Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Earth is Full

Rev Peter Lockhart

So begins Paul Gilding’s book “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis will bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World”.

When I read the opening line of Gilding’s book I could not help but recall a story of a somewhat anonymous Jewish couple 2000 years. They travelled to Bethlehem for a census only to find the inn was full.

Despite the spare room being full a place is found in which God can break into our existence. A child is born, the Word incarnate: Jesus.

As I read Gilding’s book I was struck by the flow of his text from confrontation and confession into an invitation to repentance and renewal. Whilst not in any way obviously motivated by a Christian fervour there was for me a sense of the movement of the liturgy.

What I found striking about Gilding’s analysis of our human predicament was his attempt to identify not simply the symptom, climate change, but the cause of the problem.

We are, Gilding argues, addicted to growth. I found empathy with this thesis and was drawn to recall Clive Hamilton’s book “Requiem for a Species”. However, whilst Hamilton has a much bleaker view of our future Gilding pins his hopes in human ingenuity and the ability to what is required when the time comes.

Gilding admits throwing off the addiction to growth will not be easy. It will involve a great disruption – wars, refugees, widespread shortages in the basics of life; but, he believes, we will through.

As much as I would like to get on board Gilding’s train of hope in human ingenuity I remain just a little sceptical of placing my hope in a world where, “While we strive for larger televisions, DVD screens in our cars, and the perfectly grilled steak, they die for a glass of clean water or a bowl of rice.”

I don’t think our behaviour is necessarily malicious yet the consequences of our concupiscence, ignorant or otherwise, are wide ranging as we choose our own ends again and again over God’s.

Gilding’s words may have a sense of the prophetic about them and what he predicts may come to pass, for this reason I think the book is a very worthwhile read.

Yet I cannot help but think again of the source and direction of hope found in the Christ who even though the inn was full found space to come into our midst and is coming always into our present from a future yet to be revealed.

As I read "The Great Disurption" I felt myself travelling on the journey with Gilding with eyes wide open that despite our addicition to growth the God who made all things is at work in the world and asking:
Though the earth may be full can we not find confidence that the incarnate God will come among us, drawing us into the hope of the healing of the whole creation?  Is God not inviting us to witness to the promise of the reconciliation of all things in Jesus by considering our own relationship with the stuff we consume?

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