Chartres, who chairs the bishops’ panel on the environment, said: “There is now an overriding imperative to walk more lightly upon the earth and we need to make our lifestyle decisions in that light.Well I'm sure Paula is cheering :-), and yes, of course, one has to understand stewardship of the environment as an integral part of the Christian life. But. Come on, really! Wink and nod when it comes to fornication, divorce, abortion. But, hey, drive an SUV? On your way to hell bubba! Does anyone take the Church of England seriously anymore?
“Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin. Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.”
Chartres, the third most senior bishop in the Church of England, has declared his views as it prepares to publish Treasures on Earth, a booklet on environmental matters to be sent to every diocese for distribution.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “We stand before God’s judgment on these matters. In life we have to make moral choices over our sex life and over our domestic and financial affairs. We make choices of moral significance and our relation to the environment is no exception.”
The booklet will say that scientific research supporting predictions that the earth faces serious climate change is “overwhelming”. It will also detail practical ways for Christians to cut their carbon emissions, at church and at home, including trying to walk or cycle to communion.
The church’s advisers on the environment say that offsetting your carbon dioxide emissions against “green” actions such as planting trees is a first step towards becoming sustainable but is not a long-term answer.
The Times also had a column that supports the Bishop (I really can't say if it's being satirical or not. I hope it was ... ):
But at least his words were stronger than the milk-and-water follow-up from the Church of Scotland, which bleated that “our souls are not in any imminent danger from large cars or flying”. Why ever not? I should have thought that if God did indeed create the heavens, the earth and all that is therein, he would be mightily displeased to see us collectively disabling it. The Kirk seems to have forgotten its own Westminster Confession of 1646, which teaches that “every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the law of God and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal”.And he seems to have a quirky sense of guilt
Guilt may be national as well as personal. It can end slavery, make reparation for the crimes of a previous regime or motivate the world’s aid agencies in their endless attempt to eradicate world poverty. It contributed to the decision of Nato countries to intervene in Kosovo, and shamed the Security Council that failed to do the same in Rwanda. Guilt may eventually force Condoleezza Rice to lean on Israel to stop the bombing of Lebanon, and it just might persuade the world’s governments to restrict rather than encourage air travel.That's it. The Liberal cause celebres must now be motivated by guilt -- which is, however, evil and psycologically harmful when Christians try to suggest that it's not in one's best interest to go around boinking everything in sight ... The Telegraph probably has a more palatable (to me!) take on things:
So air travel is a sin. It is up there with stealing, adultery, murder and coveting thy neighbour's oxen, according to the Bishop of London. Richard Chartres wants vicars to stop their congregations making "selfish choices such as flying on holiday". Boarding a plane is worse than drugs, alcohol or smoking, all mere vices, the bishop appears to be saying: flying is a full-blown sin.[snip]
This surely can't be the same bishop who accepted a freebie luxury cruise - including flights - over Easter, when he was supposed to be ministering to his flock. If he suggests flying is a sin, his hypocrisy is worse. The Bishop of London and his fellow churchmen think nothing of popping on a plane to Africa or America to bore on about the rights and wrongs of homosexuality in the Church of England. Yet he is saying to the poor, cooped-up workers that they can't have their two weeks away in the sun. Parents are being selfish for saving up to take their children to Spain, Italy or Greece. They must stay at home and never see the world, unless they are prepared to travel by mule or bicycle, or have the time to take a slow boat to China.I was reminded of this piece that appeared on Zenit last year ... a review of the book "Decadence: The Passing of Personal Virtue and its Replacement by Political and Psychological Slogans."
A first section contains essays on the "old" virtues, such as prudence, love and courage. The second deals with the "new" virtues, centered on the environment, caring, therapy and being critical.Now I'm not an expert on environmental anything. And yes, I'm sure things such as carbon footprints have value, and, as I said above, one does have to be conscious of being stewards of creation. And yes, Christian ascesis is a hugely countercultural witness. But seriously, is the Bishop suggesting that the best way to deal with the problem is to return to the 19th century? Or to the 12th? Is that at all serious advice to his flock? Spare me the faddish jargon and give me those time tested old virtues, the real ones, the ones with heft and bite. Prudence. Temperance. Fortitude. Justice. And lets not forget the theological ones ... Faith, Hope and Love. Command me to love God above all and one's neighbor as oneself. I'll find a way to manage my carbon footprint therein.
The book does not pretend to give a complete analysis of any of the virtues, and the authors of the chapters differ in their approach to the subject matter. Readers could also disagree about some of the interpretations of the virtues. Overall, however, the book provides a stimulating reflection on the dangers of discarding the tried-and-true virtues for passing fads.
In the introduction, Anderson explains that the old virtues were genuine ones, in that they demanded of people specific types of behavior. The new ones, in contrast, often fall into the category of slogans or rhetorical appeals. Or, if in some cases they do contain elements of true virtue, they tend to elevate a trivial aspect into the main virtue.
And in a couple of weeks, I'll be getting on that Boeing 777 at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport with a light spring in my step. I love flying. I'll wave at you when we pass over the British Isles, Bishop!
[:: UPDATE :: Found a page on the Diocese of London website where the Bishop tries to clarify things. Not very successfully, I'm afraid. Here's the website of the CofE campaign: Shrinking the Footprint. (Surely they used an environmentally friendly Webdesign for that slick site. Whatever that might mean.) Oh yah, I checked out my carbon footprint, using parameters from when I had an apartment in Columbia. The results? My footprint is 26 (acres?) ... if all in the world lived like this we would need 5.9 planets. Well, better start looking -- I had an apartment, drove a car, shopped at Wal-Mart, and lived your average middle-class American life. If that. (I worked for Holy Mother Church ... not the way to get wealthy and own my own McMansion! :)) Maybe flew a little more than average. I didn't have any carbon offspring with their own footprints, though. Hmm. I put in parameters for my current location in Baroda, India. Living the upper-middle-class Indian life. Hardly any travel by car. We still need 1.9 planets to support me. I guess the only real way to live is in a jhopad in Dharavi. And all this time I thought getting out of the jhopad was everyone's goal? Silly people ... I wonder what the algorithms for this -- which seems like one of those cute quizzes that are ubiquitous -- looks like? :) ]