Operation Noah conference in Oxford: ‘Climate change: What can Christians do?’

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 11th, 2006

(Photograph: The Revd Professor Ian James explaining carbon dioxide and ice ages.)

After the successful Operation Noah conference last year in High Wycombe ‘Climate Change: How Christians Respond’, this year Sage and others brought ‘Climate change: What can Christians do?’ to Oxford today, 11 February 2006, with about 150 people attending. The main venue is Wesley Memorial Church, with some workshops at St Michael-at-the-Northgate.

The Revd Professor Ian James (see photograph) and Paula Clifford of Christian Aid gave the keynote speeches in the morning. They reminded me that Bishop Richard once said that the phrase Jesus used to refer to himself, ‘son of man’ (בן אדם; ben ‘adam), can also be read with an ecological meaning: son of (he who came from) the earth.

I went to a workshop led by Sister Nora Coughlan SMG, ‘Lessons from the Book of Creation’, where she led us through some Ignatian exercises. We were asked to identify a place in our childhood where we connected with nature. Well, the best I could muster was my ‘black mountain’ (o͘-soaⁿ; ‘Crna Gora’?), namely the levee near my childhood home. When I was a little boy, I was quite scared of it at night; when I was older, I quite enjoyed being there by myself staring at people working at the informal allotments beyond the levee. The exercise got me wondering that with my childhood experience as a city boy, it was nothing short of the grace of God that made me such a greenie today….

For me, the theme of (inter)connectedness resonated today, and I was also reminded of Acts 17:28: ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being.’ Perhaps it is a shared possible defect of both the Protestant Reformation and ‘rational’ liberalism: They go so far in the ‘hinayana’ or individualistic direction that people become so autistic as to disconnect themselves from their history and their communities…? The other thing I need to figure out is where all the sugar produced with subsidies in the European Union goes — we do not seem to be buying enough of them ourselves here in Europe, as we buy lots of imported cane sugar.

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One Comment

  1. On May 31, 2006 at 04:57 Dr Kaihsu Tai (Oxford, England) said:

    This is now reprinted in Sage Words, the newsletter of Sage: Oxford’s Christian environmental group.