Notes from “On the Road Together – Derby Sept 2018”

Chris Walton leads a discussion at Derby

Chris Walton leads a discussion at Derby

Anne Parker  (with photos by Sheila Pentelow) tells of the Green Christian  On the Road Together Day at Derby:

The Meeting was held at Friends Meeting House Derby. Saturday 15/9/18.

There were about 24 of us. Derby Friends’ Meeting House was a pleasant building with a positive atmosphere, possibly due both to years of Quaker meetings and to those present that day.

The meeting was part of the Joy in Enough project of Green Christian, formed about three years ago. People had come from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, but also an impressively large group from Lichfield – about half of those present

The meeting was led by Paul Bodenham and Chris Walton. The opening question, from Paul, was, “What is a Green Christian way of life?” ‘Living Lightly on the Earth’ is not just a Christian initiative.

There are signs of similar activities cropping up everywhere, but these rarely get the headlines.

The title Joy in Enough had been deliberately chosen to show that ‘enough’ need not equate with meanness or scarcity. It is opposed to our dysfunctional economy which we  need to recognize; the narrative of our dominant culture which constantly speaks of doom and gloom and tells us we will do better with ‘economic growth’ or how well we are doing with the ‘creation of new jobs’ (while omitting to tell of jobs lost).

Enough’ can be interpreted as ‘flourishing’ and not mean an economy that is unjust and destructive to most people and the planet. We can enjoy an economy of joy if we can realize, then avoid our present obsession with winning, being top, and overcome the great contradiction of ‘no limits’ to what we can do or have.

We are formed by our environment and the environment is formed by our choices, not just those thrust upon us as if there are no alternatives. Ask who or what is behind the headlines. Do we believe these headlines and who or what is causing them?  Or are we silently complicit in what is happening and in what we are told?

Repentance and confession to God would involve a declaration like the Ash Wednesday Declaration on the Operation Noah Website when church leaders signed up to halt climate change.  We need to make vocal declarations and go on to lead pilgrimages away from unsustainability.

‘Now’ is a conversion moment, a Kairos, God’s word to humanity.

Discussion group at Derby

Discussion group at Derby

Chris Walton, speaking in his turn said ‘we have made the tenets of our faith complicit with the dominant culture’. And we need to realize this, to hear it and pass it on.

A gospel economics would involve

  • Transforming our economic system and regulating consumerism
  • Capping carbon emissions
  • Promoting global justice through churches and congregational links.
  • Perhaps by adopting a ‘doughnut economics’. Realizing we have limitations and planning to live ‘within the doughnut’. That is a steady circular economy not linear and limitless

Partnership networks like Transition Towns might be one way forward – (No that is “thoughtless linear thinking” -) might be an optional alternative

And we need to repent of using schools as merely places of rationality with no space for children (or their teachers) to develop their artistic or spiritual attributes. Chris in his usual way gave many illustrations or little narratives, including the fact that time after time the children who go to Ringsfield Hall Eco Activity Centre, say that the best part for them was the sheer silence. We are all noise polluted now.

In the afternoon we were introduced to a newly forming system called ‘Plenty which is a way of learning of people – and there are many of them – who do not have plenty due to current employments policies and decreasing social support in times of poor health, leading to anxiety, depression and family breakdown. The purpose of this afternoon was to find ways of dialogue and discussion as if round in a café. What also might be called a level playing field, not hierarchical with the victim at the bottom, taking the blame for his or her disadvantages or injustices, but able to join in the dialogue, able to state their case.

We did not have time to do this scheme justice but it did begin to stretch our mind beyond the ‘always done it this way’ attitude.

It would be well worth going to such a day again and I can recommend it to those yet to do so, particularly as Joy in Enough goes regional.


The last Green Christian On the Road Day this year is at Bristol on 6 October

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