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Making Peace with the Earth 

Fascinating and disparate collection of 18 essays from activists, theologians and faith-based organisations around the world to encourage advocacy for climate justice

MakingPeaceMaking Peace with the Earth - Action and Advocacy for Climate Justice
Edited by Grace Ji-Sun Kim (ed)
WCC Publications, Geneva, 2016
Reviewed by Alec Gilmore

An alternative title might have been Earth is Our Home, the subheading for Chapter 7 (One Earth, One Sea, One Sky). Our Home suggests Our Family, and that thread unravelled a rather disparate collection of 18 essays for the cognoscenti and wove a fascinating product for us all.

Think of a very diverse family all home for Christmas and finding themselves sharing experiences on the environment and climate change — how things look from their perspective. Strictly 'what-is', not 'what-should be'. All sound and sensible, as comforting as a hot water bottle as they turn in for the night.

Next day is very different (Chapters 8-15). Another wing of the family has arrived and puts a few spanners in the works as the discussion moves on from 'Faith' to 'Faith in Action'. What has to be done, where, with what resources and what consequences 'to protect Our Home for our children'. Not to mention those uncles, cousins and aunts who, if we don't take action soon, will one day simply disappear into the ocean as the waters rise?

A German-born 'uncle', pastor of the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland, with experience in Asia, Africa and Europe, reminds us of family members with whom we have little contact, don't know too well and some we don't even like. A Korean 'cousin' (a woman minister) alerts us to damage already done by other members of the family, citing the loss of basic Korean values thanks to North American concentration on a one-dimensional approach to salvation. A Production and Management Engineer from Crete goes for 'sustainable living' with big common problems that affect us all, such as deforestation, poverty and climate change. 

A family of four from Westphalia, well ahead of the pack, tries to shift the debate from who is, or is not, pulling their weight to focus on protecting Our Home and respecting what each can bring to the debate. Then, just as the party is coming to an end, in drops an elderly Indian 'aunt', a Roman Catholic married to a German pastor, with her paintings to give a quite different view of creation (Our Home) as a stimulus to re-thinking our whole way of life.

Finally, a USA minister recalls her Korean childhood, playing in the madang — a Korean term for a kind of open air 'family room' (think quad, village green or village pub) outside a traditional Korean home, where family and friends gather to rest, talk, share and engage with each other before going through the door into their own territory. In our post-Council-of-Churches world, maybe the churches could grab the initiative to create a local madang? Who knows?

The first step of learning how to live as an international, interfaith community might lead on to bigger things, such as sharing common days and celebrating common achievements, with the odd nudge for the difficult 'uncle' who always has his own way of holding things up.

One Earth, One Sea, One Sky may always be beyond the horizon, but the madang could at least help us on the way.


The Revd Alec Gilmore is a Baptist minister

Baptist Times, 16/09/2016
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