Planet, Poverty, Peace, Politics and People are the themes we are using to shape our year as @acnbchurch. In this outline Revd Victoria outlines the 5P’s. In coming weeks we’ll be exploring this more on video and in text form.
God told us to care for this planet as good stewards. We’re trashing it as greedy, heartless consumers. Climate change is the most urgent of our problems, but it’s the tip of the melting iceberg. Look at the extinction and loss of insects (including pollinators, who are essential for 30% of our calories), birds, mammals, fish … Think about loss of soil, fresh water, coral reefs, fisheries … Think about how many paradises are being paved for parking, motorways, or fossil fuel extraction.
In 2015, 80 rich individuals owned as much wealth as half of the earth’s people. In 2016, the number went down to 61. In 2017, it was 42. In 2018, it was 26 (And some people think it was 8, because we’re undercounting how poor the poorest people are.) Think about that for a while, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of power. Think of how much power those 26 people have over the lives of the rest of humanity. That’s a problem.
When the planet is being exploited, and so are the poor, the results are predictable: drought, flood, famine, hunger, mass migration, petty crime, organised crime, political corruption, civil war, world war, nuclear war. Martin Luther King was right: our choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence:it is between nonviolence and nonexistence. In times of stress, we are more likely to lash out at others, to blame others, to choose fight and flight over love and curiosity, to put winning battles over winning friends.
We’re in the midst of a global crisis and what some would even call the countdown to a 3rd world war. At the root of our political problems are greed and power, both of which fuel abuses of corruption at all levels of government around the world. Meanwhile, media corporations feed society with carefully chosen news and social propaganda to keep us compliant with ‘acceptable’ views and ‘values’. And behind the scenes governments are becoming puppets of a global oligarchy that includes business corporations, arms manufacturers and others, to serve their own interests rather than the common good.
All People, all people, no exceptions are loved by God. Whether it’s Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ persons, refugees, immigrants, Mexicans, Sikhs, Hindus, liberals, conservatives, the media, or whoever … we have a growing number of religious and political figures who scapegoat vulnerable groups and blame them for all of our problems. Suddenly, Jesus’ teachings about loving our neighbour as ourselves (no exceptions, including our Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, atheist, Mexican, or any other kind of neighbour) seems positively revolutionary, and the same goes for Paul’s words about how when we’re in Christ, we no longer see people in terms of ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, etc.
Almost every Bible story addresses these issues. Once you start noticing these themes in the biblical text, you’ll wonder how so many people miss them, or avoid them. We will be holding the theme of the 5Ps throughout this year and will be thinking and exploring these themes in our Lent group.