Faith, Law, and Environmental Justice

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April 22, 2016

 

It happens every April 22nd.

 

People all over the world plaster their social media with stunning pictures of ancient sea turtles, budding flowers, or placid seascapes. We pause to appreciate creation in all its glory. We pledge to use less, recycle more. We are inspired.

 

It’s #EarthDay2016 after all.

 

But as I surf the Internet and enjoy these gorgeous posts, I can’t help but wonder.

 

Have we forgotten that Earth Day is more than a hashta...

April 1, 2016

 

Great fiction has sometimes changed the way the world thinks. Readers may have identified so closely with a character’s plight that inaction at the end of the story was not an option. Or, an author’s vivid portrayal of filthy housing conditions, chain gangs, or slavery sparked a movement that fostered social change. Books like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle come to mind. (Sinclair’s novel about...

March 1, 2016

When does a “wrong thing” become a “WRONG THING” such that it grabs our attention and demands action?

 

Maybe it’s when it gathers so much momentum that willful ignorance is no longer an option.

 

One such situation is unfolding in Western New York. In the North Tonawanda-Wheatfield area, just outside of Niagara Falls, there’s a twenty-five acre landfill full of toxic 1960s-era chemical waste. Some of the contaminants include heavy metals, p...

February 9, 2016

I’m used to the odd looks.

 

Person talking to me: “You’re an environmentalist ... and a Christian?”

Me:                        “Yep.”

 

Cue the [raised eyebrows] [barely concealed smirks] [twisted theological doctrines].

 

The reactions come from people of all stripes. People outside the faith are understandably perplexed. “Seriously,...

January 19, 2016

 

 

The emerging toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is about more than water. It's about moving swiftly to help those who’ve been affected by this travesty. It's about righting some terrible wrongs. It’s about accountability. Transparency.

 

In short, it’s about morality.

 

Here’s the basic facts: The city of Flint, Michigan, was in serious financial trouble. The state took over management of the city’s budget. In an attempt to save money,...

January 3, 2016

 

Microbeads are tiny plastic balls that are used in personal care products. They’re the muscle behind facial scrubs. They give toothpaste its shine. A single cosmetic product can contain up to 300,000 beads, each no larger than a grain of salt. Given their small size and widespread use, microbeads seem harmless enough.

 

But they’re not.

 

Microbeads are an environmental hazard that will have far-reaching consequences for the world’s water...

December 8, 2015

 

Political agendas are getting greener. But is there a hidden downside?

 

More than 30,000 diplomats and delegates from all over the world have gathered in Paris to hash out an agreement that will commit countries to reduce their respective greenhouse gas emissions. The summit is historic. Monumental. And will no doubt ignite an explosion of inventions, start-ups, and government-funded green initiatives. In its wake, we’ll see new ideas an...

October 13, 2015

 

This week at a conference I met three women sitting next to each other. The woman closest to me was Muslim. Next to her sat a Jewish woman. And the woman on the end? You guessed it: Christian.

 

Interesting coincidence, I thought.   

 

Then I learned that they are part of an intentional community. They live together. Eat together. Side by side, they study, garden, clean, cry, exercise, and debate. Muslim, Jew and Christian.

 

In fact, lo...

September 26, 2015

 

There’s a new concept gaining steam on the international scene.

 

It’s called "environmental peacebuilding” or “environmental peacemaking” (and sometimes “environmental mediation”). It’s based on the principle that our common dependence on the natural world—clean water, fresh air, usable timber, or accessible oil, metals and minerals—can provide a pathway to peace for parties in conflict. 

 

Put another way, it’s the idea that cooperation...

September 1, 2015

 

YOUR Glory, Lord, is evident everywhere in Creation—from the graceful arches of the willow tree, to the deep, abiding peace that comes with the crash of ocean waves. You are the creative force behind the spider’s web, the artist’s eye, the mountain’s craggy silhouette.

 

Thank you for the cicadas that provide the backdrop to summer nights. For the whitewash covering of snow. Thank you for crisp air tinged with the smell of decaying leaves...

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