Thursday, April 28, 2011

A theology of farts and orgasms

What is he saying now? What the heck does this have to do with the environment? Well I don't want to fill it out too much as I want to write a print article, but the basic point of a theology of fart and orgasms is to get away from the dualism that often infects conservative churches.

Farting links us to our digestive system and various often not discussed biological functions. As Montaigne noted, even kings and women sit on their backsides. To have a theology of farts is to remember we are biological beings, and yet it is exactly in the flesh that we are made in the image of God. None of this is in of itself is bad, in fact it is declared good. But further, our farts remind us of our need for food, and food connects humans with the humus, Adam with the Adamah. Such a theology makes us see the need to care for our planet because of our close connection with it - we draw our food (and hence our farts) from the soil, not from the supermarket. Note that the resurrected Jesus ate.

A theology of orgasms acknowledges that we were blessed to be fruitful and multiply. As evolved organisms we have an inner drive to reproduce ourselves., As God's image blessed to procreate we are called to continue our line so that there will always be image bearers. Sex is fun, and it is natural. A theology of orgasms reminds us that ethics is for humans not angels (see Rodney Clapp's Tortured Wonders). Sex is fun, messy, sometimes complicated, and very, very earthy. But reproduction also reminds us of limits, no other species reproduces without limits. It is fairly obvious that the command to be fruitful and multiply has been fulfilled, with a world population approaching 7 billion. You can't feed an exponentially growing population with at best a geometrically growing food base, with exhausted soils, desertification, global warming driven drying climates, exhausted fisheries, etc. We are creatures of desires and limits who need to exercise self control.

So, look out for a future Zadok Perspectives and a solid theology of farts and orgasms. The church needs it.

Euthanasia and global warming

A friend passed around a link on Facebook to a poll in the Northern Territory about euthanasia laws. Now don't get me wrong, I find the idea of sanctioned killing of the old or suffering disturbing, saddening and in the end morally disagreeable, and would never want to see it legislated. There has been great advances in palliative care and it reflects far better on a society that people are cared for in their suffering. One might pull out the usual argument that we play God when we choose the timing of our own deaths.

However, we do drug up people in pain, and I imagine some people who are old and frail have little conscious experience because of this, to say nothing of the morally complex cases of people on life support. When does quality of life ebb so low that it isn't worth living? Does God desire us to suffer? Some would respond with comments about character, etc, but suffering in any form is an evil even if it can result in a good. In the end I'd rather see such laws opposed and more put into care for those who suffer.

So why bring global warming into this? Well it is usually going to be the old who are going to be euthanased. And it is the very old who suffer directly from global warming. In 2003, Europe suffered a huge heat wave during summer. It is estimated that some 35,000 people died as a result of the heat wave. The summer temperatures in Europe for example were some 5 standard deviations away from the mean values, i.e. it was an extreme event. Comparisons of temperatures between the late half of the 19th and early part of the 20th, and the second half of the 20th c. saw a change in the mean temperature of about 1 C. A recent study showed that this heat wave is four times more likely to occur in our warmed climate than in a pre-industrial atmosphere. Future scenarios for Europe show up to 4 C warming by the end of the century with 100% change in temperature variability, making a rare event common.

Most of those who died in the heat wave were the elderly, who are often already dehydrated, have heart issues, problems thermo-regulating, etc. Euthanasia is the decision to die, right or wrong. Global warming is already killing the elderly in extreme events in the civilised West. We know global warming is real - so why campaign on euthanasia but not on global warming? Same goes with abortion. Complex issue, sad, terminating young lives. With water already being a problem in the developing world, dirty water causing many deaths by diarrhea, how much more so will the poor children die in the warming climate? Why campaign against abortion in the west yet let children die elsewhere?

Christian ethics should not just be about standard life/death issues.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Christians in Community Gardening Visits, Inner Sydney - Saturday 28th May

Are you or your church involved in community gardening? Or are you thinking about making a start? Are you interested in meeting with Christian community gardeners and hearing their stories? Come along to this tour of community gardens at churches in inner Sydney, including Food Forest (at St Michael’s Anglican Church Surry Hills), Eden Garden (at South Sydney Uniting Church), Turtle Lane Community Garden (at St Joseph’s Catholic Church Newtown), and Cottage in the Graveyard Community Garden (at St Stephen’s Anglican Church Newtown).

Date/time: Saturday 28th May, 9:30am-3:30pm.

Location: Meet and finish at St Michael’s Anglican Church, 200 Albion St, Surry Hills.

Cost: $15 ($10 concession), includes lunch.

Transport between gardens will be provided.

RSVP essential, to Miriam Pepper on 0447 730 772 or Places are limited so early booking is advised.

For more information, see

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why we disagree about climate change public lecture

Public lecture at Melbourne University Tuesday May 3 2011, 5.30-6.30. Register here

Information on the book by the speaker by the same name found here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Invitation to become involved in an A Rocha group

Dear friend

We are a group of Christians giving careful and prayerful consideration to the need and desirability of establishing a national Christian environmental organisation in Australia modelled on A Rocha. As part of this process we are seeking the advice and expressions of interest from a number of individuals and Christian organisations.

A Rocha is an established international Christian organization which, inspired by God’s love, engages in scientific research, environmental education and community-based conservation projects. If you are unfamiliar with the work and values of A Rocha you can find out more at A short video of the work of A Rocha can be viewed at

As you know, issues of environmental sustainability, together with concern about climate change, are generating substantial controversy and debate both nationally and globally, a debate and controversy reflected within the Church. We think that an Australian organisation linked to A Rocha, with its unequivocal emphasis upon the Biblical mandate to care for creation and protect bio-diversity, could play a significant role in restoring communities and country with the hope for sustainable development, and engaging Christians in such work.

It would be very helpful to us to know whether or not you share our hunch regarding the need to develop an Australian chapter of A Rocha, and, if so, whether or not you would like to participate in the next exploratory step. This would involve bringing together interested people and organisations for a roundtable discussion (both physical and via Skype).

We would appreciate it very much if you could email your responses back to me (Mick Pope) here by Friday 13th May 2011. Alternatively please do forward this letter onto those who you think would be interested in this initiative.

On behalf of the initial working group,

Yours in Christ

Initial working group:

Stephen Seymour, Education management, community development, previously missions in Africa.
Sally Shaw, Masters Student, activate in Transition Town project, previously established community project in Cambodia.
Ruth Colman, English teacher, Editor and A Rocha newsletter distribution in Australia.
Mick Pope, Coordinator, Ethos Environment/Reviews Editor, Zadok Perspectives.
Steve Bradbury, Director Micah 6.8 Centre, Chair Micah Challenge International.