Love Kindness. Do Justice. Change the World ... Right Now!
Love Kindness. Do Justice. Change the World ... Right Now!
Christians, other people of faith and concerned citizens continue to stand up to the special interests that are holding the nation hostage to actions that seriously threaten the common good. Here are some of the latest developments:
As the nation broils in triple-digit heat, a new grassroots effort has emerged to stop a development that could accelerate global warming even faster: the Tar Sands Project in Canada.
Signers of the invitation to join the protest Aug 20-Sept. 3 include major climate activists that many progressive Christians know and respect, including author-farmer Wendell Berry, climate scientist James Hansen, Land Institute president Wes Jackson, journalist Naomi Klein, and environmentalist Bill McKibben, along with allies from the North American indigenous peoples and Canadians. We quote from the alliance's invitation:
As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.
And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.
These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a certificate of ‘national interest’ to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.
To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta, disrupting ways of life in indigenous communities—First Nations communities in Canada, and tribes along the pipeline route in the U.S. have demanded the destruction cease. The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art’ technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.
How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per million. Even with the new pipeline they won’t be able to burn that much overnight—but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out. As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In other words, he added, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.” The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of the game. “Unless we get increased market access, like with Keystone XL, we’re going to be stuck,” said Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary, told a Canadian newspaper last week.
Given all that, you’d suspect that there’s no way the Obama administration would ever permit this pipeline. But in the last few months the administration has signed pieces of paper opening much of Alaska to oil drilling, and permitting coal-mining on federal land in Wyoming that will produce as much CO2 as 300 power plants operating at full bore.
And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she’s ‘inclined’ to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it’s because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. The US Chamber of Commerce—a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined—has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” which is not so surprising—they’ve also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can ‘adapt their physiology’ to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.
So we’re pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington. A wonderful coalition of environmental groups has built a strong campaign across the continent—from Cree and Dene indigenous leaders to Nebraska farmers, they’ve spoken out strongly against the destruction of their land. We need to join them, and to say even if our own homes won’t be crossed by this pipeline, our joint home—the earth—will be wrecked by the carbon that pours down it.
Make the effort to join the moral witness on behalf of creation next month in Washington. The life of the planet and all who live upon it depend on our efforts.
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Meanwhile, progressive religious groups in Texas are putting the heat on Gov. Rick Perry for his proposed Aug. 6 prayer rally that's being funded by the ultraconservative American Family Association.
From Burnt Orange Report, an online journal of Texas progressive politics:
If you've ever been in downtown Dallas on a Good Friday, you've probably seen people walking silently, some carrying signs bearing Bible verses, others carrying accompanying signs highlighting statistics on the plight of the poor, the sick and the hungry in Dallas and the state of Texas.
That's Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance, a group of theologians and laity, calling upon politicians claiming to be Christians to actually enact policies that improve the plight of "the least amongst us."
… DACPA has issued an open letter to Rick Perry, calling upon him to repent, a word which means "go a new way." Below are excerpts from the statement.
Dear Governor Rick Perry:
You have called for August 6 to be a day of gathering "in humility and repentance." The Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance joins this call for repentance, a word which means to "go a new way." We call for repentance when we consider the condition of our state, the mandate from God to love our neighbors, and the vision of the future that is the answer to our prayers. We embrace government as one way to follow God's will on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus called the NATIONS to judgment. The prophets he came to fulfill-Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah in particular-condemned the governments of their day, the kings, for not serving the poor and the oppressed....
Jesus says that the nations who care for the sick are "blessed," while those who do not he says are "accursed" (Matthew 25:31-45) Texas is first among all states in the percentage of citizens who are uninsured, and ranks number 41 in health services. Let us go a new way toward health care and health security and turn from the road that leads to the fate of the accursed...
...Jesus also considered nations accursed when they do not welcome the stranger, alien, outsider, immigrant. (Matthew 25:31-45) Immigrant children who have only known life in the United States have been denied the opportunity to have legal status here and instead they and their families are often targeted for hatred and abuse by those who wear the name "Christian." Let us walk a new path toward a blessed country that creates just laws that represent that we truly "love our neighbor."...
...The earth and all that is in it belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). We are called to be stewards of God's creation, not its destroyer. Texas is the biggest polluter in the country, leading the nation in carbon dioxide and cancer-causing emissions. Let us go a new way by protecting the creation with which we have been entrusted...
In addition, CNN's Religion blog reports that the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation is suing Perry to halt his involvement in the event.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - A national organization focused on ensuring the separation of church and state challenged … the involvement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an upcoming evangelical Christian prayer rally.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the Southern District Court of Texas in Houston to declare Perry's connection to [an Aug. 6] "Day of Prayer and Fasting" unconstitutional and stop any further participation on his part, the foundation said.
Perry asked that other governors make a similar proclamation and invite their constituents to join in the day, according to the announcement of the rally.
... The lawsuit claims that the event sends a message that nonbelievers are "political outsiders" and that Perry's actions violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from making any law that favors one religion over another.
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Finally, for those of you who, like TPC's editor, are suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal, consider the perspective of Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, an ordained Episcopal priest who teaches a course on Harry Potter and faith at Yale Divinity School (no foolin'!).
By Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, Special to CNN
… One of the questions I get asked most frequently about the class is what makes the Harry Potter series so spiritually rich. My sense is that, unlike some other famously theologically driven books, like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter is less interested in teaching doctrine than in asking questions of ultimate meaning:
How can a person—wizard or Muggle (Rowling’s term for non-wizards)—respond to evil?
Is it possible to maintain relationships with those beyond the grave, just like Harry sought to have a relationship with his deceased parents?
Is it worth believing in God or, for those in Harry’s world, love, without evidence of its transformative power?
… In other words, the reason the Harry Potter series resonates with so many is that Harry’s journey is our journey; what he seeks, we seek.