Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thought for the Day: G8, Christianity and Climate Change.

BBC Radio 4, 8th July 2009

In the place where the earth quaked to devastating effect the leaders of the world's richest nations will meet today for the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. Global recession and climate change will be on the agenda. And tonight here in London the Prince of Wales will give the Dimbleby Lecture. He too will be addressing global problems.

Over in Italy at the G8 Summit President Obama will be leading the session on Copenhagen. Unless America comes to the table with serious proposals the deal will not be worth the laptop it's printed from.

But it's what's happening in the Republican party in America that's so vital. The President's People know that whatever deal they strike in Copenhagen has got to get through the Senate - and it's there they need Republican votes to get a majority.

So cut to Washington, a week ago today and more specifically to the Washington Post and an article about the President's Climate Bill.It was a story about how 8 Republicans in the House of Representatives had voted for the President's proposals on climate change.

But that's not why the story's so big. The author of the article which ends by commending their action as "admirable" was none other than Mike Gerson, once President Bush's Chief Speech Writer.

His conversion to the realities of climate change and the need to save the rainforests show a major shift and rift in the Republican Party. Crucial, if President Obama is to get Copenhagen through Congress.

Mike Gerson is known not just as one of the conservative intellectuals but as a person of deep religious conviction.

For him as for all Christians the earth is sacred, for according to the New Testament, it has come into being 'through and for Christ'.

To see the planet desecrated is to behold the undoing of God's creation, which is why it's not just a political but a moral and theological issue.

There's a famous Liverpool poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. In a poem called "Binsey Poplars" he laments the wanton felling of trees. It's almost an ode to the destruction of our forests and our changing climate.

"O if we but knew what we do when we delve or hew - Hack and rack the growing green!"

Well, over a hundered years later we do now know! And it would be good for the earth if the G8 leaders in L'Aquila knew it too!

The Rt Rev. James Jones