Why the silence?
Here’s my response to the announcement that [the] dioceses [of Ottawa and Montreal] have made the decision to not invest their funds in the oil industry (Synods divest from fossil fuels, Jan. 2016, p. 1): I want you to remember that there are thousands of people whose employment revolves around the production of oil in northern Alberta.
Since the downturn in oil revenues, 53,000 oil-related jobs have been eliminated, and that number is still rising. The silence from our political leadership in Ottawa has been both deafening and extremely disappointing. Those who have worked for many years in the oil patch deserve better. The results of their labour—until the downturn—has been the source of funding for social programs and facilities all across Canada. Yet we hear nothing! What would be the response of governments if this magnitude of layoffs had occurred in Ontario or Quebec?
Both Syncrude and Suncor are the biggest employers of First Nations people anywhere in Canada. As one First Nations person said at a public meeting held at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Fort McMurray, Alta., “What right have you to take away the pride and lifestyle my family is finally beginning to enjoy?”
Unfortunately, there has been no vocal concern from any of the church leaders in Canada, which is even more tragic because the churches above all are in the people business. When any group makes political decisions, there are people who are directly affected.
Leadership demands presence and action—otherwise, it is just words!
The Most Rev. John R. Clarke
Peace River, Alta.
The plank in the eye
It is clear from Scripture how our Lord regards hypocrisy. Yet, it appears that the Anglican Journal, and perhaps the Anglican church itself, is complicit in taking a gratuitous, adversarial position against the fossil fuel industry, placing it amongst such undesirables as “pornography,” whereas most of a fuel’s carbon footprint by far results from its end use. Is it not hypocritical to point a finger at the speck in the industry’s eye while ignoring the log in the consumer’s eye (all of us who drive, fly, use plastics, etc.)?
I worked my entire career professionally in the oil industry, in many disciplines, and with several companies. Since most of my income derives from my company pension, I wonder if the church is comfortable accepting contributions from such supposedly ill-gotten gains. How about the PWRDF? Should I discontinue giving?
I am comforted, though, knowing our Lord exhibited an affinity toward sinners, perhaps even more so than to the self-righteous.
I have followed the climate change debate closely over the years, and am of the opinion that the issue is wildly overhyped. I challenge anyone truly interested in the subject to read a recently published book titled Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change by Canadian professor Michael Hart. The author wonders, as do I, why some churches are so against fossil fuels when over the years they have enabled billions in the developed world to escape abject poverty and continue to do so in the developing world.
I consider fossil fuels to be a gift to humanity, and am grateful for them.
The recent decisions by the synods of Montreal and Ottawa to divest from fossil fuels are typical of an Anglican church that confuses fine words with real action.
If they really wanted to take action on global warming, they could perhaps have set about ensuring that their buildings are energy efficient, encouraging their parishioners to walk, car-pool or take public transit to church, and grounding their globetrotting clergy and administrators. But no, such actions are too mundane, costly and inconvenient and might not even be reported in the Anglican Journal; far better to divest from fossil fuels, an action that allows the synods to hold up their heads among progressive circles without inconveniencing anyone.
The benefit of state aid
If U.S. Catholic theologian William T. Cavanaugh is being quoted correctly in context, he’s wrong (A church with little political clout? ‘Thanks be to God,’ Dec. 2015, p. 1).
State aid to the disadvantaged does not “immunize the wealthier classes from the messy and potentially life-altering encounter with actual people who suffer.” State aid is social justice and dignity. It is the antithesis of handouts from the wealthy that is degrading.
“Would if I could”
I found the article by the Rev. Daniel Graves interesting and confusing (Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground, Jan. 2016, p. 3). He indicates a church can close if it is irrelevant. I don’t think churchgoers would ever call their place of worship irrelevant.
I remember a Journal story on Back to Church Sunday. My church had been closed just prior to the special Sunday call, even though I was told finances were healthy. I remember thinking, “would if I could” attend Back to Church Sunday.
It is true our congregation was aging, but we were a tightknit family under God’s roof.
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