This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, September 24, 2021
This week I’ve been thinking about the language of ‘alma mater’. Not every Canadian university presses that phrase for their alumni, but my undergraduate studies were with a school that did, and still does. Homecoming was an enormous milestone every year, attempting to instill lifelong loyalty, and multi-generational family attendance. Attention is usually fixed on all to be lauded of the campus story. It’s a bit of a dangerous path, though, carved firm by denial.
That good news emphasis was confronted quite nationally this past week and more. It is painful, but overdue. Much more quietly, on a very different topic, was a piece in the quarterly alumni magazine. It was meant to be a self-congratulatory piece, on the creation of a new study major in Climate Change. How wonderful, I thought; and also overdue. The text that followed took the wind out of my alumna sails, again.
Climate change, said the program director, is an issue of “today’s youth”, impacting “their lives”. “They’ll be the ones responding to it,” he said. “They’re energized to take action,” he said. What?! I mean, I believe that to be true… but where on earth are “we” with “them”? How can “we” possibly suggest handing off this crisis – this long-standing practice of abusing the nourishing mother planet we’re entrusted to share – like it’s something for another generation to study and fix, and make no mention that this is our multi-generational, collective creation, making a right mess of God’s Creation?
Do I sound fed up? A little frustrated and miffed? Accurate, then, are my words and what they might start to convey. I pray you’ll join me – not just in the emotional jargon but the concrete response. I pray you’ll come with me, deeper in this Season of Creation; deeper into the harsh truths of where we are and what must be done, as God’s people, for all God’s creatures. This isn’t for another generation. This is for us all. Future generations will bear the greater brunt of consequences, but we’re all still very much here, right now.
As a wise mentor once said, in challenge to a church leader’s attempt to opt out of participation: “You’re here looking at me, aren’t you? Then you have a part to play. Let’s go.” That may not be the gentlest phrasing, but it’s so very, very true. It also feels like something Jesus would say. He was, after all, the finest teacher and practitioner, that the greatest, most merciful Love must speak the greatest truths.
With love to you all,
“Hope is the most important contribution people of faith can and must make
as humanity confronts the climate crisis.
To become people of hope, we must be willing to stare reality in the face.”
(Jim Antal, ‘Climate Church, Climate World’)