL         AMEN 

We all say what Christians believe

PRIEST            Do you believe in God the Father who made us and loves us ?

ALL                  I believe and trust in him.

PRIEST            Do you believe in Jesus Christ who died and rose again ?

ALL                  I believe and trust in him.

PRIEST            Do you believe in the Holy Spirit who helps us live as Christians ?

ALL                  I believe and trust in him.

PRIEST            This is the faith of the Church.

ALL                  This is our faith. We believe and trust in God, Father, Son and

                          Holy Spirit.

THE BAPTISM

PRIEST            Sandra Cat, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of

the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

ALL                  AMEN

The signing with the Cross (our Christian badge)

PRIEST            Sandra Cat, Christ claims you as his own, receive the

sign of the Cross. Do not be ashamed to tell people you are

Jesus’s friend.

ALL                  Follow Jesus all your life and live as He wants you to. 

The giving of a candle

PRIEST            Jesus said “I am the Light of the world” and he wants us all to

Shine with this light all the days of our life.

ALL                  Sandra Cat shine as a light in the world for Jesus

The Welcome

PRIEST            Sandra Cat, there is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism and

we are all members of God’s family.

ALL                  Sandra Cat we are all children of God and we welcome you

As a member of his family, we welcome you.

Prayers

Father God, bless all those who care for Sandra Cat. May they love her and

care for her and keep her safe from harm. May they give her a good example

of how to follow Jesus day by day.

ALL Amen 

Father God, help us all to keep the promises that we have made to follow Jesus

May we always try to live your way and shine as lights for Jesus even when

its hard.

ALL Amen 

The Blessing

May the Lord bless you and take care of you.

Wherever you go may God the Father be with you.

Wherever you go may God the Son be with you.

Wherever you go may God the Spirit be with you.

May God’s Light always shine on you.

May you live in peace

ALL AMEN

 

 

THE APPEAL OF YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM

THE APPEAL OF YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM

Caution Creationists3

Why do so many Christians believe in Creationism when it runs counter to almost all of science and is seen to be nonsense, and even dishonest, by non-creationists, whether Christian or not?

This cannot be understood without grasping the deeply–felt reasons for believing what many scientists think nonsense. YEC provides the “scientific” capping to a “biblical Worldview”. This Worldview provides an all-embracing outlook on life and integrates every aspect of their lives. It also enables one to oppose non-Christian Worldviews and to be confident in the “Culture Wars

The most important reason for accepting YEC is not a literal Genesis, but a concern for salvation through Christ. The heart of evangelical faith is redemption through the death of Christ, expressed as Substitutionary Atonement in that Jesus’ death forgives sin and takes away the penalty of death. To some this is dependant on their being no death before the Fall

There can be no death before the Fall. I.e.physical death came in at the Fall (Gen 3) and before that no animal died or suffered. If T. Rex had actually attacked and killed herbivores 100 million years ago, then the whole Christian Faith will collapse like dominoes, hence the geological timescale MUST be false. Q.E.D.! This is at the heart of YEC arguments. This is tied into a particular view of Original Sin, whereby Jesus died on the Cross to take away the effects of Original sin. As in this interpretation of Genesis 3 it is seen that Original sin resulted in death, not only for humans but all life as life came under the curse of God and thus no animal died before that fateful fruit-eating.

sin-curse

 

Hence any claim that dinosaurs or even trilobites were predating and eating each other millions of years before humans appeared, all geological talk of millions and billions of years is thus WRONG

51gBlHMEfwL__SS500_dinopica

Or to sum up what Creationists say about geologists and biologists; “They are all dunces, and teach nonsense”.

SH16DARWIN2

 

Simple argument; if death before the Fall then Jesus cannot save. This is a powerful argument to many evangelicals, especially when put forward with fervour. Thus to a Creationist the whole Chritian gospel collapses like skittles if there was death before the Fall, including for animals.

The Bible says so,. Applied to Genesis, that means Creation in Six days and a worldwide flood. A Young Earth model supports this scientifically, so YEC is the ONLY valid interpretation

ararat_or_bust

Creationists even have a zoo in Bristol to further their ideas. Prof Alice Roberts and others have slated this zoo

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, Bristol, England, UK

The Bible is totally inerrant and does not make a mistake over anything and thus to deny a world-wide flood and to affirm vast geological time is to claim the Bible is errant. And so the logic goes; if the Bible “lies” over creation it must lie about Jesus.

The Sabbath and that is dependent on a six-day creation and thus “billions” of years is wrong..Hence as these arguments are seen as essential to belief in Jesus as Saviour then a Christian must be YEC. There are no nuances.

Moral concerns In his book The Genesis Solution Ken Ham, and in many other places argues that evolution leads to a decrease in marriage, an increase of suicides, euthanasia, pornography, abortions, promiscuity, sexual abuse, homosexuality, theft, violence, racism etc. Hence evolution is contrary to family values and results in a collapse of morality. Again this is a very persuasive argument of the skittles type.

Anti-reductionism or Nothing-buttery as Donald Mackay called it. I. e. everything is nothing but physics and chemistry and there is nothing distinct about humans. Reductionism often stems from a scientific materialist philosophy. Opposition to reductionism is widespread. Arthur Peacocke, biochemist and clergyman has opposed reductionism from a liberal theological position and founded the Society of Ordained Scientists in 1986 to facilitate this. The same with John Polkinghorne and Donald Mackay, and many members of the CIS and ASA, who reject YEC. However YEC is extreme anti-reductionism, but very beguiling to those who know no science, or who need a dogmatic answer to everything.

The shared belief of family and friends in Christ  This is often overlooked, but acceptance in the fullest sense in a YEC church is dependent on beleiving that YEC is correct  and all this evolution caper is wrong. It  is not difficult to see the pressure this puts on people to be Creationist, as to rejection will cause personal pain due to strained or broken relationahips. It easier simply to accept YEC and ignore any questions. If the church is officially YEC, it is even harder and the pressure to stay and conform is immense.

Many evangelical churches are large thriving ones, with plenty of mid-week activities. British ones are smaller than American but there is the danger of coercion to tow the line. Thus in a creationist church to question the leadership over creation is liable to lead to problems and pressure against one can build up. There are the usual challenges; “don’t you believe the Bible?”, “Why question God’s truth of creation which the pastor/vicar is teaching?”

This type of challenge is a disincentive even to air one’s questions and doubts, as you will realise that you could end up not being wanted in the church. The price of questioning is high. You can be edged out (or kicked out) and lose friends and much of your social life. It IS the unacceptable face of fundamentalism.

However it is denied vociferously.

For the last half-century many opponents of creationists have started by assuming  that if you can explain scientifically why creationism is wrong, creationists will give up that belief. They are soon shown to be wrong, because the reasons for believing creationism are more than scientific.

For many to reject creationism is to give up your faith, your church, your friends and associates, your social life and, possibly, your family. No wonder creationism is so had to challenge. After all, it is the TRUTH…

TruthBeTold (2)

 

Or isit?

God’s Grandeur; Gerard Manley Hopkins

GOD’S GRANDEUR – GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

It is time to step back from consider follies of humanity and focus on the Grandeur of God’s Creation and to see the natural world as a reflection of God and not self existent. With so much discussion on the environment (much stupid from extreme green groups and from those who simply exploit nature) it is a good time to reflect on our relationship to Creation. What better than to consider Hopkin’s marvellous poem;

“The World is charged with the grandeur of God”.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

  1. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

 

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights of the black west went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

(The photos are mostly from the North West of England and the mine is in New Mexico)

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889) wrote God’s Grandeur while living at St Beuno’s monastery near St Asaph in the Vale of Clwyd, where he studied theology from 1873 to 1877. In those years Hopkins wrote some of his finest and most hopeful poetry; The Windhover, Pied Beauty and The Starlit Night. But perhaps the finest is God’s Grandeur which is a deeply religious poem of the wonder of the natural world, or creation as Hopkins would say. Many have been moved by this poem and two books on a Christian concern for the environment use words from the poem as the title; Bent World by Ron Elsdon and Bright Wings by Peter Harris, which describes the unusual missionary project of opening up a nature reserve on the Algarve.

Yet though this poem has universal appeal with its evocation of the natural world and human responsibility for the environment, it is totally rooted in Hopkins’ experience of the landscape of the Clwydian Hills and the environs. Perhaps we can imagine Hopkins taking a long walk, or a series of walks from St Beuno’s.

 

As we consider the first four lines, let us imagine Hopkins ascending the hill above the monastery, Moel Maenfa which rises to just under one thousand feet. Perhaps on occasions he climbed this during a sunny spell after a heavy shower, a time when the Vale of Clwyd is especially beautiful, with the atmosphere crystal clear and whatever the season the colours at their best, whether the browns of winter or the greens of summer. Everything stands out in great sharpness, with the patchwork quilt of field and hedgerow leading up to the heather of the Denbigh Moors and beyond that the hills and mountains of Snowdonia. The whole landscape is more beautiful than normal, if that were possible and

“The World is charged with the grandeur of God”.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

  1. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

373

The whole vale seems to have an electrostatic charge, and all stands on end. Its enhanced reality seems also unreal, but in fact proclaiming the reality of God the Creator. Hopkins is almost echoing one of the nature psalms;

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

(Psalm 19 verses 1 -2 or else Psalm 104.)

DSCF3617475

001407

If he were a Protestant rather than a Jesuit, he may have been echoing Calvin in the Institutes, “the elegant structure of the world serving us as a kind of mirror, in which we may behold God.” Perhaps he was, as he was an Anglican until his early twenties. God’s grandeur in nature to Hopkins is so great that he cannot understand any who does not believe in the Creator, and so asks the question, “Why do men then now not reck his rod?” He meant those who did not reckognise(sic) God’s rod and sceptre, and was perhaps thinking of the physicist John Tyndall who attacked the Roman Catholic Church at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Belfast in 1870 for their alleged hostility to science.

From the beauty of the Vale of Clwyd Hopkins then takes us eight miles eastwards to one of the ugliest parts of North Wales – Halkyn Mountain, where at that time there was extensive lead and zinc mining, which exposed the grey limestone and covered everything with grey dust so that even the leaves were grey. The poor fellows who worked there were badly paid and also covered in grey dust;

198

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

 

Not that anyone would want to walk barefoot in a mine or in a quarry, though they would on lush green grass. These lines simply evoke desolation and environmental degradation, as the sprung rhythm collapses into a flat lifeless monotone. However Hopkins wishes to go beyond pollution to a rejection of God’s grandeur, as the poet T.S.Eliot expressed it years later, “a wrong attitude to nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude to God.”

 

From the dismal desolation of Halkyn Mountain, Hopkins descended a couple miles to Holywell and took refreshment at St Winefrede’s Well;

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

DSCF3682DSCF2874

The clear waters of the well washed away all that “is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;” and Hopkins felt clean again, as it were, washed in the baptismal waters which regenerated him. With this new life in him Hopkins could return to the summit of Moel Maenfa just in time to witness a glorious sunset;

And though the last lights of the black West went

and Hopkins evokes a sunset over the Denbigh Moors as the shadowy silhouettes of the Carneddau gradually fade into utter blackness, as the deep orange of the gloaming darkens and merges into the hills.

 

The utter blackness does not last as a few hours later dawn arrives to ussher in a new day and a new start with new hope.

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

370258

From considering the re-invigorating of the dawn Hopkins moved to the imagery of the First Day of Creation in Genesis Chapter One. When it came to Genesis Hopkins was no biblical fundamentalist thinking of a literal Six Day Creation, but rather drew out some of the more subtle meaning of the Bible. (As an aside there are more six-day literalists today than there were in his day! It is incredible that anyone with more than one brain-cell can believe such rubbish.) According to Genesis just before “And God said, ‘Let there be light.'”, we read “and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” Hopkins took an old understanding of Genesis whereby the Holy Spirit/Ghost re-ordered the originally formless Creation. He takes that idea and applies it to the dawn as symbolic of the Holy Ghost recreating and repairing a damaged world. As the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit the line “broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” encapsulates the creative power of the Holy Spirit.

 

The poem is one of great faith in the grandeur of God both as Creator and in the person of the Holy Spirit as Re-creator and Renewer, and is thus almost uncharacteristic of Hopkin’s more mournful style, which reached its climax in No Worst written in 1885. In view of the greater environmental degradation and the widespread awareness of environmental issues today one wonders whether Hopkins would be as hopeful today. Perhaps he would – as he believed in God’s Grandeur.

 

Michael Roberts