Energising the Future is the latest edition of Encounters, Redcliffe’s online journal. Editorial copied below:
Welcome to this edition of encounters, which is focused on environmental issues. The first part (articles 1 to 4) includes expert information on the contemporary energy issues faced today, and the challenge of implementing the required changes in order to safeguard a sustainable future. Coincidentally, this editorial is written on the same day that the International Bulletin of Missionary Research publishes its latest online journal headed, “Mission and the Care of Creation”, re-emphasising the growing importance of responding missiologically to some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced. All the articles in this edition rest firmly within the scope of our engagement with God’s creation.
The first four articles are edited transcripts from the talks delivered at the annual Redcliffe/JRI (John Ray Initiative) Environment Conference held at Redcliffe College earlier this year. The theme of “Energising the Future”, was fleshed out with talks discussing key sources of energy; coal, nuclear, oil and renewables.
Andy Brown pleads the case for coal to be given a ‘stay of execution’. Rather than condemning the ‘black stuff’ to the annals of history, he maintains that coal still has a role to play in our energy needs, at least for the immediate and near future, whilst acknowledging that that same ‘future’ has a limited life-span. Ian Hore-Lacy argues that the future is ‘nuclear’, whilst also attempting to allay safety fears, as the Fukushima disaster has highlighted, once again. John Twidell contends that the future can be safeguarded by harnessing energy derived from natural sources, such as wind, sun and water-flows, and upholds that these natural elements can provide sufficient power to fuel the global needs of the future, without recourse to the continuing damaging extraction of minerals from the earth. Finally, Brendan Bowles seeks to add missional thinking to the energy debate, and presents the dilemmas facing the growing economies of fast-developing nations such as Ghana, and the huge environmental challenge posed by China, overall the world’s largest environmental polluter, although far less of an emitter of CO2 than the US and Europe on a per capita basis. He concludes with some ‘Kingdom’ thoughts.
The second part of this edition comprises thinking which challenges many traditional mission attitudes on the Environment. ‘Matter-matters matter’ might seem like an absurd tongue-twisting phrase, but issues of the material world are matters that do matter!! This view sets itself up as a direct challenge to the still-rife dualistic worldview, which seeks to separate the ‘spiritual’ from the ‘material’. I would strongly encourage patient and open-minded consideration of the challenges presented.
Article 5, by Carol Kingston-Smith, reflects on contemporary political developments in Bolivia, where the Environmental crisis is seen as one meriting spiritual/philosophical engagement and requiring protection, rather than simply being left to the scientific world for resolution. The question of whether Mother Earth has rights, might invite swift rebuttal from some circles, but Carol reflects on how a Kingdom-oriented missiology might affirm the intrinsic goodness of creation and offer support for legal mechanisms which recognise the need to actively preserve that goodness for the benefit of all. The final two articles are written by current MA students, who have both studied the ‘Greening of Mission’ MA module at Redcliffe. Janet Parsons provides a helpful survey of eco-feminist and indigenous thought which has much to challenge dominant discourses of thinking and acting and, lastly, Benjamin Aldous provides an in-depth and critical examination of two biblical passages, focusing especially on the ‘contentious’ 2 Peter 3:10-13 text, which has resulted in polarised theologies concerning the fate of planet Earth. I trust these latter three articles will provoke personal responses, and maybe some of you will feel inclined to articulate the same on the message board!
Lecturer in Mission, Redcliffe College.