Joy into Action

Martin Davis of Cheltenham Christian Ecology Link writes:

During my walking on the Jakobsweg, I read Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium. I found it inspirational. The joy of the gospel, it begins, fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.

It’s a long document – more like a book actually: but don’t let that put you off reading it. Because it’s informally written and well-translated – and full of good stuff. One passage I particularly liked was this: An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters.

I was reminded of this when Mary Colwell came to Cheltenham last night, to speak at one of our regular, if infrequent, Christian Ecology Link meetings. Her title was “Surprised by Joy, Impatient for Change”. We heard more about the first part than the second, but no matter. For one evening at least it was possible to be an environmentalist and not a killjoy.

What is joy? Mary began by asking, besides being one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Not the same as happiness! Do animals experience joy? Hard to say, but perhaps it’s through nature alone that we can be truly surprised by joy. Sylvia Earle talks of discovering it when “dancing” deep in the oceans with an octopus: Mary herself, sitting on a Cornish beach, en-joyed a seal popping up amid the breaking waves. For her, it brought to mind the thought voiced by former slave, George Washington Carver: God speaks to us every hour about nature if we’ll only tune in.

But John Muir was the figure who dominated the talk: even among the environment-minded, he is little spoken of. Born in Scotland in 1838, one of seven children of staunchly Presbyterian parents, he moved with the family to the United States, where they set up a frontier farm. Seeing the destruction brought to the wilderness by the advance Westwards, he became its advocate, his campaigns bearing fruit within the National Parks system.

Everywhere John Muir looked, he saw God, and joy in nature motivated him to wonder – and to act, in order to protect forests, rivers and birds. He died in 1914, the same year as Martha, the very last of the passenger pigeons whose fate he so much lamented.

For Muir as for us, joy isn’t a passive emotion: it arouses a sense of injustice, and makes you want to do something: most people are on the world, Muir wrote: not in it… touching, but separate… I must get out into the mountains to learn the news.

In his “Surprised by Joy”, C.S. Lewis says, Joy is never in our power, and pleasure often is; so if, in the face of adversity, we suffer a defeat, then we can never lose faith in humanity – just pick ourselves up for the next battle.

This is take, with thanks,  from Martin Davis blog
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Operation Noah, not Operation Ragnarok

Westley Ingram connects his recent action against fossil fuel sponsorship to Operation Noah’s disinvestment campaign.

Hugh Warwick

Photo: Hugh Warwick

On a recent Sunday when I might have been on my way to a Church service I instead played dress up with the very excellent Reclaim Shakespeare Company as we staged a performance in opposition to BP’s sponsorship of the British Museum’s Vikings Live exhibition.  Some of you may feel that the British Museum is a temple to plunder and so it is entirely appropriate that BP (one of the worlds greatest environmental criminals and whose business model is incompatible with life on earth as we know it) should have its name attached.  Nevertheless the British Museum is a much loved and respected institution and by sponsoring the museum to the tune of some small fraction of one percent of it’s total funding BP can appropriate some of this esteem and hope to distract from it’s core activities.

It must be hard to reckon on the value of a picture of the British Museum coming up after Googling British Petroleum rather than the Gulf of Mexico’s oil black sea birds or the remains of the Arctic or the raping and pillaging of Alberta for Tarsands.  Whatever the value of it, BP pays £10 Million from it’s annual profits counted in the Billions.

The performance itself told a story of Ragnarok, the Norse tale of the end of the world where violence and corruption lead to the rising of the waters so the land is no more.  Three BP branded Vikings pillage where they want for oily plunder.  The Norse god Loki, the god of deceit, offers to cast a spell of greenwash over the public and to marry their brand with the great palaces of culture of this country.  Pillaging ensues until other Norse gods intervene: rebuking Loki and warning of the coming Ragnarok.  Loki relents and lifts his greenwash spell allowing the onlooking mortals to expel the Vikings of BP.

All very appropriate as we also face the rising of the waters as the result of violence and corruption.  Also relevant as the CEL has such close links to Operation Noah.  Operation Noah harks back to another ancient tale of rising waters being the result of the ills of mankind.  One of the main differences between the story of Ragnarok and Noah’s Ark is that one tells of the future end of history where the other tells of a long past new beginning.

Noah learns that the problems of humanity were not solved in the flood.  Humanity’s willingness to spill blood will be a fact of life but he is told that every act of violence, every drop of spilt blood will be accounted for.  This speaks to the position we the Church find ourselves in.  Climate change and rising sea levels are not the fulfilment of God’s plan on Earth as some erroneously report.  Rather, the fulfilment of God’s revelation we consider to be the person of Jesus Christ and most graphically his death on a Cross.  The followers of Jesus Christ are expected to follow the example of a man who taught that you cannot serve both money and God, that in order to lay peaceful hands upon the new life he spoke of we first must give up our old life.  His response to our apres-deluvian predicament was to non-violently resist the manifestations of this destructive impulse and was executed for it.  If it was inevitable that blood would be spilled then it would be his.

We all face a very difficult future as climate change continues to worsen.  Those of us committed to the way of the Cross will have to learn how to resist the principalities and powers of the world as Jesus taught us.  Presently one of our greatest concerns is the business model of fossil fuel companies like BP and their apparent legitimacy.  I personally would prefer to do this as part of a Church that had disinvested from these companies.  The Church is not only implicated in the blood spilt by these companies but it whitewashes them with its investment no less than the British museum greenwashes BP’s besmirched public image.

Want to do something?

Watch a 3-minute video of the Reclaim Shakespeare Company performance and sign the petition asking the British Museum to end their sponsorship deal with BP here.

Sign a petition asking the your church to disinvest from fossil fuels:

to the Church of England here

to the Methodist Church here

to the Church of Scotland here

to the Church of Wales here


Posted in Action, Climate Change, Energy, News, Take Action | Leave a comment

CEL Annual Members Meeting 22 Nov 2014

CEL will hold its AMM on 22 November 2014 at St Aloysius Church, 20 Phoenix Road, Euston, London

Details will follow.

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Bicycle v Motorised Transport Race for World Environment Day

CEL member John Guillebaud is orgnising an event on world Environment Day (5 June). It is a competition between cyclists (himself on a Brompton.. and friends)  a runner and motorised transport

It is to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Environment Time Capsule, Kew Gardens, Thursday 5th June 2014 from 1630.  See

The competition is to demonstrate the viability of travel by bike, the most sustainable mode of transport, also to raise funds for Population Matters It will be a race: John Guillebaud on his Brompton (supported by other cyclists) with his son Dr Chris Guillebaud & others running the distance against travellers by car and underground, between Margaret Pyke Centre London and Kew Gardens (Elizabeth Gate). Others can join in using whatever is their own choice of transport, or cheer us on along the way. The Margaret Pyke Centre was where Professor John Guillebaud worked in family planning, with sustainability as a motive.  As he says, for the environment contraceptive Pills are just like bicycles (OK…’despite being not much good to get you from A to B – and the latter may be a bit cumbersome in the bedroom!’). Indeed to make the point back in 1994, he put a packet of Pills into the time capsule.
John’s Justgiving page is called, appropriately: !

Prof John Guillebaud is Emeritus Professor of Family Planning and  and wrote an article for CEL in 2008   You can see his TEDx talk here: in which he points out that population is the main driver (influencer) on all the planetary boundaries that are being exceeded: – climate change, loss of biodiversity, soil loss etc. And he cares that it should be voluntary and that women should be given the choice and facilities to make their choices.

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ecocell Workshop 24th January 2015

Planning is underway for the next ecocell workshop on Saturday 24th January 2015

details will follow

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Does every little help?

If everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little. We must do a lot. 

David MacKay in Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air

recycling at airportWhile walking through Gatwick airport the other day – to stay at a hotel close to my trial in Brighton, not to fly, I must add – I noticed that airports now have recycling bins.  I found this both amusing and depressing and it set me thinking.  Do the headquarters of coal mining companies have low energy light bulbs?  Do the manufacturers of cluster bombs pride themselves in their health and safety? I guess the question is: does every little help?

From a moral or religious standpoint, doing the right thing is the right thing to do.  So recycling a newspaper while boarding a plane is still a good thing.  Or using washable nappies instead of Pampers on our third child.  Doing small things that lessen our carbon footprint are virtuous activities, but they must not blinker us to reality.  Getting on a plane or having a third child are both wildly unsustainable activities.  We cannot make up for them by doing a bit of recycling, something I am sure the UK Airports Authority would like us to believe.

All the little things we do, like turning off taps and standbys and using our own shopping bags make virtually no difference to the world.  So why do we do them?  For me, it’s partly a religious decision, to choose ways of living that do less harm to God’s creation, however small the effect is, and also in some way to stand in solidarity with the earth and the people who will be affected by climate change.  In doing even minor things, we are demonstrating to the world, and to ourselves, that we care.

But we also want to make a difference, don’t we?  And what we mustn’t do is to allow feeling good about the small things we do to deflect us from doing things that matter.  And for me there is a religious motivation here too, to work to ‘serve and preserve’ what I believe to be God’s world.  So let’s encourage ourselves in our green journey!  If we are the sort of people who recycle and refuse shopping bags then we can also be the sort of people who consider our children’s future world when we choose our holiday destination, our energy supplier and the amount of meat and dairy in our diet.

And the biggest thing we can do is to work to transform our society from one that is demands destructive high carbon living to one that values the earth and our children.  Hope for the Future (, the campaign to bring climate change policy onto the agenda for the 2015 General Election, is a good place to start.

Posted in Action, Church Magazine, Climate Change, Take Action, Transport | 2 Comments

List of Articles in the E-journal section of Green Christian website

The e-journal is a new and developing publication on this website.
CEL’s printed magazine Green Christian has only 24-28 pages and there are only two issues per year. We receive too many articles  to include in our limited print space. We use the e-journal to include:

  1. - articles which are too long to print in GC
  2. - articles which fall outside of the theme of a particular issue of GC
  3. (- but not included in this list, book reviews-)

Enough is not enough when it comes to gratitude

Title Author Date added Added by
Enough is not enough when it comes to gratitude

John and Jill Smith 5.02.14  Jo
Enough is Enough – A short documentary film 5.02.14   Jo
Discerning the Holy Spirit in the Life of Creation

Dermot   A. Lane 19.3.12 Barbara
Has anyone seen a butterfly yet?

Peter Owen Jones 16.11.11 editor
Nuclear Generation of Electricity; Response to GC71

John Smith 16.11.11 editor
Plant: insect-friendly plants

Rosemary Richardson 16.11.11 editor
Sustaining Brampton 

by Revd Geoff Smith and Revd John Smith. 16.11.11 editor
World Population

John Moor 16.11.11 editor
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Help us at the CEL stall at Greenbelt 22-25 August – Kettering

Christian Ecology Link will be at the Greenbelt festival again this year, over the August Bank Holiday weekend. As you probably know, it’s going to be near Kettering this time. Are you planning to go? If so, would you like to help out on the CEL stall and have the opportunity to meet fellow CEL members?

In previous years there have been enough volunteers to have two people ‘on’ at once, which makes the job easier and more enjoyable. If you’re interested, contact Paul Bodenham ( No commitment is expected yet, but if you do respond, I’ll get back to you over the summer with more details.

We may be able to offer a complimentary ticket (day or weekend) to someone who is willing cover more than one two-hour slot each day. If you’d like to be considered for this, please say how much time you can offer.

Posted in Latest, Take Action | Tagged | 1 Comment