Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living is a relatively small book that tackles a broad range of issues. As the title states, the authors cover everything from the science of climate change to the appropriate Christian response to climate change. They also offer some practical advice to help both individuals and communities live more sustainably.Though the flow of the book suffers a little due to the wide range of topics that are covered, I think the book is successful on all fronts. The summary of climate change is concise and accurate, giving a good overview of past, current, and projected future climate change and its many effects on our planet. I especially like how the authors frame anthropogenic climate change as a "reckless experiment." This is an appropriate way to think about climate change because, though the authors do not mention this, this century might be the first time that CO2 emissions have risen far ahead of temperatures (ice core records indicate that, in the past, the temperature changed first, followed by changes in CO2 levels). While we have sophisticated computer models that can project future changes based on current levels of knowledge, by emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases we are essentially taking part in a global experiment with a complex, poorly understood climate system. This fact alone should be enough to warrant caution when it comes to our fossil fuel use. After laying out the evidence for the reality and potential severity of climate change and its effects, the authors turn to the question of how Christians should respond. Their answers are both wide-ranging and compelling. Through a much-needed evaluation of our unsustainable (and unhealthy) consumer culture, a Biblically-based call to take care of God's creation, and a reminder of God's charge for us to care for the poor (who will be most affected by climate change), the authors articulate a vision of a total Christian response to climate change. They cast this response as an important part of bringing God's kingdom to Earth. As Christians we are familiar with the spiritual aspects of the transformation of old to new, but Spencer, White, and Vrobleskly challenge us to think about how this applies to the whole of God's creation.?? Also integrated into the book are plenty of practical principles to help guide our response, updates on national and global policies, quick analyses of alternative energy sources, and a helpful list of Christian organizations devoted to realizing the vision of responsible, sustainable living. Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living is being published in the U.S. by Hendrickson and can be found here. Christians looking for a substantive, thoughtful response to the often heated (and politicized) issues regarding climate change and what to do about it need to read this book.
My Path to God: My path to God was a long and winding path.?? For the majority of my life, other than some Baptist Church experience when I was just a child, my life was not very spiritual.?? My family, though very loving, is a boisterous bunch with very strong wills and attitudes.?? Needless to say the words ???God?????and ???Jesus?????were never very popular around the Ponkala dinner table, except of course if you count the use of the holy word followed by a wave of expletives.?? My first experience with a power outside of myself came shortly after my brother had killed himself.?? Being the tender age of 11 I did not take it well.?? Shortly thereafter I found myself being haunted by his presence everywhere I went.?? One night after my parents went out and I was alone in the house I lied on the couch crying and began talking to my brother.?? I was able to tell him I loved him and that I would never forget him.?? After that night I felt like a weight had been lifted from my soul and from that point on I was no longer afraid for my brother.?? Looking back on this experience now I believe that God was helping me through this but I just didn???t realize it at the time.?? I went on for many more years without anybody holding me accountable for my actions.?? At the age of fourteen I began drinking and realized this was a way to escape from the realities of the world.?? I somehow made it through high school and got into a college in Maine.?? For a drinker Maine was heaven.?? Stores were open till the middle of the night and every Mom and Pop general store sold alcohol.?? My drinking really escalated in college as did my bad temper.?? I could hide my loneliness behind the bottle and hide my fear with an explosive temper.?? My college days were filled with drunken stupors, fights, and car wrecks.?? I decided after the school kicked me out and the State of Maine wouldn???t let me drive anymore that it was time to go home to Connecticut.?? Upon returning home without being able to drive my alcohol consumption became limited enough for me to get my accounting degree.?? I met my wife Debbie during this time and knew right from the start that she was the one that I was going to marry.?? She had an innocence and a gentleness to her that was unmatched by anyone that I had ever met.?? When we decided to get married at St. Edward???s church I was required to attend classes and eventually was baptized as a Catholic. I really enjoyed learning about faith but by this time drinking was my only ambition.?? After wrecking the car that was my baby with my wife to be at my side I was sent to jail for 40 days.?? During this time in jail I admitted for the first time that I was an alcoholic, but like many alcoholic???s being forced into therapy the realization did not take hold.?? After I got out and stayed clean for about a year I was able to enjoy one of the two best days of my life, my wedding. (The best day is still the day my son was born)?? A strange thing happened after that, the State of Connecticut decided it was a good idea to give me my driver???s license back.?? Within two weeks I was back out drinking more than I ever had.?? At this point I was out of work and my health was not good.?? I would get up every morning and not be able to function without alcohol; it was a miserable time in my life.?? Then one morning after a particularly long night of drinking, a blackout, and my wife threatening to leave I had hit my bottom.?? With my wife by my side I went to Johnson Memorial Hospital and checked myself into the hospital.?? While in the hospital I met gentlemen who knew of this outpatient program in Enfield where people like me could get help and be taught a new way of living, a sober way of living.?? Although I had my doubts, I agreed because I had no fight left in me.?? I felt really old and pathetic and wondered how I was ever going to make it.?? One of the requirements of my outpatient therapy was to attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week.?? Although I was reluctant my wife and I decided of this was going to work I had to start listening to someone.?? In Alcoholics Anonymous they teach you of what they call a higher power.?? A higher power is simply someone or something that you can rely on to get you through the rough times.?? This is an essential part of A.A. as a time will come in every alcoholic???s recovery that the only thing between the addict and a drink is a faith in a higher power.?? Now my thoughts were always that this higher power was God but in A.A. we try to stay away from giving this power a name.?? Alcoholics when they first come into the rooms are a very leery group.?? Given some of the things that we alcoholics have been through you can certainly understand why.?? It was at these A.A. meetings that I met the people that would save my life.?? I no longer thought of myself as an outcast, someone that society should look down upon.?? Instead, the same people whose lives were a mess like mine told me about the one thing that could save me.?? I believed them because it already had worked for them.?? That one thing missing from my life was God.?? In the rest of my lifetime I will never be able to repay the debt that I owe the people in A.A. for leading me to God.?? I knew at this point what I had to do and it was an unbelievable feeling.?? I felt like my life finally had a direction.?? I was going to surround myself with spiritual people and find out everything I could about this ???God??? character.?? At this point I bounced around to a number of churches but none felt right for me.?? It was certainly invigorating to hear the Word of God, but something was missing.?? Then one faithful afternoon last summer my brother in law suggested that I went with him and ???the boys??? to St. Paul???s.?? He had been attending for awhile and thought it may be something I would enjoy as it had a different feel than some of the other churches he had tried.?? That first day I walked in to St. Paul???s something happened, I can???t really describe what it was, but I felt right away that I was home.?? One of the first things that inspired me was the younger crowd.?? I am always a little worried about the hurdles the next generation is going to have to conquer and for them to have a place like St. Paul???s where they can find the answers made me feel good.?? The thing that sealed the deal for me was after the first mass; Susie Huang came up, introduced herself and welcomed me.?? It didn???t feel like she was doing it out of some obligation, but that she was really interested in how I enjoyed my first mass at St. Paul???s.?? Unfortunately due to the events of last summer my brother in law stopped attending St. Paul???s but I had found a home and I wasn???t leaving.?? Since that time God has introduced me to some of the most amazing people that I have ever met, people that not only believe in the church but want to make it great.?? I want to be a part of that.?? I can really feel God working in this church and molding His children into disciples who can spread His message.?? Today it is truly my belief that everything I have gone through has led me to this point.?? Now it is time for me to become the man that God wants me to be, and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Post by: Erick Ponkala
Some time ago, on the old blog, I posted two entries in a series on the Copernican Revolution and the Galileo Affair. For those of you who read them and perhaps would like to finish the series, I will direct you to them here. That will get you to the first post, and at the bottom of each post is a link to the next one in the series.
Last month, at our membership meeting I gave a min-state of the union address to our members.?? I will give that message to our entire church on Sunday, April 25th.?? In this way everyone in our church will know four things:?? where we are, where we are going, how we are going to get there, and how you can help.
For our members who have already heard this:?? don???t worry.?? The message will not be an exact repeat.?? Many of the ideas will be same, but hopefully with more clarity, more illustrations and more specific applications.
So thank you members.?? Your encouragement and feedback have helped me to refine and rework this important message to our whole community.??