Tag: Ecological Justice


Its about cutting 10% of our carbon emissions by 2010. Let’s have this discussion. The website provides information for both iundividuals and organisations aiming to make the cut. I feel this is definitely an imperative for Moot, as we seek to live balanced, wholistic and just lives.

“10:10 is a mass movement that is signing up people and organisations from every corner of British life. From councils and hospitals to faith groups and scout troops, organisations across the country are deciding to get on board at the start of the journey to a low-carbon society.

So if you want to establish your organisation as a leader in tackling the most important and pressing issue of our times; stay one step ahead of oncoming legislation to limit emissions; save money on your energy bills; and respond to the moral challenge of climate change; then 10:10 is for you.”

POSTED 02.09.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on 10:10

Facing the Facts 1: Population Growth & The Need for the Church to be involved in population control

Whether we like it or not, humanity faces a huge crisis in the fact that our finite planet cannot support the numbers of people on the planet. This is a spiritual issue and important fact for Christians if we take the idea of ecological stewardship seriously. If we do not face the facts, then we will create a planet that simply will not cope. This has already started.

Adbusters Magazine asks an important question, in our market societies, ‘Are the self-organizing, principles of markets that have emerged in human cultures over the past 300 years in conflict with the self-organizing principles of ecosystems that have evolved over the past billion years?’

Further, why do some aspects of the Church have such issues with contraception? and family planning that attempts to ensure we control population numbers? I do not know why, but so many of my Christian friends have this ideal of having large families, with some sort of aspiration for little house on the prairie, isn’t this totally ecologically irresponsible? Why do so many Christians live in such denial of the facts of what is going on…. So What are the facts?

So given the extremely serious issues we face, will Christians and the Church own the responsibility of population control? The Church own its responsibility to population planning and encouraging families to seek sustainable levels of population, where sex and reproduction are not envisioned with values of abundance, but the reality of scarcity of the planets resources. So that we and our planet can find a sustainable future.

POSTED 01.08.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (6)

Certainty in Uncertainty

Not sure if people have seen this advert on the tube. It always hits me as having a deep spiritual meaning that I don’t like very much. You see a man who on first glance seems to be in a prayerful pose before a board of stockmarket figures reflected back onto itself. On closer inspection you see that he is not praying but holding onto some form of communication device. The advert pushes the importance of receiving the right information to be able to be in control.

The sad thing about this and other adverts, is that many are not facing up to the real reason this all went wrong, the over emphasis on markets and capitalism to mediate everything to do with our culture. In an earlier post I talked about the fact that we now have an unrestricted market society, and this is something some of us really think impoverishes our humanity and community. It seems that people are now turned back to information technology to help rebuild a sense of certainty in the fluidity of our complex market society.

This makes me sad. It was interesting yesterday also to hear on a Radio 4 programme, of an America Company that was focusing on the very same strategy it had before the crash in the States, because it believed it did not need to change, even though it had been bailed out by tax payers money. It seems many are addicted to a market economy and can not re-imagine another way of being. This is really why the church needs to be more engaged with seeking a better mixed economy, than the mess we have got ourselves in. I am hopeful that people will see that the real God is not a market, and our mutual welfare as a community is not dependent on our economic value to sell or buy things. Christianity has much to say on this matter, so we really need to challenge what seems to me to be, the idol of a market society.

POSTED 15.07.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Certainty in Uncertainty

New approach to global development

I don’t know if you keep an eye on it, but I have really been impressed by Ekklesia, the independent think tank and its role to be a challenge the church to face up to injustice and prejudice. I like the balance they have of affirming good developments, like the encyclical coming out of the Vatican today on an ethical and just approach to global development, and at the same time challenging the Church when it becomes fixated, institutionalised and unjust. So keep going Ekklesia. I know what you do winds some people up, but I do believe it is for the greater good, and ultimately seeks to have a high regard towards God, ourselves and others.

The Vatican’s new challenge to the global financial system and United Nations is a really good thing. See the Ekklesia report here

POSTED 08.07.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on New approach to global development

Where are we going? Do we really want a market society?

Well in the UK it is all a bit depressing isn’t it politically, socially and economically.  But take encouragement, I think there are some exciting things emerging.  Barak Obama’s address in Cairo is profoundly moving, so if you have not heard the whole thing, go the the BBC News online player and watch and listen.  It is good to hear some hopeful vision.  I keep asking myself – where is the voice of the church?  Why in this time of difficulty is the church silent when it should be heard more and more concerning the matters affecting the world that matter.  Many are fed up with a church obessed with sexual ethics about who is in and who is out, ignoring the ecological and economic tragedy facing us.  I was encouraged to hear the Bishop of London address the need for Fair Trade and the support of Job shops to support and give advice for those looking for work.  We need to hear more on this.

The trouble we are in, in my opinion, is largely because we allowed market economics to become a market society with very little critique. We the church never questioned the absorption of unfettered capitalism which guess what destabilised the whole world.  We always needed a mixed economy where the market was regulated and prevented from taking over.  But greed and liquid modernity destroyed the need for edges in the new liquidity that allowed greed to have no bounds.

But we the church have a part to play in this.  Did you ever hear sermons critiquing society as defined by the market?  Did you hear the challenge of justice and the needs of the poor?  Granted there were some voices, but most of us went along with it without a single question.  Hence my other earlier blog, in the way some churches – rather than being radical visible expressions of the invisible Kingdom of God, have become little more than businesses maintaining a commodity market in the Christian products.  Even things like Alpha Courses have become a brand and consumerable.

So I am not saying there is not a need to be entrepreneurial – monastics prove the need for it to be really engaged in the world, I am just concerned that the market is not what informs us of who we should be, this is the work of the gospels, of the story of God, the story of the Exodus out of oppression.  So may be we need to critique current values to say that we don’t want a society that is defined by being a market, we want a place where people’s humanity is greater than their deployability as an economic resource, so this starts with a religious or spiritual narrative, not one about money!!  If we don’t, then the extremists will continue to benefit from the dissatisfaction created by a relentless market society that dehumanises…. Where is the hope and the building of a tolerant, inclusive and just society, we Christians should be involved in this, as this is the true currency of the Kingdom of God.

POSTED 05.06.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)

Carbon fast for Lent anyone?

The Bishop of London has issued a challenge to consider a Carbon Fast for Lent regarding the need for Ecological Justice in a time of threatening climate change.  See here for more details.

POSTED 28.02.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (3)

Phenomenology, Theology, Liberation & New Forms of Church

Just before you think I have been smoking something rather illegal by pursuing such a grand title, I want to start by saying I have had a period of enforced isolation following an operation, so I have been reading and reflecting on a number of things. So I want to paint a picture that connects these big titles above, and No, I am now off the codeine pain relief, so I am now feeling more coherent.

Some in the whole Emerging & Fresh Expressions scene are quite anti-theologial, which has always troubled me, partly because it can then predispose people to make the same mistakes as some of those who have come before us in their thinking and praxis. It is always better to be informed, even if you fundamentally disagree… At the same time, I want to challenge some involved in the particularly academic theological institutions, who look down on phenomenology and its related discipline of Pastoral Theology. Some see these two areas as weak cousins to their more illustrious and more academic relatives. I think this is fundamentally false and elitist and plainly wrong if this has any centredness around the life and activity of Jesus Christ which challenged such power related perspectives in his time.

So here goes … Phenomenology is an important perspective and discipline that has arisen out of philosophical thinking and in the social sciences, that now in a post-modern context, helps us to reframe and understand things drawing on human experience. “Phenomenology” comes from the Greek words phainómenon, meaning “that which appears,” and lógos, meaning “study.” Experience-led thinking was clearly very important to Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church. I encountered much of this in the research I did in my book “Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church”.

Theology – is important to an understanding of God – “Theology” meaning the study of God. In the Christian spiritual tradition, Theology & Phenomenology are intrinsically linked. Theology arises out of experience, but importantly out of communities in praxis not just on bright-spark charismatic individuals who work things out for themselves. Praxis here – is the idea of right action – about the discipline of exploring questions arising out of experience that connect to the humanities to then dialogue between these various insights (note dialogue is inherently about talking in community) to then work out what right action may be in response to the question. So this is a discipline in living, of right living (orthopraxis), not just of right thinking (orthodoxy) – which I argue has been a curse in the church which does a lot of thinking but not much action when and where it matters!! But, there is also a danger that contemporary culture can easily become post-society, where no one ever seems to think about responsibility for others and everything is centred on individual rights. As Jonathan Clark has said in his book ‘the republic of heaven’:

If theology arises out of experience, is there any stopping point before we reach theologies that are constructed by each of us individually? If not, is there such a thing as the Church at all – what do we have in common? It’s a possible extreme case of what Catholics have always accused Protestants of – allowing the theology of private opinion to take precedence over the Church’s tradition.

He then goes on to say: Part of an answer to this criticism may rest in the concept of praxis … Liberation theologies therefore depend not on an individual experience but on that of a group, within the social and economic context in which it is placed. Theology happens, moreover, in the interaction of the community with its context: it’s not something restricted to books and lecture theatres. So when a group of oppressed people concretely refuse to accept their oppression, theology is happening. For those people, new truths about God are being enunciated as much through action as through their reflection [and thinking].

I think Jonathan Clark is spot on here. I want to argue that many emerging & fresh expressions of church are trying to seek forms of spiritual community with this phenomenological, communitarian, participation and liberationist focus, (where this liberationist focus is usually articulated in the form of economic, social and ecological justice) in the face of the force and perceived oppression of the global market, unrestrained forms of global capitalism, obscene forms of individualism, the return of a dominant class system and new forms of under classes, poverty and increased deprivation. This I think is particularly true at the moment in the global credit crunch, which was driven by capitalist greed. The language of liberation and justice is increasingly being used.

What worries me a little about some new post-church initiatives is that they are often very individualistic with a dominant monolithic ideology, which starts by saying everything that was before is wrong and now we have got it right, (I don’t believe any faith can be monolithic if it is centred on collective experience). Often, where there is a leader who is very charismatic, and a powerful arbiter. These initiatives have a lot of energy, but often have very little to do with community, praxis and liberation. The little books I have written, particularly the last, “the becoming of G-d” I hope is an articulation of what the Moot Community has been exploring for the last six years. I hope it is not about my thinking, more an articulation of the insights and thinking of a community founded on shared phenomenological activity and a theology arising out of experience of God. Contrary to the language coming from some, I don’t think we need ‘revival’ or a ‘continuation of the reformation’ or a new expression of church to ‘finish off the reformation that the church did not complete in modernity’. These somewhat hard and radical voices seek to build a contextual church, by seeking purity out of plurality of thought by the language of ‘opposition’ and ‘competition’. I think this thinking is bankrupt in our now post-Christendom context. We don’t need a continutation of reformed theology for postmodern times, we need to find an authentic expression of the Christian faith centred on liberation not competition.

So increasingly, the focus of new forms of church, (from my perspective), needs to be that they can be experienced as life giving, enabling, loving, caring and places of belonging and liberation. It is not about being ‘Cool’ or the next new ideology to consume, or about having the best technologically driven alternative worship. The world has had quite its fill of ‘Cool’ people and new ideologies that have not brought lasting change. We need forms of community that dream big dreams centred on the values of the Kingdom of God. I hope Moot grows into this type of profound places of humanity, where the Christian faith can be experienced as a liberating event that enables people to find their common humanity, in a world that is driven by power, competition and consumption. So liberation has to be a key focus to emerging & fresh expressions of church, if they are stand any chance of reflecting the values of the Kingdom of God Christ exposed through the ancient world, and which we are called to love and act on now.

So to conclude, rather than being anti-theological, I hope Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church increasingly seek to reframe theology to make it life giving, and that this will therefore need to draw on a Kingdom perspective, centred on liberation and experience, where we have a high view of seeking shared solutions and a communal phenomenology. Where we seek not to ‘win’ so that others ‘lose’ but as liberation theologies say, we seek to change the goal posts, to reframe things, to have no losers where all call share in the good things in life, where we have rights and responsibilities for all. If we hold this perspective, then our Society may look differently on the life and work of Christ, because after all, was this not what he was about?

POSTED 11.01.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (2)

Post-Baby-Boomer Hope

Lots of words have been said in the last 12 hours, but my hope is that Obama is going to be the first post-baby boomer leader of the western world. He is a Gen-Xr, so we hope that his world view will be very different from the binaries of the cold war and empire. It is truly great that a post-baby-boomer is at last going to be in power, so let’s hope it happens in other parts of the western world soon. We need politicians who come from the real world – not just Oxford and Cambridge…. I am hoping this will lead to progress in many of the worlds significant problems.

POSTED 05.11.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments (3)

Plastic (Not So) Fantastic

A friend of mine recently pointed me towards a blog on the BBC’s website written by a woman who decided to give up plastic for a month.

My initial thought was: Why? It seems a bit extreme. What’s so bad about plastic? OK, so the creation of plastics relies heavily on the oil industry, but provided we don’t over-rely on it, and recycle regularly, what’s the issue?

By the end of the month, I’d changed my mind. Here’s why:

1) Apparently there are about 9 “gyres” or currents circling the world’s oceans. In one of the blog entries, she highlights the cross-Pacific journey made by Dr Marcus Eriksen and film-maker Joel Paschal in a boat made from junk. The photo you see above is of the plastic “soup” that fills these gyres, and all the gyres are thought to be in a similar condition. These plastics are reckoned to have been through marine life about 9 times now, and are pretty much part of the food chain. I did see a web page with an example of a fish cut open, with 14 pieces of undigested plastic in its stomach, and a whole report on it. Unfortunately I can’t find the link.

2) The amount of things that are made from plastic now and don’t need to be are insane. Those facial scrubs that have tiny stones in them? Many of them have replaced the stones with plastic beads. Plastic is used to contain just about everything, where paper and card used to do just fine. Years ago, strawberries (for example) used to be a luxury, and came packed in card punnets. Now for two weeks every year, the country is awash with strawberries, all packed into plastic punnets. That’s just two examples, there are many others I could point to, but don’t have the space here.

3) Plastics leech into our food, especially from what’s known as BPA. I’m no chemist, but apparently under certain conditions, plastic will leech toxic chemicals into foods as it breaks down, especially fatty food (remember the scare about wrapping cheese in clingfilm a few years ago?) Plastic bottles of mineral water are designed for SINGLE USE only, so re-using them to carry water is not great. About the best thing, if you want to take water with you, is a stainless steel canteen favoured by campers.

I honestly don’t know how to deal with this one. A part of of me thinks you can’t avoid plastics altogether, although my current favourite plastic-less blogger, Fake Plastic Fish, seems to do just that pretty well. But at another level, I recognise that the current level of plastic usage is unsustainable, and something needs to be done urgently, as current re-cycling methods are clearly not enough to stop plastic getting into the food chain.

Thoughts, anyone?

POSTED 04.11.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments (5)

Tom Sine speaking at Moot

Just in case you missed Tom Sine’s challenging and topical address to the Moot Community tonight, check out the Moot podcast here, recorded in two sections.

Tom’s wisdom is a challenge as we contemplate Moot’s desire to set up an intentional community and activities around social justice, in our eventual home (we hope).

To listen to the podcast – click here
For details on the new book, click the book cover

This podcast is quite different to talks Tom is doing with other Emerging Church groups in the UK. He is speaking more indepth in Manchester with Sanctus 1, so if interested – click here

POSTED 28.09.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Tom Sine speaking at Moot