Two British bishops are preaching the gospel of environmentalism and are urging parishioners to give up carbon emissions—and their cars—for Lent. With divine guidance and the help of Tearfund, a Christian relief and development organization, Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, and James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, are leading a forty-day Carbon Fast.
Paul Cook, head of policy with Tearfund, spoke about the movement on the radio program Living on Earth:
…We’re working with some of the poorest communities around the world in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. And over the last few years we’ve seen these communities being impacted by the change in climate. So climate change really hits the poorest hardest. But of course, the causes of climate change are back in the U.K. and the U.S. and other developed countries where we emit much more greenhouse gas than we should. And so, you know, this Lent the carbon fast is a great way to kind of challenge us to do something about that, to rectify some of that injustice.
Tearfund, Cook says, also makes it a point to practice what it preaches. “We feel it’s really important for us, actually, if we’re calling on others to do this,” he says, “we need to be doing it ourselves as well.”
Cook also mentioned that it’s more pious to pedal a bike (perhaps in sandaled feet?) than to drive a carbon-spewing car. The benefits, he said, go beyond lessening your polluting footprint. “It can be fun as well and helps you to get a bit fitter, as you cycle a lot more and drive your car less.”
In this time of grand materialism; of Hummers and bling and keeping up with the Joneses, Cook thinks it’s time to get back to basics and practice the simpler lifestyle upheld in poorer nations.
Cook told Living on Earth:
I think Jesus would want to be at the forefront of seeing how he could live a much simpler and basic lifestyle. I think people sometimes wonder why are Christians getting involved in issues like the environment? But… as a Christian development agency, we see the impact that climate change is having on some of the poorest, most vulnerable communities in the world, and if there’s one clear message that comes through the Bible it’s that God loves the poor, he loves the vulnerable and the marginalized. And so I think Jesus would want to be at the forefront of making sure his actions were having a positive action on the poor, not hurting them.
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