Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dude... where's my stuff?

Sure. You might find some points with which you disagree when you watch this (it takes 20 minutes to watch). But I hope you'll watch it with an open mind and consider the possibility that, in fact, the way we're living is unsustainable, and that as those charged to care for the earth, we who follow Christ should be at the forefront of both generous care for those most effected and marginalized by the the global consumer economy, and at the forefront of addressing the systemic changes that are needed to care for both the earth and one another.

That Bush has set a deadline of 2025 for 'halting the increase' of carbon emissions; that he's offered no specific, mandated way of doing so, and that he's making the entire goal voluntary, are revelatory of our president's failure to adequately address the realities of just how broken the system is. Most newspapers, conservative or liberal, have decried the proposal as lacking.

Watch the film. Let me know what you think. If twenty of you locals leave comments indicating a desire to view this as a community, I'll buy the DVD and we can watch it together. Maybe our wilderness ministry can help me host it. Maybe we can start addressing some of these things not only as individual families, but as churches.


At 22/4/08 16:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the bit in this video about consumption. And I think it's a tragedy that this consumerism hasn't just contaminated our shopping but it's also permeated our belief systems in regard to God and Church - We've not only become physical consumers, we're also spiritual consumers and idea consumers. Think about how some people feel that we MUST "get" something out of a church service and if we don't "get" anything or feel something we should move on to some other church.

I heard a sermon on this once where the speaker used "worship songs" as an example. It seems like we've always gotta get new songs or do old songs in a new way. And we can't sing something that's 5 years old because we've used up that song- it's no good anymore and we need to throw it away and get something new and different because a new song is what will move people into communion with God and if we play/sing something old it will just bore people into another church...

The cycle HAS to stop.

OK, back to the video. I think it gives us a lot to think about. The only critique I have is, being somewhat cynical, I wonder where the facts and statistics come from. They may or may not be true and I have no way of knowing because there were so many thrown out at such a fast speed without reference that I have no idea how accurate they are...

But really, even if the statistics are off, the main idea that we should be focused on sustainable resources is true and good. I really liked it and it's one more thing that's challenging me to think before buying... and throwing out.

At 23/4/08 10:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until she started talking about the "golden arrow" I felt a lot like 'natekey' in that numbers are always susceptible to bias. But after the 'golden arrow', she had me.
By the way, nate, that idea about worship songs was great! As a worship leader, I use a mix of current and trad. Also, it is definitely relevant in that our mindset and paradigm needs to change in how we view God's intention for us to become eternally minded rather than temporally minded toward His creation.
It is easy to criticise Bush, the government, big business, the media, etc., but they are all basically pandering to our desires. God ordained humankind to be responsible for the earth. Most humans live in such a linear paradigm, especially christians, that asking for a more finite way of thinking is like asking people in the 50's to become communist.
I suggest that the church be the leader in this and look at the 10 actions that the end of the film suggested, and DO them.
But I fear that the only thing that will make humankind change our ways is when our earth starts dying and future generations have to pay for our irresponsibility.
I also suggest that we pray God will intervene in such a way as to force humankind to change their ways before it is too late.

At 23/4/08 13:13, Anonymous Kristi said...

Thanks for posting, Richard. I've seen parts of this video before and despite any questions of where the stats are coming from I found it to be a helpful reality check.

I actually know of a few different churches that are taking our call to steward the earth quite seriously by educating the members on ways to cut consumption and waste. I think it would be great for Bethany to have a class on this, in addition to increasing our teaching about this matter.

At 23/4/08 18:33, Anonymous Zach Rupp said...

I'd love to watch this with a group... Count me in.

At 23/4/08 19:41, Blogger Roy said...

Well this made me want to crawl into bed and never come back out. I'm just a lower class, single guy who takes the bus as often as I can and try to use as little as I have to. But how can I really make a difference?

At 24/4/08 05:38, Anonymous jessi said...

I'm not local but I'll chime in. I've had this up on my blog too - it's really challenging and convicting. Spread the word to create change!

At 24/4/08 22:46, Blogger Lara said...

Howdy, just spent a few minutes watching the video and really enjoyed the content and feel that many people I know with children would be interested in this message however may not have the 20 minutes to watch...perhaps the DVD purchase might be good to share as a MOPS topic...certainly would help me to talk to other moms that do the majority of the shopping for our households how to put this into effect...perhaps Pastor Richard you won't need 20 locals comments to order?! By Grace, LR

At 26/4/08 21:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone should watch this. While the cycle we are in is pretty depressing and I'm not all that sure how much good I can really do, it did make me think. Hopefully next time I go shopping I will start thinking twice before buying. Thanks for sharing this and thanks, as always, for continuing to make me think!

At 28/4/08 08:17, Anonymous julie said...

Saw the earlier comments regarding the statistics, and thought I would post this link (it's a fact sheet on the site).

What a great video. So articulate and very convicting. Love Lara's idea about seeing it @ MOPS, especially since moms are often the gatekeepers for much of what comes into the house.

At 28/4/08 09:54, Anonymous Joshensley said...

I am very thankful to have watched this video and for Richard posting it on his blog.
It goes along with a lot that has been going on for me recently. I pulled out a book I bought years ago but never read, called 'Rich Christians in an age of Hunger' and was seriously grieved and challenged. Considering the book was written in the 70s and the problem has not improved, it is heartbreaking. I've also read the recent book by Brian McLaren called 'Everything must Change'. It discusses the exact topic at hand and how this World's Prosperity, Security, and Equity systems function as a 'suicide machine' which is absolutely unsustainable. He also explains how Christ confronts each system and provides the path to freedom from the suicide machine.

I definitely want Bethany to pursue the issues raised in the story of stuff. I don't know how to change things and know that I need help. I know that the change starts with me, but that we also need community to sustain and challenge us.
I feel the teachings of the kingdom of God being at hand are essential. I'm sure this means we should not fill the earth with garbage, and we should not justify our comfortable lives while billions are poor and oppressed.

At 28/4/08 10:06, Anonymous Pam said...

Add my comment to the "yes, I'd like to watch it with a group" tally.

I appreciate the concern that it may be a bit simplistic in its approach, but that's where community conversation and dialogue comes into the mix. We can broaden the discussion.

In the late 70's, I was privileged to discuss many of these same issues with my small group. "Rich Christians in an age of Hunger" got us started on our conversations. Our lives look different because of the discussions that came out of that time.

If we view the DVD together, I'd suggest that an additional key component for the discussions be the spiritual impact that consumerism has on our lives. You've already said many good things from the pulpit on that topic, Richard. For me, that's where we've got to start because that's what allows us as the Body of Christ to speak to the challenge with God's heart at the core. Approaching it other ways will take us to self-righteousness and/or paralyzing guilt. Neither is what the world needs.

Bring it on brother!

At 28/4/08 16:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for digging around to find:

I like facts and figures, I just also like to know where they come from! =)

At 28/4/08 18:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i couldn't watch this video in one sitting. the bit about consumption made me angry, disgusted, and disturbed. i had to come back after i controlled my emotions. after finishing the video i was left with a 'now what?' feeling. while the 10 recommendations helped (some i already do, like use energy conserving light bulbs and walking to work) but some i feel like as a single person how is my voice going to be appreciated? i think talking about this video and ways to change will be the biggest incentive to finding ways to help the environment. we as a nation tend to follow the crowd, and maybe a small ripple in seattle can become a wave across the nation.
thanks richard for sharing this video.

At 3/5/08 22:44, Anonymous Tom Lane said...

While generally sympathetic to the message of the video, I chafed at the generalizations and buzz words. Like Pam, I remember both the self-righteousness and the guilt engendered by the push for 'simple living' a few decades ago. It was as ugly then as it is now, and I'm sorry to have to acknowledge my own past and present contributions.

I'd really like to see a healthier, more positive framework - and the vocabulary to go with it - for thinking and talking about these issues without shaming each other or getting caught in similar traps. I know the biblical mandates are there, but I could use some help in seeing them more clearly. I also want my actions to be an expression of my faith, not just another attempt to justify myself by 'doing the right thing.' There's plenty of lipstick on that pig already!

We also need help in believing that the actions of one person can and do make a difference. It's understandable and easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues [under the sun], so hanging onto hope and confidence that my little choices count is a matter of survival.

At 5/5/08 18:22, Anonymous Kristi said...

Thank you for your comments, Tom. I recognize now that it might have been easier for me to take the video with a grain of salt than it was for other folks. It was a good reminder that I can and should be doing more to reduce the waste I produce and the amount I consume.

In my life I have been prone to phases of over-zealousness where I swing way to one side of something, then come back like a pendulum to swing all the way the other direction, so I always appreciate a voice of reason and balance! :)

And I'm a big proponent of the idea that each of us really can make a difference; that we should not let the overwhelming nature of the problem paralyze us and keep us from acting.

At 21/5/08 09:30, Blogger Kelsie said...

99% of our purchases are garbage in 6 months!? Could that be true? Obviously perishibles like food, and I guess fossil fuels (I'm lucky to make it two weeks without filling my tank). But what else? Looking in my garbage and recyling: newspaper, a magazine, envelope, coffee grounds, a plastic container once used for strawberries.

I'm torn; I felt that much of the video was somewhat sensational, but even if 80% of our purchases are that disposable, I need to think more about sustainability.


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