Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Denial 101x

While I'm meant to be blogging through Forest Church, I've been distracted by a few things. The first is a book chapter I have to finish on eco-theodicy and eco-eschatology (more on this in another post). But I also want to recommend a MOOC (Massive open online course) through Edx, entitled Denial 101x.

This course is run through the MOOC site Edx from the University of Queensland and includes John Cook of Skeptical Science, a well run blog that counters climate science myths from denialists. It will look at the psychology of denial as well as countering common denialist arguments. Well worth a look. I've started it today.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Inside out worship with Forest Church

I've started to read the US edition of this book, contemplating how I might start a Forest Church locally. One of the things that Bruce Stanley notes in chapter 1 is how we've shut up worship inside. Nature is associated with thin places, places where we meet the transcendent. These can also be called liminal spaces.

Of course, this is a book on experiencing the divine in nature, but straight away some might wonder about special revelation and how this can happen anywhere. While I fully support the idea of the reenchantment of nature (well of creation), the first few pages risk slipping into primitivism.

Perhaps gathering is more efficient than agriculture (I can't verify this), but gathering won't support anything like our global population - so is the account an historical account of agriculture or a thinly veiled critique? Likewise, it's unhelpful to picture indigenous North Americans or Australians purely as gatherers, presumably to set this up as the ideal, embedded in nature, simply because it isn't true. Get your facts straight by trying to see beyond your ideology; helpful corrective or not.

Gathering might in general be more robust to climate shocks, but it is natural change that forced or helped humans into agriculture. We may have moved through a period of poor nutrition in that shift - but it will be all the poorer if we went back. What I'm saying is that there is a difference between societal progress and spiritual progress. If a return to our place in nature is what is needed spiritually as well as for our physical survival, it can't, won't and should be the same as making an entirely physical return, unless we all want to be entirely open to the elements and predators. There is safety behind doors that is entirely desirable. 

It might be true too that a view of God changes from a gather's milieu to a farmer's one. But that doesn't mean viewing nature purely as enemy, as much as our crops etc need protecting from it. The Israelites saw this in two ways. Firstly, the valuing of wilderness as special to God (Psalm 104). Secondly, the Sabbath rest for land (agricultural) and the allowing of wild animals to benefit from that (wildnerness).

What I'm saying is that making sacred spaces and finding them in nature are not opposed. It's just that the later is profoundly neglected in many Christian circles. Genesis 1 tells us all space is sacred. Working that out in different contexts will form part of working out what Forest Church will mean here in Melbourne.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A climate of hope on air

Ok so I've been slack but have lots to write shortly. Working on a book chapter contribution (more on this soon), but for the moment lots of promoting my book A Climate of Hope with Claire Dawson. last night we were on Ecofaith on the air with Jason John and Miriam Pepper. I think we're slowly settling into the program, which is set as being a panel on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

Apparently half the show wasn't recorded :( but what does exist is found here.

We also launched our book officially at the Surrender conference. I got to talk a bit about the book on Sunday Nights with John Cleary, audio here.

Here's a wonderful pic from the launch.

On the left is Sharmila, who interviewed us here but who also wrote a conclusion for us. Next is the amazing Jarrod McKenna, peace activitist, Jesus justice junkie and all round good guy who wrote the intro. Then there's Claire and myself and finally Gabriel from UNOH who proof read the book, made some important comments and has made a lot of things happen. Sadly Les who did the layout and is working on the e-book didn't make the photo.

Claire and I will be at the Justice conference this weekend, sadly not speaking, but will hopefully have a few books on hand if you are there and want a copy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ecofaith on the air

My friend Jason John and Miriam Pepper have started a new local radio program once a fortnight on 2BBB called Ecofaith on the air. It's a 1 hour time slot where a panel discusses the interaction between faith and ecology. I was on the first program last night with Jason, Miriam Pepper from National Church Life Survey (NCLS) and Jacqui Remond from Catholic Earth Care.

The frequency is 93.3 FM on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, live streaming on, and podcast on soundcloud at There is also a Facebook page and a webpage

On the 15th of April, Claire Dawson and I will be on discussing our book A Climate of Hope: Church and Mission in a warming world, see