Home » Environment & Creation Care
Category Archives: Environment & Creation Care
When people hear veganism, they think about animal rights activists or people who care for the environment. It is less known that skipping meat and dairy also is the single most effective thing one can do to fight global hunger.
I have discovered that few things are so controversial among Christians and met with such incomprehension (and ignorance) as veganism. “Do you eat only salad?” is a question I often get, or “you don’t eat wheat flour, right?” Not to mention all the extremely hilarious meat jokes (sarcasm intended). But I have discovered that most times people have preconceptions about what it means to be vegan and the reasons behind it.
When I tell people that I’m vegan, most assume that it is due to the animal ethics. And to be honest, it was probably how it started. Twelve years ago, I became a vegetarian because I loved animals, and felt like a hypocrite towards them when I ate meat. But over time I began to think about whether this really was a sufficient reason. As a Christian, I believed that humans have been appointed to manage creation and that we have a higher value than animals. If an animal’s death would be the prerequisite for human life, it would be a morally acceptable thing to do (as it turns out this is not the case today, as I will explain below). (more…)
All complex civilisations in human history have eventually collapsed. As the complexity of the Babylonian, Roman and Maya empires increased, their administration eventually became to costly and inflexible, leaving the whole system vulnerable to any famine, war or social uprising that would tear it totally apart. The inevitable collapse were seldom instantaneous, it could take decades or even centuries. What it always produced however was decreased complexity with more decentralised governance, more poverty, rural living and a smaller population.
I am fully convinced that if Jesus doesn’t return to end history soon, we will see modern civilisation collapsing. With modern civilisation I refer to the political and economic structure that is based in the “Western”, white part of the world but that influences all nations of the earth and use their resources. It is totally impossible for its complexity to remain on this level or even higher; sooner or later most of our societies will be thrown back to pre-industrial times, and millions will die.
This gloomy prediction of course contradict the myth of eternal Progress that has been a dominant paradigm in the West. Just like in the early days of the Roman empire, increased wealth, health, education and technology made people believe that the future will be eternally bright, everything will get better and more efficient.
This is very different from a Biblical worldview which predicts that the sinfulness of man will constantly follow and eventually consume us. The book of Revelation talks about how the pseudo-glorious city of Babylon, representing power, wealth and civilisation, will collapse: (more…)
Originally posted at Jesus Army’s Forward Blog.
The Arctic is alarmingly warm this year, in fact, 20 degrees hotter than usual. What scientists have been warning us against for decades is becoming reality. If nothing is done, we might see an enormous climate catastrophe that would kill and displace hundreds of millions.
The vast majority of scientists have also been telling us for years that we do far too little to stop climate change. Even if the relatively ambitious Paris Climate Accord is implemented by all countries, it will not be enough. And the outcome of the American election puts into question whether the Accord even will be implemented.
The main root cause of these problems is an industrially driven economic growth that is not restricted to areas that seem necessary and beneficial like better healthcare and education. The astonishingly high consumption level that has driven climate change for decades deals a lot with fashion, technology, entertainment and luxury products that we, if we’re honest with ourselves, simply don’t need. (more…)
Trump has won the election, which is nothing less than a disaster for the world. He doesn’t care about climate change and his policies will most likely kill millions of people around the world due to climate inaction. He is anti-immigration and wants to block out people fleeing from poverty and war, which might very well kill many of them too. And his willingness to engage in nuclear war is unprecedented, if his irrational rage makes him go crazy on Twitter, what will he do when he has nuclear launch codes at his disposal?
It’s not a mystery why he’s popular though. The American working class and rural population know that they have been screwed by the urban elite – poor Americans have almost seen nothing of the economic growth of the last decades. Of course, somebody who has benefited from that growth in a very unethical fashion is Trump himself.But people tend to see him as a successful businessman (which he’s not) who can save the American economy (which he won’t) by protectionism and putting America first, making it “great again”.
The fact that his policies are tremendously bad for the rest of the world don’t matter too much to them because it’s America that’s going to be great, not necessarily Mozambique or India. They could say things like climate change being a hoax (“invented by the Chinese” as Trump has claimed) or that Syrian refugees are terrorists. What this shows is not just that they haven’t taken the time to listen to those in the majority world who are already suffering from climate change or those fleeing from war, but also a lack of empathy to these people. (more…)
I often hear that the Biblical views on the sinfulness of wealth, the need for simplicity and the universal calling to economic equality are radical ideas. But they’re actually extremely realistic, in contrast to the mammonistic and neoclassical ideas of the necessity of wealth, growth and inequality. Not only because the Biblical ideas, if put in practice, fights poverty much more effectively, but also because they’re the only ones that can reduce the devastating impacts of the upcoming climate change catastrophe.
The other day I listened to a very interesting lecture by professor Kevin Anderson from Manchester University. He talked about the really dangerous form of climate change denial, which isn’t the goofy ideas that the planet isn’t warming or that its warming but we’re not the primary cause and so on. Those views are rejected by the vast majority of scientists and most ordinary people don’t believe in them either. No, the real problem is when scientists adjust or deny their results in order to communicate that we can mitigate and adapt to climate change without too much reduction in economic growth and without adjusting our economic system. He writes on his website:
In several important respects the modelling community is self-censoring its research to conform to the dominant political and economic paradigm. Moreover, there is a widespread reluctance of many within the climate change community to speak out against unsupported assertions that an evolution of ‘business as usual’ is compatible with the IPCC’s 2°C carbon budgets. With specific reference to energy, this analysis concludes that even a slim chance of “keeping below” a 2°C rise, now demands a revolution in how we both consume and produce energy. Such a rapid and deep transition will have profound implications for the framing of contemporary society and is far removed from the rhetoric of green growth that increasingly dominates the climate change agenda.
Last summer me and the coolest Christian in Sweden, David Larsson, were sitting in God’s nature pondering about what His creativity tells us about our creativity:
As we are created in the image of God, we are naturally creative. But unlike God we are sinful, and so oftentimes human creations are destructive and dirty. Aesthetically they are also often very different from what God creates: He likes uniqueness, irregularity and complexity whereas human creations like cars or lamps or cities are copied, predictable and simple.
We can learn a lot from how God creates stuff, it’s sustainable and life-promoting and per definition very natural. Instead of building new towers of Babel we could use more gardens of Eden where we cooperate with God in creating constructive, natural and healthy things that benefit ourselves as well as the rest of creation. Let us be liberated from industrialism and be free creative agents in God’s beautiful world.
Prepare to be uncomfortable.
I wrote three years ago about how absurd it is that Christians often are expected to “dress up” as they attend church meetings, wearing clothing that’s more expensive and “proper” than what they normally wear. The reason this is absurd is that the Bible never commands it – on the contrary, it prohibits Christians to wear expensive clothes at all times, not just on church meetings. I’ve made a video when I discuss this:
The New Testament particularly addresses Christian women, telling them to not wear jewelry or expensive clothing:
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” (1 Tim 2:9-10)
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.” (1 Peter 3:3)
I had the privilege of joining the MennoNerds Panel talk on simplicity and sustainiability last Tuesday. I had proposed the topic since fighting personal wealth and promoting a simple lifestyle are issues that God really has put on my heart. Participating were MennoNerds Hillary Watson, Paul Walker and myself, with Mark Groleau as moderator. You can listen to it in the MennoNerds podcast as well as in the YouTube clips down below:
During the first hour, we talked about theological and theoretical perspectives, such as:
- How do we define simplicity?
- What are the Biblical arguments for the need of simplicity?
- What are the Biblical arguments for the need of environmental sustainability and creation care?
- Should Christianity be seen as an anthropocentric religion, i.e. how do we deal with ideas like having dominion over the Earth?
It should be noted that we were a bit divided on anthropocentrism, whereas some questioned this I for example argued that it’s not just Biblical but morally necessary. (more…)
Here’s a video where I explain why I’m a vegetarian and why all Western Christians should be vegetarians:
Imagine if all fish in the world became extremely poisonous. Imagine that you would die from eating just a tiny piece of fish meat. Would you still eat fish and give fish to your children, pointing to the fact that Jesus and the disciples ate fish in John 21? Perhaps you would refer to Mk 16:18 and say that no poison can harm you, but to use that as a proof text for consciously putting your life in danger every other day sounds a lot like testing God as Jesus described it in Mt 4. One is then basically a snake handler.
So if we’re being honest, we would avoid fish even though Jesus ate it, because the current situation has made that ingredient more dangerous compared to His time. In a similar fashion, most of us don’t eat locusts like John the Baptist did, not because it’s dangerous but simply because it’s not part of our culture.
Now, what if I told you that meat is indeed very dangerous today, not just for you but for millions of poor people? I’ve written about this before: meat is one of the most environmentally hazardous ingredients in the world. The meat and dairy industry produces 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and processed meat like bacon causes cancer. (more…)
As the extremely important COP 21 climate summit in Paris starts tomorrow, activists have taken it to the streets across the globe. I would had been marching in Paris today, had not the awful terrorist attacks happened, which has resulted in that protests are not allowed in the French capital for at least some weeks. Instead, I had praised God and retweeted reports from Sweden, Australia, Bangladesh, US, Japan, Nepal, Senegal, Switzerland and the UK:
The last image is especially powerful: it’s from Paris, where activists have laid out shows to signify the march that never took place there. Let us pray for the upcoming negotiations and that God’s Spirit will promote simplicity and equality.
In two weeks time I was supposed to go to Paris together with other climate activists. We’re awaiting instructions on whether the trip will be possible, but right now I’m mourning and praying for the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks in the French capital yesterday. In this video I share some thoughts on how torespond to such attrocities, and why attention to Paris is extremely important also when it comes to decisions on climate change, wince these can potentially save millions of lives.
There is also a great injustice in that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Lebanon or Iraq are rarely called “attacks on humanity” or spawn Facebook campaigns. The media values white life more than other people’s lives, that’s a fact. And it is wrong and sinful. 200 000 people have been killed in Syria, that’s one Paris attack every day for the last four years.
Let us pray to God for peace and justice, and also that we may be uncorrupted by the flawed logic of this world. Let us pursue holiness and righteousness, and strive for simplicity and equality as Jesus modelled for us. Let us love our enemies, pray for the repentance of ISIS and let us send missionaries to them! Let us receive the refugees that flee from them and present them the Gospel of life. Let us love our way out of the darkness in the power of the Holy Spirit.
For many years my primary motivation for engaging in creation care and climate activism has been the fact that environmental destruction in general kills millions of people already and that climate change in particular will most likely kill off hundreds of millions of people in the near future. Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.
Of course, not all scientists are saying that we will become extinct because of this. While it is universally acknowledged that many other species will be terminated just as we have already killed off half of the world’s animals since 1970, and that humans are already dying because of climate change, whether we will commit communal suicide through our carbon emissions is not as clear. One of the main factors for this is that we’re not even sure how we will respond to the climate crisis, will there truly be an ambitious treaty in Paris that can turn the ships around, or will we just do business as usual until it is too late?
One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas. These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus. (more…)
It’s funny, and a bit tragic, how some extremely radical words of Jesus which should make all rich people very uncomfortable, can be misinterpreted into some cosy, fluffy inspiration that rich people can quote on their living room wall and feel warm inside about. I’m specifically thinking on Jesus’ words about the birds and the lilies:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
Notice the word “therefore” in the beginning of the passage. This is obviously a word that links it to what is immediately said before it, which in this case is:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
I often debate with fellow Christians who, contrary to me, oppose migration from poor countries to rich countries, aid from rich countries to poor countries or that rich countries should take greater responsibility for the environment than poor countries by living simpler. When I argue for why I think these ideas are good, I often point to facts and statistics that for example show that poor countries receive 80 % of all refugees today, or that aid donations are less than 0.3 % of rich countries’ GDP, or that environmental pollution kill more people today than malaria and HIV. Quite often I even have to start with explaining that rich countries are rich; most xenophobic people here in Sweden think that Sweden isn’t a rich country, which of course is the opposite of what the Global Wealth Report recently stated.
However, while I believe these facts are important for the discussion, they are seldom sufficient for my adversaries to change their mind. I find over and over again that even if we can agree upon that the world is unequal and unfair, they don’t have a problem with that while I certainly do. We have different world visions, and they often tell me that I shouldn’t claim that my world vision is more Christian then theirs.
But it is.
Jesus’ ethical teaching is clear and straightforward. Do to others what you would have them do to you (Mt 7:12). That’s a universal command, meaning it applies to all human beings. We should love everyone, even our enemies, and do good to them just as the Father loves and does good to all human beings (Mt 5:43-48). (more…)
Building stuff is very Biblical: Jesus our Lord and Saviour worked as a carpenter, Paul was a tent-maker and the whole people of Israel were commissioned to build cities and villages across Canaan after they had colonized it in a not very pacifist way (I’m really looking forward to Greg Boyd’s book on how to deal with Old Testament violence that’s coming out soon). God realizes that shelter is important, He does not want us to be homeless.
1 Tim 6:8 is often translated as “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that”, and even though Paul’s point clearly is that we should live simply and reject wealth, he isn’t saying that we should be content with homelessness. The word used for “clothing” is in Greek skepasmata, which literally means “coverings”, which can both refer to clothes and shelter. Similarly, the word translated as “food” literally means sustenance.
Historically, the church has indeed built a lot of stuff, but have we really built the right things? As you may know I’m very critical to church buildings, for various reasons that I give in the video above. In Europe where I live, we have hundreds of thousands of church buildings, most of which stand empty at night. We also have four million homeless people, and millions of refugees are expected to seek refuge in our rich subcontinent during the coming years. (more…)