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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, March 09, 2006
    Two green gospels
    Two contrasting evenings on a closely-related theme. Last night, James Jones updating a small gathering at Liverpool Hope University on the development of his very Jesus-focussed eco-theology, addressing the theme of climate change. Tonight, Columban Missionary Sean O'Donagh showing slides of planetary explosions, solar systems and planet life to a drama hall full of people at Maricourt Catholic High School.

    James speaks of escorting Tony Blair around Kensington Academy, Liverpool's new faith school, the country's first with an environmental specialism, recalls meetings with President Bush's staff, a speech made to the annual conference of Shopping Centre Managers, Radio Four Thoughts for the Day, all of them opportunities to spread his particular brand of green gospel, one which works firmly within the structures of capitalism but urges an environmental responsibility based firmly on the presence of 'The Son of The Man of Earth' on his created planet.

    Sean O'Donagh enthuses about the wonder of the earth, about the mystery at the heart of the beginning, about the way that the very carbon in our bones comes from the explosion of a star billions of years ago. He uses phrases like 'a cosmic moment of grace' to describe with wonder some of the incidences which hold our planetary life together, tenderly. He talks about the T'boli people on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, with whom he spent many years, learning directly from them their view of the earth. His references are Thomas Berry, Teilhard de Chardin and Patrick Kavanagh ("'That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God / was breathing His love by a cut-away bog").

    Couldn't be less similar, these two. But both speak with an infectious passion of the planet on which we're placed, and which is facing real crisis. I could critique either on various points of their analysis or strategy, but that would detract from what we've gained these last two evenings. The point is that the more - and varied - voices speaking out on this, and enthusing others to get active for the sake of the planet, the better.