Monday, June 17, 2019

Knowing the reality of God's love



I want to write about how it's possible to know the reality of God's love. I find this challenging as for a long as I can remember I have had a relationship with God. Growing up going to church I discovered God amidst the music, the hymns, the ritual. I talked to God and I always felt God was there.

This is not to say that it's always been plain sailing and there's not been times of doubt and dullness. That have been, but my relationship with God has remained. But I want to try to write something that might be useful to someone who hasn't had that experience and who might find the idea of God rather puzzling or mystifying or just plain weird.

Ralph Waldo Emerson advised his contemporaries to “dare to love God without mediator or veil”. I think this points us in the right direction, even though it's advice that many religious people have not taken. But God (according to the radical mystical tradition that Emerson represents) should not be something experienced second-hand, something known by just reading about God in a book, or hearing about some other “holy” person who has experienced God. No, we should experience God for ourselves. We should not “believe” a set of ideas, a set of beliefs, a philosophical theory, but experience the Divine and experience a way of life rooted in the Divine.

Don't believe in God. Belief is a second-hand activity. The first-hand activity is knowing God. How do you know God? By loving God. The only way to know God is to enter into a love relationship with God.

How is that possible? It sounds like it might just be circular reasoning or simply nonsense. But that's only when we're trying to approach things through the "higher" intellectual, rational parts of ourselves. And that's only one way to approach reality. Every person also has the ability to approach reality through the emotional, bodily, poetic, "spiritual" self.

Certain experiences in life open us to a different way of approaching reality. Think of listening to an overwhelming piece of classical music that somehow makes you feel both joyful and sad at the same time. Think the ecstasy of sexual union. Think of being in "flow" when you are so absorbed in a task you stop thinking. Think of falling in love. Think of the pain of grief.

The last two might be the most significant. Richard Rohr says the two primary paths to transformation are great love and great suffering. It's these things that shatter the ego and allow us to approach God. But in all of these experiences we begin to approach "the spiritual" - we begin to grow our capacity to "hear" God (or to "see" God, whatever metaphor you want to use).

When we know that what we're "listening" for is something like a feeling of love, something like awe and wonder, something like a feeling of joy, we can enter into the practice of prayer with these sorts of senses "sharpened".

Prayer comes in many forms: meditation, singing, chanting, visualisation, but I am an advocate of the kind of prayer some people will think is childish. Just talk to God. Just talk as if someone were listening, and as if they care and want to listen to you. And say whatever you want to. It might feel silly. It might feel silly for a very long time. But stick with it. Even if you're pretty sure there is no one listening, I'm convinced that this practice is really good for your mental health. It's the practice of expressing your deepest thoughts, worries, fears, joys, gratitudes. It's an emotionally healthy thing to do.

But I think if you go into this with your spiritual senses sharpened, you can begin to have a sense of the Someone that listens. You have to realise it's not magic, you don't hear anything in a normal sense or see anything in a normal sense. But if you realise that "hearing" and "seeing" are metaphors for expressing something that is closer to falling in love, feeling awe, feeling inspiration, then yes, you do "hear" God, you do feel the love of God, and you so you begin to get to know what God is.

God is love. The experience of millions of people is that when you begin to open your heart in this way you begin to experience a deep sense that you are loved. Sometimes it might be overwhelming, something that will make you weep with joy. But most of the time it's just a quiet companionable presence. But it is in remaining in this companionable presence you begin to enter into a love relationship, you begin to begin to love God, and in loving God, you find out what it it to know God. All the belief stuff, the theory, the theology, comes later, if you want it to. But often that stuff can be a distraction from the original raw experience of "loving God without mediator or veil”. The radical mystical traditions tell us to keep that in the centre.

I like the way the Quakers put it: Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The 1919 Cardiff Racist Riots



I only just found out about the riots that took place 100 years ago in Cardiff, that killed several people. I wish I could link to one comprehensive webpage that gives the full history, but I don't think one exists. It's a surprisingly hidden piece of history.

The 1919 Cardiff Racist Riots lasted several days with white crowds attacking black and minority ethnic communities, and homes. I feel like we should call them "racist riots" rather than "race riots" as "race riots" suggests a neutrality with blame equally on both sides when this was clearly primarily an attack from the white population on the black and middle eastern populations of Cardiff. Particularly targeted were mixed race families and white women who has married black men.

Cardiff was not isolated but this was part of a pattern that affected Barry, Newport, as well as English and Scottish port towns where there were ethnic minority populations.

High unemployment, newspapers whipping up fear and hatred, and a post-traumatic war population all led to this outburst of racist violence.

The question is: where is the commemoration of this violence in Cardiff today? Why isn't there a plaque or some art work to remember what happened?

This is just another small example of how we choose to be very selective in the history that we remember, and have yet to come to terms with our imperialist and racist history, to tell the truth about our own history, and to come to terms with the history of white supremacy.

This Twitter account is "live tweeting" the riots right now. Check it out.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Five Points of Unitarian Christianity

(I'm republishing this essay on here as it's another one of those important historical documents that I believe is only on one website, and I want to make sure it stays available to all - SL)


The Five Points of Calvinism and the Five Points of the New Theology
by James Freeman Clarke (1885)

(With a few minor updates to the language by Mercy Aiken)

"And thou shalt make . . . five pillars, and overlay them with gold, . . . and shalt cast five sockets of brass for them." -- Exodus xxiv.,37

The number five has acquired as great significance in theology as it has in nature. The largest family of plants is that of which the flowers have five petals; and the most popular theology of modern times is that of Calvin with its five points of doctrine. These five points of Calvin relate to Absolute Decrees, Atonement by Christ for the Elect only, Original Sin, Effectual Calling, and the Perseverance of Saints.

The main and essential doctrines of Orthodoxy in the past, have revolved around the ideas of sin and salvation. These creeds are as remarkable for what they omit as for what they assert. They hardly touch upon those truths which Jesus makes the main focus of his teaching, -- love to God, love to man, forgiveness of enemies, purity of heart and life, faith, hope, peace, patience, self-control, and goodness. It is certain that the theology of the future must dwell on something more than the five points of Calvinism. I have tried to consider what will be the five main parts of the coming theology, and have listed them below.

1. I believe the first point of doctrine in the theology of the future will be the Fatherhood of God.


The essence of this is the love of the father for his children. Fatherly love is a wise love, a firm love, and a pure love, which seeks the best good of the child. Thus this idea of fatherhood includes that of the holiness, the truthfulness, and the justice of God, in a word, all the divine attributes. The justice of God as a Father is not, as in the old theology, an abstract justice, which has no regard to consequences. God's justice is only another form of mercy. It is the wise law which brings good to the universe, and is a blessing to every creature.

Jesus has everywhere emphasized this truth, that God is a father. We find it pervading the Gospels and coloring all his teaching. We find it already in the Sermon on the Mount, which tells us that we are to let our light shine, not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify our Father in heaven; that we are to love our enemies, that we may be like our heavenly Father, who loves his enemies, and makes his sun rise on the evil and the good. Jesus tells us that, when we pray, we are to pray to our Father, not to infinite power or abstract justice or far-off sovereignty. We are to forgive others, because our Father in heaven forgives us. We are not to be anxious, remembering that our heavenly Father feeds the little birds of the air. We are to pray, confident that our heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him. Thus, this idea of God pervades the earliest as it filled the latest teachings of Jesus.

This idea of the divine fatherhood goes down so deep into the human heart that it becomes the source of a childlike obedience, trust, submission, patience, hope, and love. It brings consolation to us in our trials, gives us earnestness in prayer, makes it less difficult to repent when we have done wrong. We look up out of our sin and weakness and sorrow, not to an implacable law, not to an abstract king, but to an infinite and inexhaustible tenderness. Thus, this doctrine is the source of the purest piety.

2. The second point of doctrine in the new theology will be, I think, the Brotherhood of Man.

If men are children of the same father, then they are all brethren. If God loves them all, they must all have in them something lovable. If he has brought them here by his providence, they are here for some important end. Therefore, we must call no man common or unclean, look down upon none, despise none, but respect in all that essential goodness which God has put into the soul, and which he means to be at last unfolded into perfection.

As from the idea of the fatherhood of God will come all the pieties, so from that of the brotherhood of man will proceed all the charities. This doctrine is already the source of missions, philanthropies, reforms, and all efforts to seek and save those who are surrounded by evil. It leads men to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, to teach the blind, to soothe the troubled, to spread knowledge, and carry glad tidings to the poor. And this doctrine, when fully believed, will be the source of purer moralities and nobler charities.

This truth, also, Jesus has taught by his words and his life. He went about doing good, feeding the hungry, making the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, cleansing the leper, preaching the gospel to the poor. He was the friend of publicans and sinners, of the Roman centurion, the woman of Phoenicia, the woman of Samaria. He was the friend and helper of all who needed him. In the story of the Good Samaritan, he taught that all men are brethren. And his last recorded words were the command to preach the gospel to every creature.

3. The third point of doctrine in the new theology will be, as I think, the Leadership of Jesus.

The simplest definition of a Christian is one who follows Christ. This was his own definition: "My sheep hear my voice, and follow me." "I am the way and the truth and the life." "Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden." When Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, and heard his words, he said that she had chosen the good part, and had done the one thing needful. A Platonist is one who studies the teachings of Plato, and takes him for his teacher and guide in philosophy. A Swedenborgian is one who studies the teachings of Swedenborg, and takes him for his guide in theology. A Christian is one who takes Jesus as his guide in religion, and who goes directly to his teachings for religious truth.

But hitherto, instead of considering those as Christians who have studied the words of Jesus, and sought to know the truth, the name has usually been given to those who accepted some opinion about him. Not what he himself teaches, but what the Church says he teaches, has been made the test of Christian fellowship. Men have been told to go to Jesus, but on the understanding that they shall learn from him only the same thing which the Church has already learned. Instead of sending us to the teacher himself, we are sent to our fellow-students. We, therefore, in reality take them, and not Jesus, for our leader.

The Athanasian Creed asserts as unquestioned verities certain metaphysical statements in regard to the nature of the Deity and the relations which existed between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before the creation. These speculations are read four times a year in the Church of England, and the people are told that those who do not believe these superhuman mysteries shall without doubt perish everlastingly. Is it not evident that the Church, in doing this, takes the unknown author of the creed as its leader and teacher instead of taking Christ himself? All human creeds which are made the tests of what Christ taught are in reality put in his place. Compared with his teaching, they are all narrow and unspiritual. They emphasize some purely intellectual statements which chanced to be popular when they were written. The makers of these creeds tell us to call Jesus teacher, but to learn from themselves what he teaches. They show thus that they dare not trust us to go to him; and they show that they have no real faith in him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Of course there is no harm in a creed, when it merely states what a man believes at the present time or what any number of men believe at any particular period. The harm comes from making the creed a perpetual standard of belief, a test of Christian character, and a condition of Christian fellowship. Such creeds, instead of uniting the Church, have divided it into endless sects and parties. Let men take Jesus himself as their leader and teacher, and the Church will be again one. Then Christians will come into communion not only with the mind, but also with the heart of the Master. When the whole Church is like Mary sitting at the foot of Jesus and hearing his words, it will be more full of his spirit. Bigotry and sectarianism, which have cursed Christianity, will disappear, and be replaced by the large generosity and ample charity of Jesus himself. We shall then, according to his striking Oriental image, eat his flesh and drink his blood. Instead of merely accepting propositions about him, we shall assimilate his character and feed on it in the depths of our heart. Then will be fulfilled his saying: "My sheep hear my voice, and follow me. I know my sheep, and am known of mine."

4. The fourth point of the new theology will be a richer definition for "Salvation."Salvation means the highest peace and joy of which the soul is capable. It means heaven here and heaven hereafter. This salvation has been explained as some thing outside of us, -- some outward gift, some outward condition, place, or circumstance. We speak of going to heaven, as if we could be made happy solely by being put in a happy place. But the true heaven, the only heaven which Jesus knew, is a state of the soul. It is inward goodness. It is Christ found within. It is the love of God in the heart, going out into the life and character. The first words which Jesus spoke indicated this belief. The poor in spirit already possess the kingdom of heaven. The pure in heart already see God. "This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." He who has the faith which Jesus possessed has eternal life abiding in him. The water that Jesus gives becomes a spring of water within the soul, "springing up into everlasting life." Do not look for a distant heaven, saying, "Lo! here," or "Lo! there "; "for the kingdom of heaven is now with you." When we come to study the words of Jesus as we study human theologies, we shall find that he identifies goodness with heaven, and makes character the essence of salvation. As long as men believe that heaven is something outward, to be attained by an act of profession or belief, they will be apt to postpone such preparation as long as possible. But when we apprehend the inflexible law of consequences, and know that as a man soweth so shall he reap; when we see that spiritual tastes and habits are not to be formed in an hour; and that all formal professions, prayers, and sacraments avail nothing, unless the heart is pure, the soul upright, and the life one of integrity, -- then a new motive will be added to increase the goodness of the world. Then the formation of character will be the fruit of Christian faith to an extent never before realized.

5. The fifth point of doctrine in the new theology will, as I believe, be the Continuity of Human Development in all worlds, or the Progress of Mankind onward and upward forever.

Progress is the outward heaven, corresponding to the inward heaven of character. The hope of progress is one of the chief motives to action. Men are contented, no matter how poor their lot, so long as they can hope for something better. And men are discontented, no matter how fortunate their condition, when they have nothing more to look forward to. The greatest sufferer who hopes may have nothing, but he possesses all things: the most prosperous man who is deprived of hope may have all things, but he possesses nothing.

The old theology laid no stress on progress here or progress hereafter. The essential thing was conversion: that moment passed, the object of life was attained. A man converted on his death-bed, after a life of sin, was as well prepared for heaven as he who had led a Christian life during long years. And there was no hint given of farther progress after heaven should be reached. Eternity was to be passed in perpetual thanksgiving or in perpetual enjoyment of the joys of paradise. Such, however, was not the teaching of Jesus. The servant, in the parable, who earned two pounds, was made ruler over two cities: he who earned five pounds had the care of five cities. And the Apostle Paul tells us that one of the things which abide is hope. If hope abides, there is always something to look forward to, -- some higher attainment, some larger usefulness, some nearer communion with God. And this accords with all we see and know: with the long processes of geologic development by which the earth became fitted to be the home of man; with the slow ascent of organized beings from humbler to fuller life; with the progress of society from age to age; with the gradual diffusion of knowledge, advancement of civilization, growth of free institutions, and ever higher conceptions of God and of religious truth. The one fact which is written on nature and human life is the fact of progress, and this must be accepted as the purpose of the Creator.

Some such views as these may constitute the theology of the future. This, at least, we see, that many of the most important elements in the teaching of Jesus have had no place, or a very inferior place, in the teachings of the Church in past times. As the good Robinson foretold, "more light is to break out from the Word of God." The divine word, revealed in creation, embodied in Christ, immanent in the human soul, is a fuller fountain than has been believed. No creed can exhaust its meaning, no metaphysics can measure its possibility.

The teaching of Jesus is not something to be outgrown; for it is not a definite system, but an ever unfolding principle. It is a germ of growth, and therefore has no finality in any of its past forms. "Of its fulness," says John, "we have all received, and grace added to grace." The Apostle Paul regarded his own knowledge of Christianity as imperfect and partial. "We know in part," said he, "and we teach in part." Christianity in the past has always had a childlike faith, which was beautiful and true. But its knowledge has also been that of a child. It has spoken as a child, it has understood as a child, it has thought as a child. This was all well while it was a child. The innocent prattle of an infant is sweet, but in a youth or man it is an anachronism. Let us have a child-like faith, but a manly intelligence. "In malice be children, but in understanding be men." Let us endeavor to see God and nature face to face, confident that whoever is honestly seeking the truth, though he may err for a time, can never go wholly wrong.

Source: James Freeman Clarke, “The Five Points of Calvinism and the Five Points of the New Theology,” Vexed Questions in Theology: A Series of Essays (Boston, 1886), 9–18.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Emerson opened the door - we didn't go through


As I have thought about the development of my Unitarian tradition I have come to the conclusion that there was a point when it took the wrong pathway. The point was 1838.

In 1838 Ralph Waldo Emerson preached his Divinity School Address - a seminal sermon in the history of Unitarianism. In that sermon Emerson preached a religion based not on repetition of the stories of the Bible, but on an unmediated relationship between the soul and the divine.

He said, in part,
"It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.... dare to love God without mediator or veil... Yourself a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost, -- cast behind you all conformity, and acquaint men at first hand with Deity."
Emerson's writing is not that easy to read in the twenty-first century (and perhaps it wasn't that easy in the nineteenth) but amongst all the flowery language I think these words seem to me to be very profound. For me these words open a door - a door to God. Emerson says, "It's right there - the door is open - go through - God is right there - freely available."

I'm not an Emerson scholar or historian but it seems to be like this was the challenge that Emerson gave to Unitarianism - and it was a challenge Unitarianism failed to take. Instead of taking this pathway to mysticism it took the opposite pathway. Instead of being inspired by this mystical teaching it took the worst parts of Emerson's philosophy - his individualism and dogmatic anti-traditionalism and defined itself by that. In my view that represents precisely the worst of Emerson.

I don't think Emerson himself stepped through the door. I've never seen any evidence that Emerson did what he was advocating - developed a deep spiritual life, an intimate relationship with God. The problem I suppose, was anti-Catholicism. Emerson and other Unitarians would have been too prejudiced against Catholicism to delve into spiritual practices of contemplative prayer developed by Ignatians or Franciscans. Emerson didn't realise that the very repetitive patterns that he criticised actually represented a trusted practice to achieve a first hand acquaintance with Deity.

In Britain James Martineau, influenced by Emerson, developed a similar theology of divine communion. But again, although in theory he advocated a deep prayer life, I'm not sure if he really worked out how to do it.

Instead, Unitarianism in both Britain and the United States, failed to step through the door, and kept arguing about intellectual ideas and beliefs. Without a solid spiritual foundation Unitarianism has spent 150 years trying, and failing, to find "right beliefs". It has kept up an amateurish philosophical task of trying to define truth and trying to define itself, a task that has always failed. And so we have thousands of sermons about "What is Unitarianism" (while still failing to come up with a good answer) and very few sermons about "How to know God first hand". And yet if we took Emerson's challenge seriously - if we actually stepped through the door - that is what all our sermons would be about (and the sermon would only be an introduction to a time of spiritual practice).

It's not too late I think (but it might be soon). I think there is time to step through the door Emerson opened. I think it is still possible to develop a Unitarianism that is deeply rooted in the mystical. God is still there. It is still possible to know God first hand.

(Image by Konstantin Somov. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Somov_open-door-garden.jpg)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Protestants and Practice


One of the great differences I have noticed between Christians and Buddhists is how much more confident Buddhists are in their faith - and more specifically their practices.

I read a lot of books about church planting, mission, fresh expressions of church, etc, etc. There's always a new book about how the Christian church should change to become more relevant, more post-modern, more this, more that. There's always a new fashionable theory: secular church, emergent church, fresh expression of church, ancient-future church, liquid church, organic church. You can write one of these sorts of books and people like me will buy them and read them. These books are always agonising about how church has become irrelevant and what needs to change to make it attractive to people again. We go to conferences all about this. We talk about it all the time.

What I have noticed is that my Buddhist friends do no such agonising. They display a deep confidence in their spiritual practice that I don't detect in Christians. Buddhists say, "This is the practice: you chant, or you meditate. You do it every day. You keep doing it. And it leads to enlightenment. Centuries of tradition has shown that this practice is a well-worn path to enlightenment. It works. That's why we're Buddhists, because we believe (and we have experienced) that it does work."

Sure, there are other things to talk about. There's philosophies and beliefs and traditions, and there's questions about community life, and whether to get a new website. But beneath all of that I see Buddhists pointing to a concrete spiritual practice and saying "this is the thing".

Why can't Christians do the same? Well I think some Christians can. I think maybe Catholics can, but Protestants have forgotten how to. Catholics can still say, "here it is: the Mass. Do it every day if you can, or at least once a week. This practice is a proven path to God. This is what we offer."

Protestants though have made the Christian faith all about beliefs and ideas (Unitarians are no less Protestant in this regard). Protestants have lost the ability to point to a concrete spiritual practice and say: this is the thing. The only exception I can think of might be Quakers. Quakers, in theory, can still say, "sit in this gathered silence. Centuries of our practice has taught us that this is a proven path to God." (In reality though, I fear many Quaker communities continue the practice while effectively forgetting what it is for).

So my plea to Protestants is to have the confidence that our tradition does contain proven practices that lead to God. This might mean returning to things thrown out in the Reformation. But at it's simplest it means having confidence that worship and prayer are practices that genuinely lead to God. Hymn-singing is a proven spiritual practice that actually leads to God; liturgy, silence, communion, this things genuinely work in leading us to God, don't they? Don't they? (If not, why are we Christians?) Millions of people still do these, and there's a reason for that.

If we don't have confidence that it is actually true that our core practices lead to God, what is the point of all this faffing around with the latest theory about how to make church relevant or appealing? I would love to see Christians have the quiet simple confidence that their religious practice is actually good and effective. That's what I see with my Buddhist friends, and it is deeply appealing. My Buddhist friends do not display a great anxiety about whether their faith is relevant. I see them saying, "Hey, this is my meditation practice, it works for me, maybe it will work for you. Come along and try it out if you like." Why can't Christians be like that?

(Image: Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Corporate_Cartoon_Guy_In_Meditation.svg)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Unitarian theology free downloadable booklets

Saturday, March 30, 2019

EXTINCTION REBELLION CARDIFF RESPONDS TO CARDIFF COUNCIL'S DECLARATION OF CLIMATE EMERGENCY: ‘AN EMERGENCY REQUIRES AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE’

Press release from Cardiff Extinction Rebellion: 

Extinction Rebellion Cardiff welcomes Cardiff Council's decision to declare a Climate Emergency, but warns that urgent action is needed more than words. An emergency requires an emergency response.

Missing from the motion is the sense of urgency the situation demands. The following amendments could have been put forward to rectify this: a). Carbon emission reduction targets are set of all emissions from the region, not just from public buildings etc, and b). A timescale for reaching carbon net-zero is set.

Many other cities and regions have committed to declaring a Climate Emergency and have strengthened their declarations by committing to a time frame within which they agree to have developed a strategy to reach their aim of reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030. These include Bristol, Edinburgh, Carmarthenshire and Bath and North East Somerset, amongst others, who have all committed to reporting within six months to a year with a clear plan of action.

A large group of Extinction Rebellion members from Cardiff are currently in preparation to head to the International Rebellion to protest against the UK governments continued inaction in the face of climate and ecological breakdown in London beginning Monday 15 April when central London will face gridlock and economic disruption in several locations for at least two weeks.[1]

Liz Rosser from Extinction Rebellion Cardiff said “The solutions that are needed are radical. The point of declaring a Climate Emergency, as many other cities have already done, is not to continue down the same path as before but to adopt much more urgent and radical measures. Yes, Cardiff is making welcome progress, but it is nowhere near good enough in the present circumstances. Cardiff, as the capital city of Wales, has the opportunity and responsibility to lead the way. Scientists are clear that rapid and ongoing reductions to greenhouse emissions are urgently required. The planning and investment decisions made today are locking in our future. It is crucial therefore that action is taken immediately".

Friederike Lurken from Extinction Rebellion said: “We are living through a climate emergency because governments and industry have not shown the necessary leadership, and, so far, have not acted fast enough. Fortunately, thousands upon thousands of people are rising up with Extinction Rebellion and cultural institutions are joining with us. Dozens of local councils around the UK have already declared a climate emergency – both inspired by and through grassroots pressure from Extinction Rebellion and the global School Strike For Climate.[2]”

Notes to editors: [1] International Rebellion -https://rebellion.earth/get-active/international-rebellion-a-guide-for-participants/ https://www.facebook.com/events/126622414898833/
[2] – Youth Strikes for the Climate - https://ukscn.org/ys4c

Earth March - Pilgrimage for the Planet (Video)


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The great enemy is gradualism

There is about climate change, but it's also about a lot of other things.

The greatest barrier in dealing with climate change is not climate change denial, but climate change gradualism.

Most politicians, most business leaders, heck most leaders in the fossil fuel industry say, "Yes, climate change is important, and we are dealing with it, and here's the plan for dealing with it, slowly reducing carbon emissions and getting to a zero carbon economy in 2050 or 2060 or 2070 if we can manage it."

This plan would be disastrous for the world. When it comes to climate change winning slowly is the same thing as losing. (I've read someone else say this, I can't remember who, these ideas are not original).

The challenge for activists is to be absolutely clear what the demands are, and unapologetic in demanding them.

That's hard, psychologically. If you say, "Give me an apple" and someone gives you a quarter of an apple, there's an instinct that wants to say "thank you" - because at least you got a some of an apple. Maybe this is a reasonable compromise, maybe this is as much apple as the other person could afford to give.

But when it comes to the climate crisis, or with fundamental human rights, or with equality, and the inherent dignity of a group of people, we have to be brave enough to say, "No. I demand nothing less than the whole apple. Anything less is just not good enough."

This risks being perceived as unreasonable, unwilling to meet someone half way, ungrateful. But we must have enough moral certainty to know that this is absolutely necessary. There is no "just enough equality" - there is equality or there isn't. There is no "partially, 'reasonably', gradually" dealing with the climate crisis. There is either dealing with the climate crisis with radical action, or there is criminal irresponsibility. "Compromise", gradualism is not good enough. Gradualism still leads us to disaster.

On climate change we must demand radical action from our governments and accept nothing less.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Communion (Video)


This video was part of an installation (see below) at an event called "COMMUNION" at Shift Cardiff, curated by Lumin Journal. It was an event "responding to communion, communication, language and text-art bringing together the city's radical/poetic/dialogue-driven agitators of the arts scene."