I’m pretty sure that many are not aware that apart from doing web work at Greenpeace for the past five years, I am also a seminarian working taking up a Master’s Degree in Theology at the Asian Theological Seminary.

Personally, I find my work with Greenpeace congruent with the Christian faith that I adhere to and in fact I look at my being here as a vocation to that which I hold dear –the environment, and the web of relationships that it sustains.

Yesterday I was invited to give a short talk at an event in the seminary entitled The Green Life, organized by a care group called Friends of Life.

As a Christian coming from an environmental organization I count myself blessed to be a part of that ceremony because it is a wonderful thing that is experienced rarely inside Christian churches.

I shared a bit about the Greenpeace core value of ‘bearing witness’ which I defined as an obligation to act according to our conscience –and it is my hope that the event would sow the seeds for more Christians to ‘bear witness’ to the need for a greener and peaceful future where life in its fullness is shared and enjoyed by all creatures great and small.

Below is a transcript of my talk

The environment is among the most pressing concerns of this generation. In this bygone age of technology and consumerism, ministry to the natural world has taken a backseat in the teaching and preaching of many Christian churches. While most Christians appreciate the beauty of nature, many of us don’t realize the strong Biblical basis for creation care, in fact many ethical values, fundamental to the development of a peaceful and just society, are particularly relevant to the ecological question.

In the 1st chapter of Genesis, we find the constant refrain: “…and God saw that it was good.” The Earth was paradise, teaming with life, vegetation, and the wondrous landscape of skies, the land and the sea. Creation in God’s eyes was good and humanity’s call was to participate in the unfolding of God’s creative purpose for creation.

The Lord called upon the first humans to tend this paradise –to take care of it. Made in God’s image and likeness, Adam and Eve were to have exercised their dominion over the earth with wisdom and love. Instead they destroyed the existing harmony by deliberately going against the Creator’s plan, that is by choosing to sin. The result is not only mankind’s alienation from God and death but at the same time through sin all creation now became subject to futility, anticipating liberation together with all God’s children.

As Christians we believe that Jesus’ Death and Resurrection has accomplished the work of reconciling humanity to the Father, who “was pleased…through Christ to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:19-20). Creation once subjected to the bondage of sin and decay is being renewed in and through Christ.

I believe that these Biblical considerations help us understand better the relationship between human activity and creation. Even now as everyone, seems to be talking about climate change. It’s no longer just the concern of a few eco-warriors –it’s in the media, it is now a political issue and more and more individuals are becoming aware of their own carbon footprint.

Through climate change we become more aware that when we turn our back on the Creator and his plan, by living self-centred lives of individualism, accumulation and consumption we provoke a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order, such as that which most of us encountered in the extreme weather events that have occurred in these recent years.

One does not need to go far as most of us are still rebuilding from the ravages of typhoons, Ondoy and Pepeng[1]. Many have experienced water shortages because Metro Manila’s main water source the Angat dam’s water level has reached its critical levels as early as April[2] of this year and has even reached its all time low last July[3].

From the Greenpeace perspective I can remember an old conversation I had with the captain of our flagship the Rainbow Warrior about the organization’s history of high-profile direct actions against toxic dumping, nuclear weapons and commercial whaling can be looked at as a mere dressed rehearsal for our engagement on the issue of climate change.

I recognize that clearly, an adequate solution to environmental problems cannot be found merely in better management of natural resources, in environmental legislation, ‘greening’ corporations and even in lifestyle changes as important as these may be.

The present ecological problem that is manifest in the climate crisis calls for a holistic transformation to which the secular environmental movement fails to address.

This is a void that needs to be filled by the transformative power of the Gospel we proclaim.

The Quaker tradition that was instrumental in the formation of Greenpeace[4] instilled in us this core value called ‘bearing witness’ which is how Quakers proclaim the Gospel in deed that is to ‘become living testimonies’ for or against something that they themselves had experienced firsthand.

Bearing witness is defined as the obligation to take action according to our conscience: If something is wrong, we stop it. If we can’t stop it, we expose it. If we can, show alternatives, and offer solutions even better. Moreover, bearing witness to the beauty of nature is a call to a conviction towards what is at stake and what needs to be protected.

May the songs of awe and praise and the poetry read be active calls to action to bear witness to the need to tend to our Father’s world to whom we are called to lift up our voices and sing:  “Alleluia! Alleluia![5]”

Notes

[1] Baclagon, Chuck, “Christmas in the Midst of a Climate Crisis ” weblog entry. The Space In Between. 24 December 2009. Accessed 11 September 2010 [http://chuckbaclagon.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-in-midst-of-climate-crisis.html].


[2] Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Greenpeace Water Watch camp stays vigilant as Angat Dam breaches critical levels” Greenpeace Southeast Asia website 16 April 2010. Accessed 11 September 2010 [http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/greenpeace-water-watch-camp]


[3] De Vera, Ellalyn. ” Metro Manila nears water crisis as level in Angat Dam hits all-time low.” The Manila Bulletin 11 July 2010. Accessed 11 September 2010 [http://www.mb.com.ph/node/266356/mm-near]


[4] Weyler, Rex. “Eco-History” weblog entry. Deep Green January 2008. Accessed 11 September 2010 [http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/deep-green/deep-green-jan-2008/]


[5] Draper, William. All Creatures of Our God and King, which is actually a paraphrase of Saint Francis of Asisi’s Canticle of the Sun, the song is an affirmation of Francis’ personal theology.