The Earth, Spirit, Action Team Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church
October, 2023 No._21______
Welcome to the October 2023 issue of “Good Tidings”, the ESA Team newsletter that provides information on local and global environmental and climate change issues; suggestions for personal and political actions that will build a healthy planet; information about resources, and actions from other environment and climate change organizations; and information about environmentally themed worship and prayer opportunities.
We welcome feedback from readers who would like to share their thoughts with us. Our email is: email@example.com
Finding Hope in Tough Times.
This summer has been an awful season for environmental destruction, locally and across the country. Fires have consumed thousands of hectares of forest, towns, and homes, in Nova Scotia, and in other provinces and territories. Huge rainfalls that have caused flooding and deaths. Hurricane Lee has destroyed beaches, docks, and boardwalks. We can attribute all this to a climate crisis that has been caused by our excessive use of fossil fuels, by a lifestyle, an economy, and a way of managing our societies that imperils the planet and the future of the global human community. Can we adopt radical change to meet the challenges we face? Is there hope? Where do we find it?
This issue of Good Tidings will attempt to offer some hope for coping with the climate crisis and a rapidly changing world. Elaine Murray reports on a workshop she attended that offered good counsel for adapting to this new world we are living in, for taking actions that will help us cope.
Anne-Marie Dalton will share reflections on Brian Swimme’s book, “Cosmogenesis”. Margaret Machum will review Seth Klein’s book, “A Good War”, with its advice on how the country should organize to fight climate change, and we will look at some actions being taken by other climate crisis groups to address the crisis with bold steps. And finally, we offer another delicious vegetarian recipe by Margaret Machum. We hope this issue will bring light and hope. JN
Reflections on Brian Swimme’s, Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe. Berkeley, CA, Counterpoint, 2022.
Submitted by Anne Marie Dalton
Who do you think you are? Are humans a lonely little peculiarity, strangers to the stars and even to the pesky pigeons and squirrels’ intent on invading human spaces? What is a human space anyway? Is that also peculiar among the tiny quarks and leptons or the black holes and galaxies (all trillions of them!)? Can all of this “other stuff” and the unimaginable time span of cosmic evolution exist merely to give and maintain human existence intended ultimately for a life beyond? And what kind of spirituality do these questions unfurl?
Cosmogenesis is a memoir of sorts, an auto-cosmology. Brian Swimme offers his readers an account of his own struggles with these challenging questions. Educated as a theoretical physicist with a special interest in astronomy, Brian knew all the equations. He had seen as far as the instruments would allow into deep space and met some of the greatest of the contemporary cosmologists. He differs from many of his colleagues in that he wanted to know and celebrate the experience of being an integral part of the cosmos that his equations so elegantly explained. His resulting journey is a response to all those questions that knowing more about the universe has created for many of us. Then there is the responsibility that knowledge brings with it.
Swimme came to New York to study with Thomas Berry, also at the time my mentor at Fordham University. He was disillusioned especially by the refusal or inability of some of his scientific colleagues to address or even express interest in the meaning and purpose inherent in their discoveries. In conversations, especially with Berry, but also with others such as Matthew Fox, the young Swimme came to be confident in his own intuition that the “equations” had meaning for human life. The diversity, creativity, and imagination inherent in the on-going evolving universe is the source of human existence. It is from a spirituality of intimate presence with the universe that humans take up the responsibility to respect all beings, animate and inanimate, that are really our kin.
In a profound way, as Swimme learns in his growing awareness of human devastation of Earth, we must learn anew how to take our place among a community of creatures. We belong to the universe. Certainly not all challenging questions find an answer in his account, but facing the climate crisis right now and sustaining the effort to do so calls for a new kind of intimacy, yes even with the immensity. This relationship requires both humility and confidence.
While Swimme does not directly converse with Christian sources in this book, I can’t help being reminded of God’s response to Job; in summary, who do you think you are Job? Be confident “Gird up your loins like a man.” (38:3). Be humble: “Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place…?” 38: 13. And so on. All of the creatures called forth to Job also have a place in the created world; they are not however subservient to him (to us). Modern science has given us a larger view of the created world than that available to Job. It is within this larger view that Cosmogenesis gives a moving account of one person’s struggle to find such a place of fruitful belonging. AMD.
Navigating Uncertainty and Tumult as Changemakers
September 28, 2023
Submitted by Elaine Murray
Climate anxiety is something that many people, old and young are experiencing now. This webinar, hosted by the Ecology Action Centre, was an opportunity to address this. There were over 60 people who attended, and we were led by Karen McKendry, EAC, Sarah JS and Laura Schmidt from the Good Grief Network.
We began with a grounding exercise using a breathing technique, inhaling for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds. We did that a few times to center ourselves for the work ahead. Sarah reflected on the inner world VS the outer world and how we tend to focus so much of our energy on the outer world / work.
We need to learn to BE with inner discomfort and not try to push it away or ignore it. It is helpful to work individually and collectively on feelings of despair and hopelessness. Find others who are also feeling this way and acknowledge that though they are heavy feelings, they are a normal response to what we see in the world today. We see so much destruction, death and injustice in our world and we have to feel the grief, notice it, name it and share it.
Sarah stressed the need to take breaks for self care. We often find ourselves working frantically to change what is happening and it is easy to burn out and get discouraged. She suggested that we find someplace in nature that brings us joy, a favourite tree or garden, a walk in the woods, and spend intentional time there, telling the tree or woods how important they are to you. This helps to fill our cup so we can go back to the work refreshed.
We need to remember that we live in very uncertain times and most of us do not like chaos or uncertainty. We have grown accustomed to the seasons of the year being predictable, knowing what to expect in the spring, summer, fall and winter but with climate change, that is no longer the case. But uncertainty is connected to possibility. If we are certain about something, we are not open to inspiration or other possibilities or options.
Love is held in our grief. If we did not love the earth, the creatures on it, the land, and the sea, we would not grieve its loss. As painful as the grief is, it shows us how much we care. We need to build rituals for grief where we can join with others, find community there and know that we are not alone. God is with us no matter what happens in the future, whether we find solutions that will lessen the impacts of climate change or not, God is still with us. EM.
by Martha Postlethwaite.
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.
A GOOD WAR: MOBILIZING CANADA FOR THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY by Seth Klein Reviewed by Margaret Machum
Those of us who have been advocating for the prevention and mitigation of climate change are now suffering from grief due to the events this Summer of unprecedented floods, extreme heat, wildfires, and the continuation of violence. All of us are now wondering what to do as we witness the turbulence of today’s world.
Seth Klein’s book, copyright 2020, offers a blueprint and precise directions for action. It is a timely read.
Klein argues that Canada can step up now as everyone did with the crisis of World War II. In 1939, then Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King realized the need to mobilize to meet this crisis as government institutions, corporations, and civil society were utterly unprepared. Now, we are in a similar situation with the generational crisis of climate change. It is time to fight for our collective future.
Climate change, as World War II, is an emergency situation that requires a new mindset. We need to move from our business-as-usual mode and steadfastly focus our attention on addressing the urgent task at hand.
In order to do so, we must galvanize public support and social solidarity as Mackenzie King did during World War II. Polls have shown that Canadians are worried about climate change, agree that it is an emergency and no longer an abstract threat. As in wartime mobilization, we must confront inequality as we transition to a world without fossil fuels. We need to deal with regional differences in order to move forward with cooperative federalism for the sake of national security. We must remake the economy as we did during the war years.
These are big asks, but Canadians did just that as we mobilized to fight for a free world and we can do the same now as we fight for the sustainability of our planet. This will require our government, our provinces, our households to step up to do their part.
Mr Klein shows how we can do all this by mobilizing labour with a just transition and with full employment with a made-in-Canada green new deal.; by mobilizing money for our future by liberating public spending to pay for full-scale transition; by issuing green Victory Bonds; by raising taxes and eliminating loopholes and deductions that benefit the wealthy.
Bold leadership will be needed both from the grassroots and in our politics. Many voices are rising up including indigenous leadership, civil society leadership, youth leadership, citizen assemblies, electoral reform, and divestment. Beyond our borders, we will need to increase aid to other parts of the world dealing with climate displacement.
This book gives guidance on how to go forward. It provides hope for our future. As I said in my sermon this Summer, we can do this by taking one step at a time. Seth Klein’s book provides us with the directions for these steps. MM.
What Other Environmental Groups are Saying and Doing
David Suzuki Foundation. Environmental warrior David Suzuki urges us all to keep making noise about the climate crisis to our political leaders.
Greenpeace asks for our support, for green reconstruction projects as Ukrainian villages and towns rebuild public and private buildings destroyed in the war.
Leadnow.ca is petitioning the Senate to pass bill S-233 calling for a basic livable income for all Canadians “Poverty costs the government a staggering $72-86 billion every year. A basic income would help close the gaps by radically simplifying access to income support. Research shows that basic income could lift millions of people out of poverty, while boosting the economy by $80 billion a year.
Greenpeace examines the role of Canadian banks in financing the fossil fuel industry, and a call on the federal government to “use all legislative and regulatory tools at its disposal to align Canada’s financial system with the Paris Agreement”, with a petition to MPs and Ministers.
FairVote Canada - https://fairvote.ca/ (We are including this announcement because we think proportional representation may help our country make critical decisions based on broader input from the electorate.) “In the coming months, Parliament will be voting on Motion M-86 for a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. In Canada’s history, federal Parliamentarians have never before had an opportunity to vote on a proposal like this. Winner-take-all systems like first-past-the-post create a political culture that is more polarized. Countries with proportional representation have the best outcomes on health, human development, environmental protection and economic growth. If you are willing to lead a face to face visit with your MP we need you! Please sign up now.
APPLE AND PARSNIP SOUP (Serves 6) Preparation Time: 1.5 hrs
1 lb parsnips, peeled.
1 ½ lb Honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced.
¼ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp grapeseed or avocado oil
1 cup onions, diced.
¾ cup celery, diced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Place the apples and parsnips on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Roast in oven for 45 minutes.
4. Add oil to large stock pot. Saute onions and celery until tender.
5. Add Dijon, salt and pepper. Deglaze pot with cider vinegar.
6. Add roasted apple and parsnips, bay leaves, stock, water, and cinnamon sticks.
7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
8. Remove bay leaves and discard.