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BY REV. SHANNAN VANCE-OCAMPO

August 12, 2019


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The Northern Right Whale, one of many ever-more-endangered species.
"As Scientists Warn of Biodiversity Crisis, Trump Administration Guts Endangered Species Act" - courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council. This popular and highly effective national strategy and law which protects and preserves crucial and vulnerable plants and wildlife will be curtailed in dramatic and life-ending ways for hundreds if not thousands of species.
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great...May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke….Let sinners be consumed from the earth,and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord! - Psalm 104, selected verses

This past weekend I listened to an episode of the EcoCiv podcast, which is produced by the Institute for Ecological Civilization. This episode featured Dr. Eileen Crist, who talked about her new book Abundant Earth. She made the statement early on that stopping species loss is one of the most important elements to solving or mitigating the climate crisis. We need to curb (eliminate) fossil fuels, but animal biodiversity and extinction prevention must also be given high priority. Many of the things that need to happen quickly to deal with the climate emergency (fossil fuels, letting go of meat consumption, ending capitalism, moving to renewables) are long-term projects. But extinction, she reminds us in this podcast, is forever. We can’t go back and try to fix it once a species of an animal or a plant is gone. Gone is gone. 

We are living in a time where the highest rates of extinction are occurring since the time of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We are losing wild animals and plants at rates we can barely process in our minds and heart. Simultaneously, we currently use at least 40% of non-ice covered land in the world for livestock food production. All non-ice covered land on planet Earth is a literal killing field of one type or another of plants and animals. 

What are we doing to the good Creation that God gifted us with? What sort of “worship” is this? The losses of animals and plants, whose intricate ways we are just beginning to understand, is a grief that is simply unbearable when I imagine it. 

Heartbreakingly, the Trump administration is only interested in furthering the death spiral of the capitalisic enterprise this country was founded on. This administration seems to want everything to die or be permanently harmed in the pursuit of profit and wealth, whether it is the Earth, beautiful and diverse creatures, immigrants and their children, people of color, sacred indigenous sites, or those who are poor. 

Capitalism, white supremacy, kills. And as people of faith we must rebuke all that goes against life abundant. Everything belongs to God and was created by God. Everything therefore is sacred and deserving of love, attention, devotion and protection. I don’t want to be part of a church that is silent or worse yet, milquetoast, in the face of these compounding evils. I want a church that is clear in its voice and resolute in its protective and loving defense of Creation.

Join the Climate Strike on September 20th. Interfaith partners such as GreenFaith and Interfaith Power and Light also have components for faith-based community organizing. Join or start a strike march in your area.
O God, we do not have sufficient words to describe how much we love your Creation. We do not have enough words to tell you how grieved we are by those who must hate you so much that they want to kill and harm all the beauty you have provided. Help us to build new arks of safety for all who are in need of them. Help us to rejoice in the goodness and indescribable beauty of all that is around us. Make us fall in love with the divine beauty of this planet we call home so that our hearts and souls can be strong to face the evil that seeks to destroy all that you have done. We want to do something new, something faithful, and something creative so that we can honor you, Lord of all Creation. Draw near to us, and to all your creatures, we pray - Amen.
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