Monday, May 20, 2013

Adélie penguins, BC lemons and Luke 21

A few years ago, maritime lawyer Joe Spears suggested that, if global warming continues to melt Arctic ice, that would open up the Northwest Passage and make for greater movement of goods by ship. At the time, I sneered at the proposition: here we have the earth (I reasoned) hurtling towards destruction, and Joe's talking about improved commercial shipping?

Of course, that was when I was still of the mindset that global warming/climate change was a Bad Thing. But the more I've thought about it -- or, more accurately, the more the Lord has shown me the things that are written in His Word -- the more I've realized that these events are part of His plan, and rather than curse Him for sending a Bad Thing, we are to draw closer to Him and react according to His instructions.

Rather than seeing Joe Spears' prediction as a callous response to a crisis, we should see it as a case of adapting to changing conditions.

And there have been other items in the news about effects of global warming/climate change that may not be Bad Things, after all. Adélie penguins, for example, are actually benefiting from increased habitat due to the receding ice in the Antarctic. The Vancouver Sun reported in May that some growers on Vancouver Island are able to grow lemons and other citrus crops, due to changes in climate.

In my book, A Very Convenient Truth, or, Jesus Told Us There'd Be Days Like These, so Stop Worrying About the Planet and Get With His Program!, I point out that often, God's plan looks bad to us, simply because it can cause pain. But because His plan has been worked out from before the beginning of time, we need to focus not on the things that make us afraid but on what our instructions are -- spelled out for us in the Bible -- for responding to it.

In the Gospels, we read how Jesus forged ahead with the plan He'd been sent to execute, even though it ran against things people of the world thought were "good". When Peter protested that Jesus should not be persecuted and killed, Jesus called out Satan. At another point, "when Jesus perceived that [the people] were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone." (John 6:15) Wouldn't it have been "good" for Jesus to be declared King of the Jews? Wasn't that why the Messiah was supposed to come?

Yet, that would have kippered God's ongoing plan for our salvation today. If the people had had their way 2,000 years ago, where would we be now? Would we not still be wandering around in our sin, despairing that we had no way out -- assuming mankind would still exist?

As I write this, a report in Le Monde describes the very real threat in Micronesia from the effects of global warming. Livelihoods are in jeopardy, as are whole islands, from rising ocean levels. The article, however, points the blame squarely at industrialized countries and their "environmental irresponsibility". Clearly, there's a lot to fear.

But this is also an opportunity to reach out and help our fellow humans adapt to the changes. Pointing a finger at big bad industrialized countries, however soul-satisfying it might be, won't help anything. Just as we see the  way environmental change is benefiting Adélie penguins, potentially increasing commerce through the Northwest Passage and giving fruit growers on Vancouver Island a new cash crop, we need to look for ways to adapt to these new circumstances.

(It's worth noting that the blame is being fixed after the fact. The Word of God, however, also tells us what's going to happen, and enough of Its prophecies have already come to pass that we really need to take note.) Jesus says, "There will be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars; and on earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken." (Luke 21:25-26)

This is not a time for our hearts to fail us and for us to worry about what the future will bring (the "expectation of things coming"). Jesus tells us what happens next -- "the Son of Man [will come] in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27) -- and we need to be prepared.

A Very Convenient Truth; or Jesus told us there'd be days like these, so stop worrying about the planet and get with His program! is an ebook, available for US$3.99 through online bookstores like Chapters/Indigo or Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Meatless Monday - environmental and health benefits -- and it's Biblical!

Today's Vancouver Sun has an item on a concept that's getting some traction: Meatless Monday. Author Eleanor Boyle says the idea is being picked up in various jurisdictions around the world -- promoting the idea of going one day of the week without meat (although the City of Vancouver is only proclaiming one meatless day so far -- June 10).

(Eleanor has already milked gags like "steakholder engagement", so I'll spare you. Thank Heaven for small mercies.)

The concept is being pitched as a step towards solving some environmental and health problems. There are issues like land use and obesity that are connected with meat-eating, and while experts figure Canadians, Americans and Australians would have to cut their meat consumption in half to allow truly sustainable livestock production, the concept is a start. Kind of like an 8-hour fast or going without coffee for a week, it's a foot in the door and (egad!) one may even like it.

(We have friends on Vancouver Island who are vegetarians, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that the way they cook, you don't really notice that there's no meat.)

But there's another upside to Meatless Monday: it's Biblical.

I don't mean Religious -- as in the dictum that you can only eat fish on Friday -- I mean Biblical in that there's actually a commandment relating to it. It's called the Land Sabbath.

When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord.
Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;
But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard.
What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine: for it is a year of rest for the land.
-- Lev. 25:2-5 (NKJV)

Later, the Lord states that, in the sixth year, the land will produce enough food to last through the seventh year and all the way up to harvest time in Year Eight -- the first year of the new cycle.

Talk about counter-intuitive: have "normal" harvests for five years, then production triples in the sixth year, and then you're supposed shut down production for a full year?

But the idea is to give the land rest for one-seventh of the time, just as we're supposed to devote one day out of seven to rest and the Lord. It's sustainability -- God's version.

But in our urban society, how do we observe the Land Sabbath, ourselves? Meatless Monday is one way to do it. Reduce our food consumption by one-seventh, and we're taking that much pressure off the land. Reduce demand, and there's more food to go around and less "demand" for production-increasing techniques, like growth hormones and genetic modification. 

Of course, God always gives us the choice of whether to follow His commandments or not -- but He makes it clear what the benefits are of obeying. So if people commit to following the Land Sabbath -- and Meatless Monday is a good way to start -- it is written that they'll reap rewards and blessings beyond anything they could have thought of. 

I discuss the Land Sabbath and other ways to look past fears of Global Warming or Climate Change and see how God expects us to behave in Chapter 7 of my book, A Very Convenient Truth -- or, Jesus Told Us There'd Be Days Like These, so Stop Worrying About The Environment And Get With His Program! 

Available as an e-book, US$3.99 at Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.