A Conservative Argument for Environmental Justice

My recent column for the Mennonite Creation Care Network begins like this:

When I was a kid, maybe seven or eight years old, I liked to go fishing on the lake near our family’s Ontario home. A friend and I would hike to a rocky point with room cast the heavy line and lures we used. Sometimes my younger brother and I would row a little boat out into the bay and fish. The best part was that it was just us kids—no adults. The only rule was that we had to wear life jackets. 

A few things stand out to me as I think back on those little fishing expeditions in the 1980s. One is that I expect there was probably more adult supervision than we knew. Our sense of freedom was complete, but I doubt we were really out of sight for very long. The second thing, which I knew nothing of at the time, was that the place we fished was part of a horrifically polluted watershed. We lived just outside of Dryden, Ontario, home to a pulp mill and, at one time, a chemical plant. According to the province, in the 1960s and 70s the pulp and paper operation dumped “around 10 metric tonnes of mercury” into the Wabigoon River. A paper published last year in The Lancet Planetary Health called this “one of the worst environmental disasters in Canadian history.” 

The full column full piece can be found on the MCCN website.

The King was Deeply Moved – A Sermon for August 8

Texts: Psalm 130, II Sam. 18:5-9,15,31-33; 19:1-8

Hear these lines from the psalmist: “Help, God—I’ve hit rock bottom! Oh God, hear my cry for help!”

That’s how Eugene Peterson (The Message) renders the beginning of Psalm 130. Some of you might be more familiar with how it reads in the King James version: “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord; Lord hear my voice!”

The meaning is the same. Both translations recognize the need for exclamation points!

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A Consistent, Everyday Joy

A couple of weeks ago my family and I needed to get out of the house. Since we live on the southern edge of Ottawa, it doesn’t take us long to drive down to the Saint Lawrence River. The afternoon we spent there started cloudy and blustery, but it ended with brilliant sunshine and a perfect breeze. We didn’t do anything exceptional. It wasn’t warm enough to swim. We watched boats, threw some rocks, built a few sandcastles, and tried to name the waterfowl. It was a perfect afternoon (well, except for that one thing that happened . . . and that other thing).

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Pushback – A Sermon for July 11

Texts: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24

Our readings today, from Psalm 24 and II Samuel 6, remind us that at the core of our faith is something more than words, something more than a community that we build, something more than our preferences or experiences, something more than our ideas or worries, something more even than the history of those who have called themselves Christians—at the core of our faith is the living God. In II Samuel 6 we see this truth strangely knit into a story about moving heavy furniture.

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