Where we find ourselves as a Church, how we got here, and where we need to go in this time of Climate Crisis.
There’s so much to say about this response to an email I sent to a denominational news website:
since your reply to my question about Climate Crisis coverage, it’s been 24 days, and I don’t think ONE article has appeared anywhere on [your main website] Seems that the News staff might need a dedicated Climate reporter, like many of the secular news agencies do (or for an even better example, the Guardian has become the premiere journalistic effort on the Climate Crisis. In early June, I attended a Conference in Claremont CA , Seizing An Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization, put on by the Center for Process Studies based in xxx School of Theology. Just wanted to renew my concerns about the level of attention this is being given, especially since [a Theological School ]is expressing such a level of urgency about the matter. It’s worth some serious conversation amongst the News staff.
The xxxx Church is a church first, and the news agency — all four of us on the news full time — are there to cover mainly the work of and controversies within the xxxChurch. Yes, climate change as a global issue, is very much part of our coverage. But it will never be the sole focus of any of our small number of reporters. I admire your passion but you have to understand that with a tiny staff and resources, we will never be as comprehensive on any topic as many would like.
I hid the specific names and identifying markers of who I am talking about here, because my point here is to identify a wide-ranging problem in the church today, that spans across denominations. To report on the indicators of the problem/crisis we face stirs up fierce debate, awkward silence, or deep discomfort. Churches shy away from covering the topic at all. This particular response says a lot about what is at work here, it seems.
[this] Church is a church first
Yeah, it is. And just what might be at play in a comment such as that? That somehow this topic is not considered a priority or related wholly to “church issues”? Just what kind of church might this be describing? It would seem to me that a dire global emergency, identified by an overwhelming consensus of the very best scientists in the world, who are seeing very disturbing trends heralding grave dangers to global health, infrastructures, and economies, would be sufficient motivation for churches to be deeply concerned about the direction of our consumerist, hubristic plunge toward ecological devastation.
the news agency — all four of us on the news full time — are there to cover mainly the work of and controversies within the [denomination].
Makes sense. But the “work of” begs the question: What should be our work (back to the first point). And , even more obvious to everyone, “controversies within”: This is a HUGE controversy. It draws trolls in as many numbers to website articles on Climate Change issues as does Gay marriage or healthcare (or any number of politically charged issues such as Police violence and #BlackLivesMatter). All of those issues, are , of course, of great ethical and social and theological significance. But none of them bear the weight of blocking out almost all coverage of ongoing, increasing, dire scientific warnings about what is happening to our planet’s capacity to withstand what we as a consumerist society are doing to it.
Yes, climate change as a global issue, is very much part of our coverage. But it will never be the sole focus of any of our small number of reporters.
No, Climate Change is NOT “Very Much” a part of the coverage. One article every 3-4 months is not “VERY MUCH” a part of the news coverage. And these past 3-4 months have INCLUDED the momentous and theologically significant and , for the church, GROUNDBREAKING theological response by a global church leadership (in this instance, the widest reaching , most authoritative figure of religious stature on the face of the earth, the Pope. And that was but 6 weeks ago, and only ONE response has been offered since then (and that was an article borrowed from an internal agency written by an officer of that agency. Not that this isn’t encouraging, but when it represents the sum-total of the featured response by a denomination’s news agency, something is certainly missing. A disturbing lack of urgency and sense of significance is indicated.
I had made the suggestion of a dedicated “Climate reporter” such as the ones like Joe Romm or several folks at The Guardian, which has become the model journalistic effort in covering the things which unmistakably lay the urgency right at our feet. And these are “secular” operators, but who , sadly for us as a church, are displaying a deeper level of responsibility for informing the public than denominational agencies are providing for their members, who are called to represent a different order, a Kingdom of God which models a new life that’s possible.
I must confess, that I have to say these things with a clear sense of humility in recognizing that the place to where I have come, that gives me this sense of urgency, is a place to which I have come only in the last 10-11 months. It was a realization on the order of a new conversion; a reformation of my theological outlook that now operates within the context of “an earth in peril” (a phrase and idea about theology articulated by Philip Clayton). Prior to this, I had scarcely noticed the gaping hole in coverage at a level of urgency appropriate to the reality. But this lays before me an unmistakable, unshakable sense of call upon my life and work. It is to offer up my communication skills and technology specialties to the task of enabling the church to be the church, and tell the story of where we find ourselves, and how we got here, and where we need to go.