Grieving the Earth as prayer: A wounded speech that heals

Article published for The Ecumenical Review‘s volume ‘Christ’s Love in the Midst of Pandemic‘.

You can read it here (if you can’t access it, send me a note and I’ll send you the PDF). With thanks to Simon Oliver, Carmody Grey, Caleb Gordon, Oana Marian, and Stephen Brown for their thoughtful comments and suggestions.

Abstract

‘The COVID‐19 pandemic is not so much a new kind of crisis as our most recent reminder of the dysfunction of human relations with the world we inhabit. This article argues that transforming our relations with other creatures begins with an examination of the call to be human: understanding the kind of creature we are and therefore how to live alongside other creatures with natures distinct from our own. It critiques the tendency to overemphasize human distinctiveness (anthropocentrism) or creatureliness (biocentrism, ecocentrism) to the detriment of our interpretations of human nature. Employing Jean‐Louis Chrétien’s phenomenology of prayer as wounded speech, it proposes that climate/ecological grief mediates the tension of our distance from and intimacy with other creatures. Speech expressing grief over the world therefore re‐embeds humans in our finitude and contingency while nevertheless treating human nature as containing a particular call to participate in Christ’s transforming work.’

Song of forgiveness

Sermon on Genesis 45, preached at Cranmer Hall, 10th December 2020.

When I was very small, the story of Joseph was my brother’s favourite Bible story – and not for the reasons you think. After I was born, his little world – where all affection and attention belonged to him – was shattered, and he became very attached to the idea of sibling disposal: if you don’t like them, throw them away. He would often ask his friends, the rubbish men, if they could take me away with the bin bags, and was particularly keen on finding a large pit to put me in. Let this be a warning to the parents among us who think bible stories are helpful moral lessons for young minds. You never know which characters they might find sympathetic. 

My brother was only two years old when I arrived, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not getting to the end of the Joseph story. If he had, he might have realised that it’s harder to get rid of your siblings than you might think. In this passage we are confronted with the hard question of what happens when we encounter those who have wounded us, or those we have wounded. As many of us will be painfully aware, those old hurts and sins that we wish to hide often appear again, unbidden. And when that happens, we are confronted with our own weakness, and our longing for peace. 

An insightful Russian once observed that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and we’ve been journeying with this particular cocktail of favouritism, deception, violence, and bitterness for weeks. We’ve arrived at chapter 45, the big reveal of the Joseph story. We’ve been sitting with the dramatic irony of knowing who Joseph is while his brothers don’t, cringing as he walks them through repeated tests. In chapter 42 and 43 we imagined the brothers’ nausea as they first find the money placed into the top of their sacks, and their 20-year-old guilt re-emerges as fear. Then in chapter 44, they find the cup, and we grapple with the genuinely creative revenge Joseph takes; where once his brothers chose between living with an irritating show-off or selling their brother into slavery, Joseph forces them to choose between starvation or once again making their little brother Benjamin a slave. 

But now, finally, all is made clear, and after the gradual build-up of many chapters, in this chapter mysteries are revealed, brothers reconciled, and loose ends resolved – as well as some theological commentary. You’ll be relieved to hear that in this sermon I don’t plan to offer an in-depth exposition on the doctrine of God’s providence, or on the nature of free will. But I do plan to come back to it at the end. Well – I plan to, but who knows what God has planned.

That was just a little providence joke for you. Let’s hope God doesn’t make me do that again.

Our passage this evening opens at the height of the drama: Judah has been pleading for Benjamin’s release, and when he invokes the name of their father it is finally too much for Joseph. He suddenly cries for the room to be emptied, leaving the brothers alone in front of the man who holds their family’s future in his hands – who can utter words of freedom or condemnation – who can forgive them for having the cup or can refuse to hear their sorrow. Little do they know yet the extent to which they owe this stranger their repentance and plea for forgiveness. 

‘Joseph’ – even when the brothers hear him say his name, they are unable to answer. As we read verse 3, I imagine an awkward, horrible silence falling. Is this another trick? What’s more likely: that this wailing Egyptian governor is their dead brother, or that somehow he has found out what they did and is trying to frighten them with their past? Is this a ghost? But no – this is their brother, the one they betrayed, abandoned, and sold. And he is standing in front of them surrounded by his own armed guards and sobbing out a monologue. The brothers are noticeably quiet for most of this passage – they are not directing events. This is not a mutual exchange of stories. They are in Joseph’s hands. Perhaps caught up in the rush of relief that has come from revealing himself, or perhaps used to speaking and not being spoken to, Joseph directs the conversation. No doubt his brothers are still frightened. At any minute Joseph would be well within his rights to turn on them: a nagging anxiety that, as we find out later in the story, rests with them for years to come. In these chapters we’ve watched Joseph try to work out reconciliation in real time. And what we have discovered is that his capacity for forgiveness is deeply flawed. He has been torn between tears of longing and the pull of power. Betrayed by his brothers, he has betrayed them. And it is only when he has been convinced of real repentance that he is willing to reconcile.  

Joseph, like all of us, is a product of his family – of the things he has been taught are normal. Truly his father’s son, even in this moment of reconciliation he still shows favouritism to Benjamin, whom he embraces first in verse 14, and who gets three hundred pieces of silver and more garments than the others in verse 22. And the effects of these limitations in this moment of reconciliation are real. For the purpose of this sermon series we’re treating this chapter as a sort of ending, with some kind of closure offered – but the book of Genesis continues to follow Joseph and his family for several chapters. In chapter 50, following the death of their father, it turns out that even after seventeen years in Egypt Joseph’s brothers do not know whether they are forgiven. Joseph has never said it. In chapter 50 verse 17, they tell Joseph they have a dying message from their father – that he begged Joseph to forgive his brothers. Either this means that their father has carried this wound his entire life, or the brothers – even at this stage – feel they have to manipulate Joseph in order to mend the relationship. My siblings in Christ, let us hear this as a warning. If there are people in your life with whom you have cautiously reconciled, but have not exchanged words of repentance and forgiveness, do so. Do not imagine that time will simply cover over those hurts. 

Of course, the way Joseph behaves is understandable, and what’s more, it’s believable. Despite his knowledge of God’s faithfulness, he is still wounded. Despite his power as advisor to Pharaoh, he is still the little brother who was rejected. Despite the longing to reconcile, he and his brothers are strangers now, and that can never be fully undone. In Joseph, we see the hurt, anger, and longing for healing that we recognise in our wounds. And in the brothers, we see the shame, regret, and fear that we recognise from the times we have wounded others. We know that we must forgive, and receive forgiveness, and yet there are so many things that limit our hope to do so: abuses of power, bitterness, fear, regret, shame. 

It is all too easy for us to confuse our experience of forgiveness with the forgiveness promised in the reconciling love of God. We imagine that because we are begrudging, and cautious, and limited, that God responds to us the same way. But while we might identify with Joseph’s flawed forgiveness, it is not like the forgiveness that we receive from God. My ability to forgive is like trying to hum a beautiful song I heard played by an orchestra, years ago – I am faint and faltering and I get notes wrong. But if I listen to the song again, and again, and again, my voice will strengthen, and grow more confident, and the notes will fall into place. But I will still not be able to recreate that triumphant, transcendent sound. My hum will never be an orchestra. As I pay attention to God’s forgiveness I can learn to better forgive, but my understanding of forgiveness will never be the same as God’s, and I mustn’t confuse the two. In Joseph, we see a longing to sing a song of reconciliation, and glimpses of its melody shine through. But it is a faint rendition of the song to which we are invited and will one day be able to sing fully: 

Joseph, the brother and lord, was tempted by his power, and used it to his own ends. But Jesus, our brother and our Lord, gave up power to dwell amongst us. 

Joseph sees that his brothers do not recognise him and hides his face from them, in order to trick them and test them. But Jesus knows us before we know him and does not hide his face from us or trick us. He reveals himself to us. 

Joseph’s willingness to reconcile with his brothers relies on evidence of their repentance. But our Lord and brother does not wait for us to come to him. He comes to meet us. 

Joseph invites his family to live nearby, though they are kept at arm’s length, forgiveness unspoken, anxiety lurking. But the welcome we are given is not just a nearby dwelling place. Jesus brings us into the presence of the Father, where we will dwell forever. Where our sins and hurts will not just be unspoken but removed, wiped away, forgotten. 

In just a few weeks, we celebrate once again that mystery of His coming to meet us, which is a mystery of a love we cannot understand – that God gives up power to be with us. That God does not hide his face but reveals it willingly. That God does not keep us at a distance but comes as close as can be – even into the womb, into the manger, into the arms of humans in order that heaven’s arms might be opened to us.

I said at the beginning that I would talk about Joseph’s brief commentary on God’s providence at work in his life: in verse 7 he reassures his brothers that ‘it was not you who sent me here, but God’ – ‘to preserve life’, and to ‘preserve for you a remnant on earth’. God, Joseph insists, has been at work all along. And yet we know from Joseph’s suspicion and woundedness that he doesn’t really believe that his brothers are guiltless or were just helplessly compelled by divine instruction. 

How do these hold together? In this Advent season I want to offer you this passage as a reminder that God’s providence and the free will we are given are both completely, mysteriously true – for Joseph, and for you too, amidst all the hurt you have received, and the hurt you have caused. And they are both completely true because this providence and this free will are both an outpouring of the love of God, who invites us to act, and love, and forgive, and at the same time enters with the greatest possible intimacy into the broken heart of this world: to become one of us, to transform the future we are promised, and to preserve life – and not just preserve it, but restore it, renew it, and offer it to us in all its fullness. 

Like the brothers, we have failed and need forgiveness. Like Joseph, we have failed to forgive. But God does not meet us in the way we meet each other. God will never withhold forgiveness from you.

In the coming weeks, my prayer for you is that you once again hear and receive this song of God’s reconciling love. A song echoed by Mary, by angels, by shepherds, and sung in its fullness in the cry of the child, Emmanuel, who did not wait for us to seek him out but arrived suddenly, mysteriously, as our Prince of Peace.

Amen. 

Grief and the Church: Recent Conversations

Recently I’ve had the chance to have several (virtual) conversations with other thoughtful people about climate/ecological collapse, grief, and theology recently. Here are the details of where you can find them:

Everybody Now – ‘podmarch’ on climate breakdown produced by David Blower, also featuring Rowan Williams, Gail Bradbrook, Kevin Anderson, Damaris Albuquerque, and others

Staying With The Trouble – William Temple Foundation Podcast episode on climate grief with Tim Middleton and Tim Howles

A Rocha Canada – Alone in a World of Wounds conversation on eco-anxiety/grief and the Church, with Anupama Ranawana and Brent Unrau

Grief and Power

Talk given for Christian Climate Action’s ‘Climate and Colour’ webinar, which included leadership and reflections from Melanie Nazareth, Azariah France-Williams, Samantha Lindo, and Sarah-Jane Nii-Adjei. You can watch the full webinar here

The last 10 years has seen a sudden and rapidly growing interest in naming our experiences of climate breakdown, ecological collapse, and animal extinction. There has been an explosion in the number of people reporting grief, anxiety, and traumatic stress as a result of the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, the ongoing loss of flora and fauna, or a growing awareness of the existential threat that climate breakdown represents. Descriptions of this trauma only recently emerged in English, though they have a longer human history. For many of us involved in climate activism, there is a tipping point for knowledge about a dying world, where grief cannot be undone. I have reached that tipping point and cannot go back, no matter how much I try to guard myself against future exposure to the relentless cycle of bad news.

What does climate grief have to do with a conversation about racism and climate justice? Our desire for climate justice does not emerge directly from scientific findings about global average temperature, but from our response to those findings. We respond to a dying world out of love, and fear. Grief, anxiety, anger, melancholia – these are the trigger points. We assume these responses – often called emotions – are spontaneous, natural reactions to the world around us, and so we encourage each other to express them as a healthy way of coping, or even a spur to change. But our emotional responses are not all equally good, or equally true. We learn how to respond to the world based on our experiences. Our contexts shape our expectations and values, and thus our responses as well. Grief is learned behaviour. We are constantly learning what is worthy of our grief, and what is not, and whose grief matters more to us. The ways emotions are expressed in the climate movement are a mirror of our underpinning experiences of the world – and these are experiences filtered by our access to power.

In May, Nylah Burton published an article for Vice with the title ‘People of Colour Experience Climate Grief More Deeply Than White People’. She wrote: ‘anyone can experience climate grief, regardless of their identity. But for us, our grief – and our anger – is rooted in centuries of painful history, and the current ecological violence hurled at our communities’. She powerfully presents a case for climate grief as racialised, focusing on her experience as a woman of colour. The histories of colonialism, genocide, slavery, and systemic racism are intertwined with the history of the earth, and she points out that these two histories – these two griefs – cannot be disentangled for black and brown people.

If this is true, then it must also be true of whiteness – that our history of colonialism, genocide, the slave trade, and perpetuating white supremacy cannot be disentangled from how we feel about the earth now. The grief of white people over the death of the earth is as much shaped by our experiences and histories as it is for our black and brown siblings. It is incumbent on those of us who are the product and beneficiaries of white supremacy to examine our climate grief critically, carefully, with a desire to orient ourselves to God’s purposes for grief, rather than our own. This is not to say that the emotions of white people are somehow more innately marred by sin than the emotions of people of colour. Rather, it is to say that sin feeds on power. And we must be watchful.

In January, the world looked on in horror as bush fires across Australia spiralled out of control. Australians huddled on beaches as the sky turned to smoke and ash. 28 people died, 150 homes were destroyed, and there was devastating loss to wildlife. The images of burnt animal bodies stuck on barbed wire fences rightly triggered fear and disgust. People from across the globe sent outpourings of love, prayer, and donations, as they should. I lay awake at night, sleepless with dread, as I followed updates on the destruction. I prayed for rain. I have no Australian family and have never visited the country. But I felt compelled to participate in the groaning of Australian Earth.

In April, 80,000 people were displaced by heavy flooding in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 15,000 homes were destroyed, and we do not know exactly how many died. The province is home to nearly one million internally displaced people, a result of ongoing civil war, funded by slave labour mining which repeatedly and persistently destroys the earth and her creatures, human and non-human. Violence and poverty have driven the illegal bushmeat trade, with over a million tons of wild animals killed every year. The story of ecological destruction in that country is the story of technological wealth in the west. I have Congolese family members who arrived in the UK as teenage refugees and were cared for by my parents. The story of that country is part of the story of my family. And when I heard about the flooding, I felt a pang of shock, of sadness. I sent some money. And then I forgot about it.

Whose grief merits our attention?

I am not trying to directly compare the severity of events in Australia and the Congo, nor am I saying that it is inherently wrong to feel more grief for one than the other. We are finite creatures, who cannot and should not be expected to respond to every death in a dying world in the same way. Our social networks influence us to feel grief about something we hear more about, or events that feel more unusual. If grief is an expression of love, our grief takes on the shape of the places and creatures to whom we intimately belong. Our losses are particular – creatures, seasons and rhythms, futures, forests that we know, or feel connected to. This is not intrinsically sinful. But our feelings of grief are not just bound by space. They are racialised, politicised. We are taught – through exposure, through culture – to feel greater empathy for those with proximity to power, even while knowing that they have, in real, measurable terms, suffered less. Those places on the Earth where wounds are deeper, more intransigent, inextricably woven into history, are also those whose wounds are not grieved in public.

I think we are slowly beginning to acknowledge that the grief of some humans is heard, makes headlines, and provokes response more readily than others – and we are trying to make restitution for this. But we have yet to fully accept the ways whiteness also manifests in the content of our grief.

What do we grieve, and why?

Climate grief in the minority world – the predominantly white world – is often characterised by grief over the future. Again, this is not wrong in itself. People across the whole Earth share this fear for the wellbeing of their children, or grandchildren. But at least part of what we grieve is the loss of luxuries and possessions which we have only received as a result of violence: slavery, colonialism, neoliberal capitalism, our insatiable greed – the very sources of the destruction of the Earth have created the conditions whose loss we now mourn.

Perhaps you’re thinking no – you misunderstand – I’d happily give up those false comforts to create a sustainable future! I’m not grieving the loss of foreign holidays and new clothes, I’m grieving the collapse of civilisation, the death of the Earth! And I am sure that for many that’s true. But even our apocalyptic fears are racialised. We know, deep down, that we will not be on the wrong side of the sea walls which shut out climate migrants. We risk losing a stability that many people in the majority world have already had taken away, and which grows increasingly improbable in the future.

A related example of how whiteness shapes climate grief is in how easily we express despair. Climate doomerism in the minority world is a kind of hubris: this despair rests on the assumption that the future is known, and nothing can be done. Whiteness is founded on the assumption of a superior capacity for rule, seized through violence against land and people. We have imagined ourselves as the great problem solvers and architects of the earth. Perhaps we are now pricked by guilt at the cost of our position, but we still assume that our position is the one from which improvement, or even salvation, will emerge – that is, if it is to emerge at all. It should not surprise us that when we fail to prevent the continued assault on our fellow creatures, we struggle to imagine that an alternative other than destruction is possible. The growing dominance of despair narratives is a warning to us that our grief both reflects our power and wields it. As I sit in the heart of global wealth accumulation, I can picture the future and assume that I will live to see it. We are never the ones who die first. And, as those with greater proximity to power, our despair threatens the flourishing of others.

 And what about those emotions associated with climate activism that are not grief, or fear, or despair?

It is not just climate grief that participates in whiteness, but other emotions associated with activism. Unaccustomed to powerlessness, easily prone to despair, we seek the kind of emotional relief that can only be produced by feeling that we have sacrificed part of ourselves for the greater good. I have closely followed the stories of white activists experiencing euphoric peace and joy while getting arrested or sitting in the cell of a police station. Not fear, or anger, or sadness, but something akin to happiness in the midst of otherwise painful feelings of frustration and sorrow. I don’t think those feelings are intrinsically wrong, and I do not say this as a criticism of those who have been arrested – on the contrary, I am very grateful for the commitment you have made to climate activism, and I believe that white clergy in particular should be more willing to take that risk. But we must admit that such feelings – buoyed as they are by a relative lack of threat – are possible because of our proximity to power. Talking about those experiences as though they are universal – or even common – for encounters with law enforcement exposes the narrowness of the movement. More insidiously, it implies that sacrifice for the climate movement should be accompanied by peace and joy, as a mark of its holiness. But holiness is not and cannot be understood through the lens of whiteness.

 Our climate grief is a moral problem – a spiritual problem. If grief can wield dangerous power, it is not good enough to treat all of our feelings as simply ‘natural’, and therefore innately worthy of expression. The question of who grieves, and how, and what, is a question the Church must take seriously. We are, after all disciples of the man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief. But so long as we treat our grief (and especially grief rooted in our proximity to power) as innate, or natural, or above question, we will be unable to listen to our teacher. If, instead, we understand grief as learned behaviour, we can learn to follow Christ, who gave up power in order to dwell amongst us. We will not be guided by white supremacy’s desire for self-preservation, but by the One who blesses those who weep. If sin is manifest in our reactions as well as our actions, then, as the Apostle Paul instructs, let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds: to grieve with humility, not hubris.

 

 

Does a river have more in common with a bird or a rock?

In the name of PhD research, I recently conducted a highly scientific twitter poll. Here are the results:

Let’s put aside the brutal (and wrong) percentage of people who thought the second poll was made up of bad questions. In the first poll most people answered that nature is not even a bit like a machine, or vice versa. But in the second poll, the majority of people identified a river more closely with a bird, and a rock more closely with a machine. Perhaps this is because a river moves, and a rock doesn’t. But does that mean that the respondents think a river is more alive than a rock? The next question – and the one I didn’t ask – is the title of this paper: is a river more like a bird or a rock? And how do we interpret our varied feelings of relatedness to different forms of existence we identify in the world, whether organic or not? Is a bird more valuable than a rock? Is a river more valuable than a rock if we believe it is more like a bird? What about a big rock – a mountain? Is it ‘being alive’ that matters? Or something else?

In The Phenomenon of Life, Hans Jonas understands ‘nature’ as characterised by a fundamental capacity for life rather than being predisposed to its absence. It therefore possesses inherent freedom and dignity. This fundamental capacity for life is the basis for his ethics of responsibility toward nature: our moral relations emerge out of our affinity to all other life, and our moral responsibility towards life is a product of the asymmetry of those relations (all life is free, but human life has the greatest capacity for freedom). His project seeks to collapse the distinction between matter and mind by identifying the shared attributes of all living things. This is compelling. But I am interested in whether this is sufficient for understanding human connection to inorganic existence, and especially how we respond to its loss (for example, the destruction of a mountain or the permanent loss of a glacier). I want to test applying Jonas’ account of organic life as free and therefore having value to all existence to create a framework for interpreting our creaturely relations. Based on Jonas’ claim that the body is the site of knowledge, our experiences provide a basis for proposing that the ‘free’ characteristics of individuality and change in organic life can also be applied to inorganic existences.

Jonas argues that inorganic existence is not made up of ‘individuals’ as organic existence is. He proposes that individuals are entities whose ‘being is their own doing’.[1] Jonas presents the independence of organic existence as a contrast to a solely materialist reading of the world, in which this kind of independence cannot exist. The claim of independence makes room for Jonas to introduce the idea of ‘self’ at the most basic level of life. The emergence of ‘self’, Jonas says, means the emergence of ‘internal identity’ and ‘self-isolation… from all the rest of reality’.[2] In the capacity for independence, life also discovers the necessity of constantly reasserting its own being. Jonas finds the presence of germinal freedom in the capacity to continue to struggle to be (at the most basic level, this is metabolism). In his essay Biological Foundations of Individuality, Jonas makes a similar argument: individuals are entities whose ‘being is their own doing’.[3] A river is not an individual – nor is a mountain – because mountains and rivers do not express a ‘need for constant self-renewal and thus a need for the matter required in that renewal, and thus need for ‘world’’.[4] The organism is not indifferent to its fate (and by extension Jonas is arguing that a mountain or river is).

Inorganic existence is, for Jonas, indifferent, not dependent, not dynamic – inorganic existence does not continually perform its own becoming, and so does not perform its own history. It has no ‘selfhood’.[5] There are clear differences between organic and inorganic existence (perhaps most obviously that plants require air and nutrition to exist and stones do not). But ‘individuality’ is not a category with such strict lines. Mountains and rivers are, in some sense, individuals. We name them. We draw lines which declare that this is where one mountain begins and that is where another mountain ends. We recognise that they shape and are shaped by their environments.

Defining why forms of inorganic existence can lay claim to individuality can be done by considering the consequences of not treating a river or a mountain (or a glacier, volcano, etc) as having some claim to the status of ‘individual’ – (and therefore accepting that these forms have some degree of freedom accompanying their status). As an example, let’s talk about the Mississippi River.

Picture 3

Geological map of the River Mississippi’s ancient courses, 1944

Beginning with the early 18th century settlement of New Orleans, attempts to control the direction and height of the river using levees has created ongoing tension between the needs of human communities living along the river (and 41% of the population of the United States) and the river’s natural trajectory. As gravity encourages the Mississippi down the Atchafalaya riverbed to the Gulf of Mexico, human interests divert water into the Mississippi using floodgates and upriver defences. If/when the river floods enough that these defences fail (that is, if/when the river returns to its desired course) the resulting destruction of human communities will be devastating. In his 1987 New Yorker essay, [6] John McPhee tracks the attempts made by humans to control the flow of the river, treating it as a water system to be managed rather than an ‘individual’ with direction:

‘(The industries) had come for its navigational convenience and its fresh water. They would not, and could not, linger beside a tidal creek. For nature to take its course was simply unthinkable… Nature, in this place, had become an enemy of the state.’[7]

McPhee describes the Atchafalaya (the Mississippi River’s natural trajectory), ‘this most apparently natural of natural worlds’ as lying ‘between walls, like a zoo. It is utterly dependent on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose decisions at Old River can cut it dry or fill it with water and silt.’[8] But if the river were not shaping and being shaped by its environment, one might imagine that one-off management would be sufficient: the river could be ‘coded’ to behave a certain way, and its behaviour would then be predictable. But a river is an individual in ways a machine is not. The Mississippi continues to pursue its natural/desired course, even while transformed by human intervention. It is arrogant to treat individuals – even inorganic ones – as if their behaviour can entirely be brought under human control. The shift in attempts to manage the river also shifts human relating to it. Once a river is treated as a system which can be controlled, expectations of its behaviour begin to change too:

‘When there were no control structures, naturally there were no complaints. The water went where it pleased. People took it as it came. The delta was in a state of nature. But now that Old River is valved and metered there are two million nine hundred thousand potential complainers… when farmers want less water, for example, fishermen want more, and they all complain to the Corps.’

Interestingly, however, language treating the river (or nature) as a kind of ‘individual’ still emerges in the rhetoric of those trying to control the river – those trying to deindividualise it. In a film made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi is an ‘opponent’: ‘we are fighting Mother Nature. . . It’s a battle we have to fight day by day, year by year; the health of our economy depends on victory.”’[9] The river is the enemy to be conquered – a conquered river no longer changes, no longer makes history, is no longer free.

Jonas’ schema helps us interpret the deindividualization of the Mississippi: according to Jonas, a lack of change is a lack of life. Attempts to keep the River Mississippi in stasis is to claim that it does not possess the attribute of life – that it has more in common with a machine than an animal. This goes against the grain of experience. Natural entities like rivers have, for most of human history, been attributed characteristics – our experience of them offers us knowledge about what they are. In her essay titled The Site of Memory, Toni Morrison compares the experience of the writer with the River Mississippi – the river, like the writer, remembers, seeks to return to its original place. She writes that ‘what is happening when the water comes over the banks is not flooding… it is remembering, remembering where it used to be. Water has ‘a perfect memory’, ‘forever trying to get back where it was’. [10]

If Jonas’ schema of life is applied here, it makes sense to say that assigning an understanding of individualityto a river assigns an understanding of life – or freedom – to it. This can be categorically true while not materially true: a river is not alive in the same way as an animal, but we treat both as free. In interpreting grief over the ‘death’ of a river, it makes sense that characteristics which cause us to grieve organic life are similarly assigned to inorganic existence. We acknowledge the different ways organic and inorganic creatures express the characteristic of freedom and grieve when that freedom is encroached. The Mississippi River has not been destroyed, but its freedom is constrained by industry. As free creatures with the capacity to express responsibility, the loss of freedom in other creatures –organic or inorganic – is a reminder of the loss of freedom for all.

The attributes of change and individuality are perhaps more obvious in a river than a rock or mountain (rivers move in ways visible to humans and usually change their contexts/are changed by their contexts more quickly). But, like rivers, mountains change – make history – independently of human making. We’d treat an artificially constructed mountain as ‘less alive’ than one which emerged without human intervention. We do not need to say ‘all things are biologically living’ in order to make sense of our experience. We can say that many (even all?) inorganic individuals exhibit the characteristics of freedom which Jonas values in organic life.

Does treating both organic and inorganic existence as free make theological sense? I think it does. If we believe we are creatures – that is, created – we believe something about the world which is extrinsic to a solely material description. And we also believe that our teleology is found in something extrinsic to material description – organic and inorganic forms of existence are all given as free (but contingent) creatures and are all moving towards complete freedom in God.

The word ‘creatures’ is a useful theological response to Jonas’ project. It undermines our linguistic division between humans and the rest of creation while allowing for the varied ways that we express creatureliness. It does not necessarily insist that a creature is biologically alive, but it implies a shared relatedness to a creator over and above relatedness to human making. Acknowledging this free – and contingent – creatureliness helps us understand our experiences of and attachment to both organic and inorganic creatures.

 

[1] Jonas, The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, 187.

[2] Ibid., 83.

[3] Hans Jonas, Philosophical Essays: From Ancient Creed to Technological Man (University of Chicago Press, 1974), 187.

[4] Ibid., 185.

[5] Ibid.

[6] John McPhee, ‘Atchafalaya’, The New Yorker (1987). The essay was later republished as John McPhee, The Control of Nature(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1989).

[7] McPhee, ‘Atchafalaya’ (1987).

[8] Ibid.

[9] McPhee, ‘Atchafalaya’, (1987).

[10] Toni Morrison, ‘The Site of Memory’, Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir (Houghton and Mifflin, 1995)

Writing in Lockdown

Some pieces I’ve squeezed out of my brain in lockdown:

Thought for the Day, BBC Radio 4 – Day before Palm Sunday, and the anniversary of the Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. You can listen to it here. 

‘Humans aren’t a virus, actually’ – for SCM Press. Attempt to take down ecofascistic theodicies via Maximus the Confessor. You can read it here.

‘Peace on Earth?’ – for Anglican Peacemaker Magazine. Article on the connections between climate breakdown and militarism, plus some theological reflection. You can read the most recent edition of the magazine here – my article is page 4.

Thought for the Day, BBC Radio 4 – Mental illness in lockdown and my local park. You can listen to it here.

Text version of the above TFTD is on the Greenbelt website, here.

 

Time To Act (an excerpt)

9780281084463Time To Act is a new resource book by Christian Climate Action, edited by Jeremy Williams – if you haven’t yet bought a copy, consider social distancing an excellent time to invest! I thought I’d share with you the first couple of paragraphs of my contribution to the collection. Hopefully they act as an encouragement for you to buy it rather than something that puts you off…

Life in the Shadow of Death

There is a tipping point for knowledge about a dying world, where grief cannot be undone. I have reached that tipping point and cannot go back, no matter how much I try to guard myself against future exposure to the relentless cycle of bad news. I hear a bird singing and my heart drops at the conspicuous absence of its fellow vocalists. Its tiny, dark, vibrating body becomes a fluttering point of hot, resistant life in a cold sky, stark in its loneliness against the white overhead. I walk through a planted Sitka forest and project human desires and fears and griefs on each temporary line of trees, rows of timber shooting up from the sterile ground in darkness and in silence.

In the 1940s, Aldo Leopold described one of the penalties of ecological education as living ‘alone in a world of wounds.’[1] In 1989, Bill McKibben preferred to walk in the woods in winter, ‘when it is harder to tell what might be dying.’[2] Come 2019, and Mary Heglar identifies ‘climate vision’ as the ability to see climate projections all around you – sudden flashes of rising seas, dead people, deserted communities.[3] Their grief expressions have all become vital mobilising responses to our crisis. But I have heard it said that people who work with the dying start to see death everywhere. I find myself in danger of flattening the state of the world, diagnosing even the healthy with death, those recovering with a terminal illness. Sometimes I wonder whether I can still hear and accept good news stories of species recovery, human repentance, and hopeful action, or whether the shadow of death will hang forever over every walk through the woods.

[1] Aldo Leopold, Round River (1966 edition), p.67.

[2] Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (1989), p.211.

[3] https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/33-all-climate-feels-season-finale-mary-annaïse-heglar/id1158028749?i=1000441855601

 

 

Water of Life

Sermon at St Paul’s Withington, 15th March 

It was a classic story of boy-meets-girl: the noon day sun, the arid heat, a well. A long time ago in a land far far away, Jacob, son of Isaac, went to a well to find his future wife, Rachel, son of Laban. It’s love at first sight. Even though it’s the wrong time of day for water gathering or sheep herding, there Rachel is, and on seeing her Jacob waters her sheep, kisses her, and bursts into tears. Is there a better compliment than someone actively weeping because of your beauty? Jacob then commits to working for Rachel’s dad for 14 years so that he can marry her. As I said, a classic love story. Or at least, it’s a classic love story for ancient Israel. After all, that’s how Jacob’s dad Isaac found his wife – his servant went to a well and waited for the right woman to show up with a water jar. Wells are places where new families are made.

In our gospel reading today, hundreds of years after Jacob met Rachel, Jesus shows up at the very same well, waiting in the noon day sun to speak to a woman who is in the right place at the right time. This is no accident. Jesus has chosen this well, at this time, in this place. How do we know he has chosen to be there? Just before the start of our reading today, we learn that Jesus was in Judea and travelling to Galilee. But, it says, he had to go through Samaria. There are two roads from Judea to Galilee. The road through Samaria is shorter, but more dangerous, since the Jews and the Samaritans represented broken off parts of the same historic family. They were enemies. Jesus didn’t have to go to Samaria for geographic reasons. Maybe he had to go to Samaria for a bigger reason – a more significant reason.

Sometimes I think we read the gospels with the impression that Jesus just wandered around in a relatively directionless way, without a clear plan as to where he was going or why. And certainly, there are encounters Jesus has which don’t seem to be part of an agenda or schedule he’s drawn up. But we also know that Jesus knew the places he was going – these were his people, after all. He knew the histories and heartbreaks and hopes of these towns – and made choices about places he went. He knew the weight of meaning behind a Jew going to Samaria. And he would have known, too, that he was standing at Jacob’s well.

So, what was he doing in Samaria? What point does this encounter want to make? You’d hope the point was a good one, because he’s gone to quite a lot of effort to make it. Why this woman, at this well? If Jesus is just going for the nice imagery of wells and water so that he can talk about himself as the water of life, there were plenty of wells in Judea and Galilee where he could have hung out instead, in the relative safety of his fellow Jews. And if he just wanted to make some point about talking to a woman (and a woman who was possibly an outsider, and definitely not a Jewish woman) in public, we know that Jesus found plenty of other opportunities to do that too. No, there’s something much more specific going on here. I think it makes sense to assume that, in going to Jacob’s well, Jesus knew precisely where he was, and was there on purpose.

The story of the Samaritans and Jews is a story about a broken family, split over their religious scriptures, birth lines, and the location of their worship. If you were here for my sermon a few weeks ago, you might recall me saying that for the people of Israel, mountains were places people go to do business with God. The question is – which mountain? While the Jewish people claim the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as the Chosen Place, the Samaritans claim Mount Gerizim, which would have loomed tall in the background of this encounter, a reminder of the fault line running deep between their people. Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian, records Jewish pilgrims being attacked on the very road Jesus has taken, Samaritans scattering bones to violate the holiness of the Jerusalem temple, and Jews burning down Samaritan villages. This isn’t something that can be fixed with mutual flourishing policies or ecumenical discussion groups. It makes sense, then, that the Samaritan woman says to him: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” And John clarifies, for the avoidance of doubt: ‘Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.’

But the Jews and the Samaritans shared Jacob as a common ancestor. There is a bit of irony in the Samaritan woman going on to ask Jesus: “Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well?” We can assume she is only referring to the Samaritans when she says ‘us’ – after all, she’s in Samaritan territory. But there is a deeper truth in her reference to ‘our’ and ‘us’: this is a well emerging from the shared history of the Jews and the Samaritans. If Jacob and Rachel’s family can begin here, perhaps this is a place where its brokenness can be restored and made whole, beyond what they or we can imagine.

And Jesus does indeed stretch her – and our – imagination. Not just in asking her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink – which is surprising enough and a serious violation of social and religious rules – but in telling her that really, she should be the one asking him for something. He says: “if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

She should ask for the gift of living water. Living water? How can water quench thirst forever, especially when you’re standing in the burning noonday sun, beads of sweat on your brow, with a heavy bucket to pull up and carry home? And how can water give eternal life? How can water beat death? Reasonable things to wonder, an her response in verse 15 also seems pretty reasonable. She says to him: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” 

There’s a pattern in John’s gospel of people taking Jesus’ imagery literally. A few weeks ago, we heard the account of Jesus meeting Nicodemus, in which he takes the suggestion that he be born again very literally, to the point of comedy: can I climb back into my mother’s womb? No, Nicodemus, you can’t, and I don’t recommend you try. Or we could recall the confusion of the Jews who heard Jesus declare that he would raise up the temple in 3 days after it had been destroyed. But there is an important contrast between the ways that Nicodemus and the Jews responded to Jesus and the way the Samaritan woman responds in our reading today. While expressions of belief are absent from Jesus’ encounters with Nicodemus and the Jews outside the temple, our unnamed Samaritan woman continues the theological dialogue and then becomes a witness to Jesus which brings others from Samaria to belief in him. Where Jesus’ words fell on hard ground in Jerusalem, here in Samaria the ground is fertile.

And as we can see from verse 19, her initial suspicion of Jesus turns into a wary respect. In response to Jesus revealing that he has hidden knowledge about her relationship history, she names him as a prophet and, perhaps sensing the significance of a Jewish man sharing water with her at Jacob’s well, she asks him to solve a theological dilemma: “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Perhaps she is hoping for him to pick a team. I wonder whether she thought that a Jew who would ask her for a drink might turn out to be sympathetic to her side after all, vindicating her people. But once again, Jesus stretches her imagination.

‘Jesus said to her: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is coming from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship in Spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as those to worship him.”

Just as there is something bigger and better on offer than a cold drink of water on a hot day, so there is something bigger and better on offer than assurance that your worship practices are met with prophetic approval. This living water is a water of reconciliation. A Jew and a Samaritan drinking the same water from Jacob’s well was a one-off act of reconciliation, against the social and religious grain. But Jesus’ declaration that worshipers of the Father will not be defined by their mountain, but by their worship in spirit and truth, gives this encounter a much richer symbolism. This isn’t a one-off reconciliation for Jews and Samaritans, but a wider, all-encompassing reconciliation which Christ the living water offers. Christ’s water of life comes to reconcile all of us – to God, to each other, to the world.

Around a year after his encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus would once again declare his thirst as he hung on a cross, his head exposed in the noon day sun. In the incarnation, Jesus learns what it is to be thirsty so that he can offer us the water of life. In the crucifixion, Jesus thirsts so that we might never be thirsty again. In his death, water flows from his side, the living rock, broken open for us. And when we come to communion, we celebrate the water of life which reconciles around a common table.

The incarnate son of God, a Jewish man, shares a drink with a Samaritan woman at a well in the noon day sun. An act of reconciliation for one broken family that also throws the kingdom doors wide open. To paraphrase Paul’s letter to the Galatians: There is no longer Jew or Samaritan, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female. All of us are one in Christ Jesus.

And in Christ the well of eternal life, a new family is born – where each of us is offered the living water – powerful enough to reconcile us to God, strong enough to quench our divisions, plentiful enough to drown out our fears, and pure enough to cleanse us of our sin. In a moment we will come together to Christ’s table, a reconciled family, here to receive again the water of life. What are you thirsty for? What reconciliation do you long to see, and will you approach the well of life to ask for it?

 

 

Knowing Our Place in the Climate Crisis: Eco-Feminist Perspectives on Church Leadership

Originally delivered at the ‘Knowing Our Place’ conference in Manchester diocese to the mark the 25th anniversary of women first being ordained as priests in the Church of England. 

Our Current Place

Climate change is often referred to be as being a wicked problem – caused by multiple factors, lacking simple solutions, and pertinent to everyone on the planet. What, then, does this have to do with Christian women in church leadership? I want to begin with the following observations:

  • The majority of Christians live in the countries who bear least responsibility for our climate crisis and are also most at risk from its impacts. There are over 300 million Christians in Asia, and Pew Forum projects that by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians on the continent of Africa.[1]
  • The majority of those regularly praying and attending church globally are women.[2]
  • As droughts and floods increase, so has economic insecurity, leading to growing numbers of child brides in some countries, and women and girls selling sex to survive in others. Women are more likely to experience violence, including sexual violence, in conflicts over scarce resources.[3]
  • Women around the world bear the overwhelming burden of home making responsibilities, including water sourcing. As water scarcity and pollution increases, women bear this burden more heavily, and are more likely to die from lack of access to clean water.[4]
  • Women make up the majority of those living in poverty, meaning that they are both less culpable for and also more threatened by a changing climate: 80% of people displaced by climate change are women.[5] Even in the minority world, women have less disposable income and so have lower carbon footprints.
  • Women are more likely to die in extreme weather events: in the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, almost 5x more young women than men died. In the 2003 European heatwave, more women died than men.[6]

This discussion therefore needs to be informed by the reality that women – and specifically women in the majority world – face much greater immediate physical risk from climate breakdown, while also being a (perhaps the) majority identity group in the global church. Their voices must be the basis upon which we envision the future of women in the church, and appointing leaders who represent this interest group must become our immediate focus. This is a move in the name of crisis prevention, which holds the interests of all of us at its heart. As Joyce Ann Mercer points out, ‘it may be that attending to the differential impact of ecological decline on women will add to our awareness of what is needed for all people to thrive.’[7] It therefore needs to be established as theologically and practically necessary. Here, then, are some avenues that demonstrate the theological and practical basis for such an urgent shift in our leadership demographics.

The key theological challenge we face is one of misdirected attention. In the eco-feminist collection Planetary Solidarity, Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Hilda Koster observe that our ‘theology and doctrine have focused on humanity and made the ‘rest of creation’ external to the story of God with human beings. Climate change brings home that there is no such externality.’[8] While there is growing acceptance of the reality of climate change and the need to change our individual choices amongst Christians in the UK, we have yet to fully embrace the urgency – and therefore the radical response – that will be required. This does not require a ‘new’ theology, but rather to ask what Christian theological tradition has to say, for example, in the context of a young Filipino woman in Manila receiving death threats for leading a campaign to protect Freedom Island, a wetland habitat for migratory birds and vital for the survival of the local fishing community.[9]I want to explore the ways that a theological emphasis on solidarity amongst the communion of saints might be a helpful approach for disrupting assumptions that side-line women as leaders in the church and side-line our human relationship to the rest of the living world.

The problem of our language when talking about the community of creation is well-trodden ground – we tend towards separating humans and nature into competing, or at least distinct, categories in our everyday language and even in theological descriptions of creation. Even towards describing the planet as our ‘home’ can imply that the earth and its systems is merely the structural backdrop for the place humans get on with living significant lives.[10] Anthropocentrism has rightly been a target for extensive critique for the ways it has warped our perceptions of ourselves and encouraged us to imagine that we are independent from the rest of the living world. The stewardship of creation is one such example. Heather Eaton argues that ‘stewardship implies an ontological separation between humans and the natural world… as an ethic of restraint, stewardship is essential. As a theological model, it is detrimental.’[11] While I do not think this is necessarily always the case with stewardship, it is certainly a danger of which we should be aware. There are only two categories of existence – God, the uncreated, infinite, creator is one category, and everything else – created and finite – is another. We belong alongside other creatures, even if we have a distinct way of being a creature.

What does the language of solidarity offer as a helpful contribution? While solidarity has usually been applied to issues of climate justice with specific reference to humans, I want to suggest that the same framework might also have a wider application to our relationships with other created things. When we think about the communion of saints, we receive a wider vision of the people of God: it includes all of God’s people, from all of history. Solidarity in the communion of saints transcends the restrictions of our particular time, space, and culture. Perhaps if we are going to challenge some of limiting anthropocentrism, we need to talk about the communion of God’s creatures and the solidarity we owe there, too.

It is important to emphasise here that solidarity with the world is not proposed as an extension of the communion of saints, but gives us some helpful principles for solidarity with other creatures and created things. Solidarity implies something shared as well as some distinction. The communion of saints is both non-optional (we participate by virtue of being Christians) and also many distinct members in shared belonging. Solidarity expresses that we have distinct experiences and gifts which we can recognise and uphold in each other. Likewise, creatureliness – and our dependence on each other as creatures in a wider system of creation – is non-optional, whether we recognise it or not. But we also acknowledge that when we express solidarity with other creatures, we are expressing our distinct roles.

Again, I am not proposing that solidarity amongst humans
(and in particular solidarity with women in the majority world) and solidarity with other creatures – and the earth itself – mean the same thing in order to correct the dangers of anthropocentric language and expression. We need to be careful to avoid collapsing the distinctiveness of God’s many creatures and fails to recognise their particular roles in the community of creation. Humans are not the same as other animals, either in our role as bearers of the image of God or in the destructive and constructive power we hold over the planet. Rather, if we are using solidarity amongst the communion as a model, it suggests joint participation – a gift jointly contributed – and solidarity connotes the process of recognising, defending, and amplifying the otherwise silenced participants in this gift. It is therefore very important that this solidarity must be implemented in ways that recognise the particularity of the participants. To quote Kim and Koster’s introduction to Planetary Solidarity,  ‘Solidarity requires attention to differences in suffering while extending preferential treatment to those who suffer more’.[12] Solidarity with and for the oceans is not the same kind of solidarity that we might have with an endangered species, or with other humans – clearly, the relationships are different. But that does not mean that solidarity is not required in each instance.

Pursuing solidarity as a priority will mean that we look to our communities – whether amongst humans, or amongst created things – and discern whose gifts have been least recognised and celebrated, and seek to honour those before all others. This understanding of solidarity is vital for both the voices of women in the church and the defence of other creatures. Those different kinds of solidarity can also overlap in their application: if we return to Freedom Island in Manila, honouring and defending the voice of the young woman leading that protest, honouring and defending the migratory birds, and honouring and defending the wetland are all complementary forms of solidarity, not competing ones. And, in general, it is the case that when we talk about solidarity with women in church leadership and solidarity with our dying planet, the two complement each other. Research indicates that placing women in leadership roles will be essential for mitigating the worst of climate breakdown. Women are more invested in the future of the living world, and more likely to make changes to their behaviour based on concern for environmental impact. This is evident on both a personal and national scale. Research has shown that nation-states with a greater proportion of women in national parliament are more prone to environmental treaty ratification, even while controlling for other factors like GDP.[13] When it comes to personal consumption, women are more like to embrace environmentally friendly behaviours.[14]

What should the practical moves of solidarity be? I want to close with some specific ‘big picture’ and ‘immediate context’ proposals.

Our Future Place

The first ‘big picture’ shift we need to make is an immediate and marked increase in investing in training women for lay and ordained church leadership in Africa and Asia, particularly in communities facing imminent threat from climate change. This might include investing in training lay leaders to deliver community sustainability and resilience projects alongside recognising the significance of endowing women with theological authority. The second ‘big picture’ shift is amplifying the voices of majority world women leaders in our minority world conversations around climate change. In particular, their voices should be amplified at general synod, at international gatherings of bishops, and in discussions concerning church investments. This recognises the reality that there are many women already leading their churches and communities in the fight for a more resilient future, but their voices are often ignored or even deliberately silenced.

In our immediate context, there are two areas of work I would like to briefly raise. Firstly, our churches could become hubs for hosting local greening and growing projects, particularly for women and children, who often bear the burden of feeding their household. We could imagine a city in which every church garden and unutilised patch of grass on church property was turned to growing food for our increasingly stretched and threatened communities, partnering with organisations who already run similar projects to reflect the expertise and time required. Secondly, we could imagine a church leadership unafraid to challenge councils and developers who threaten local green spaces, and unafraid to support protest in defence of our dying planet, much of which is led by young women. Loss of local green space threatens the mental and physical health of the people we seek to serve. Low-income women with children often feel the loss of those spaces the most keenly, having less freedom to travel to green space or choose where they live based on access to parks and trees. It is no good insisting that we are invested in developing women as leaders in the church if the interests of women in our community are not also at the heart of our ministry and witness. By the same token, if we are truly seeking ways to ensure that women flourish under their call from God, we must not only support women leading in the church, but women leading everywhere. And the ‘everywhere’ that we currently inhabit is fundamentally shaped by the climate crisis we face.

True solidarity in the communion of saints requires prioritising the voices of those most on the margins in order to strengthen the community as a whole. In the case of women of the majority world in the age of climate breakdown, a focus on investing in the future of those women in leadership is both a reflection of this priority and a reflection of our urgent need to ensure resilience for everyone.

 

[1]Pew Forum, ‘The Future of the World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050’ (2015) https://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/christians/, accessed 05/04/2019

[2] Pew Forum, ‘The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World’ (2016) https://www.pewforum.org/2016/03/22/women-report-praying-daily-at-higher-rates-than-men/, accessed 05/04/2019

[3] The ‘Brides of The Sun’ reporting project was set up to investigate a link between child marriage and climate change, focusing on two countries – Malawi and Mozambique – where nearly half of girls are married by the age of 18.For more details visit https://www.bridesofthesun.com/, accessed 06/04/2019

[4] Water.org, ‘A Women’s Crisis’, https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/womens-crisis/, accessed 22/04/2019

[5] Halton, M., ‘Climate change impacts women more than men’, BBC News (2018) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43294221, accessed 20/04/2019

[6] European Parliament News, ‘Climate Change: Mitigating the impact on women’, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20171201STO89304/climate-change-mitigating-the-impact-on-women, accessed 23/04/2017

[7] Mercer, J., ‘Environmental Activism in the Philippines: A Practical Theological Perspective’, Planetary Solidarity, (Fortress Press, 2017), p.289

[8] Kim, G., and Koster, H., ‘Introduction’, Planetary Solidarity, (Fortress Press, 2017), P.7

[9] Mercer, J., ‘Environmental Activism in the Philippines: A Practical Theological Perspective’ Ibid., p.288

[10] Eaton, H., ‘An Earth-Centric Theological Framing for Planetary Solidarity’, Planetary Solidarity, (Fortress Press, 2017) p.22

[11] Ibid., p.32

[12] Kim, G., and Koster, H., ‘Introduction’, Planetary Solidarity, (Fortress Press, 2017), P.7

[13] Norgaard, K., and York, R., ‘Gender Equality and State Environmentalism’, Gender and Society Vol. 19 No.4 (2005) https://pages.uoregon.edu/norgaard/pdf/Gender-Equality-Norgaard-York-2005.pdf

[14] Brough, A., Wilkie., J., Ma, J., Mathew. I., Gal, D., ‘Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption’, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 43, Issue 4 (2016) https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/43/4/567/2630509?redirectedFrom=fulltext, accessed 20/04/2019