Paul Bodenham is the Chair of Green Christian, a Passionist Partner, and here reflects on the charity’s work and mission.
Over the last year we have seen a succession of dire scientific reports on the environment. Surely now no-one can now doubt the crisis we’re in. With climate change approaching tipping-point, dwindling wildlife, and rising tides of plastic waste, this is a hard time to hope.
On the face of it there are two alternatives: succumb to despair, or whistle a happy tune and kid yourself that easy solutions are in our reach. If we talk about the environmental crisis at all, we incline to one or other of these alternatives. In our heart of hearts many of us know that they are both dangerous fallacies.
But there is a third way. We can understand the current age as an ecological Passiontide. There will be hope and joy – as there always is in God – but much has to be stripped away if we are to get there. Here in the consumer economies of the global North, we must first confess our complicity in the self-interest and conventional violence that are crucifying the Earth.
Our true well-being rests in learning to live at the scale of our creation: then we will be reconciled with our own nature. That hope underpins much of what we do in Green Christian, particularly on Joy in Enough, our new campaign to build a just economy within the ecological limits of the Earth. Economics has withered to a ‘dismal science’ in the hands of a technocratic elite; we want to rescue it and see it revitalised as a joyful art in which all have a part to play.
We’re creating an interactive, accessible set of ‘café conversation’ modules, enabling groups of people to reimagine economics, and make practical choices together which prefigure a new economy. We’re collecting case studies, such as repair cafés, co-operatives and alternative finance, which show a new order already breaking through. We’re forming partnerships with other campaigns, so that together we can build a movement. And we’re preparing a public declaration calling for transition to a sustainable economic model, to be signed by church leaders and opinion formers.
We are in no doubt of the scale of these ambitions – nothing less than a transformation of the economy. The support of the Passionists, financial and moral, is vital to help us unlock both the funding and the energy we need. Green Christian is known for being at the leading edge of Christian ecological witness, but we are a small national charity of about 850 members. We were formed in 1982 to build a bridge between Christianity and the Green movement, and, although the ‘integrity of creation’ is now a mainstream Christian concern, there is still much further to go before the churches fulfil their prophetic vocation.
Meanwhile we are here to help Christians in the UK, with or without their churches, to grow in radical Christian ecological discipleship, through practical and spiritual formation, publications and events. We offer a creative community, where people can grow in prayer, gentle lifestyle, public witness, and mutual encouragement – and help others do the same. A co-operative ethos has always been important to us, and many of our members take an active part in sustaining and developing our work.
For times like this, we have to be in the business of courage. It is the Passion that gives me the courage I need: courage to notice the unfolding trauma of the Earth; courage to grieve what we witness; courage to find the power-to-act that lies beyond illusion; courage, finally, to set out for the joy that costs everything, because in it we are reconciled with all of life.
To find out more see the following two websites:
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