Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Living out the Faith in a Broken World

There has been so much happening in the world recently; all of it highlighting the ‘brokenness’ of the world in which we live.

The earthquake in New Zealand, the even more devastating earthquake in Japan with the tsunami and nuclear crisis to follow, the events in Egypt and other Middle East countries and especially the current crisis in Libya.

All of these things raise serious questions for people of faith. They also provide much ammunition for faith’s detractors!

But such matters are not the main concern of this blog. I do not wish at this point to go into questions of how or why the world is ‘broken’ nor deal with issues of a loving God and natural disasters etc. These I may deal with another time, and many, many others are grappling with these issues.

Anyway, in the face of human tragedy the first response is surely that of concern for, aid to, prayer for and support of those who are suffering. Philosophical discussions and theological responses can come later, if come they must.

However, two things are really niggling at me. The first is the nuclear power issue and the second is the world’s response to the Libyan crisis.

With regard to nuclear power, it is perhaps not surprising that following the apparent threat of meltdown in the nuclear power stations hit by earthquake and tsunami, and the release of radiation into the atmosphere (and also it seems into the food chain and the water supply) many people are now saying that we must avoid nuclear power. But I wonder…

In a broken world there are no perfect answers. If we want to have energy we need to generate it, and – to the best of my knowledge – there are only three options: fossil fuels, renewables or nuclear.

With regard to fossil fuels, the evidence for human made global warming resulting from our excessive carbon emissions seems to me to be incontrovertible. I know that there remain many who question it (some because they have an instinctive distrust of ‘experts’, and many because the implications for lifestyle are just too inconvenient to contemplate). It’s a strange thing, but the recent extreme winter conditions have caused some in my hearing to say such things as ‘Well, so much for global warming’, conveniently ignoring that such extreme weather conditions were exactly what was being predicted by climate change scientists two decades ago!

It seems to me that as Christians who believe that we are stewards of creation and that we must honour the Creator by caring for what he has created, we ought to be in the vanguard of action! And even the climate-change doubters amongst Christians are surely still accepting of the view that we cannot simply continue to chuck our rubbish out into the garden of God’s creation whether that rubbish is landfill garbage or atmosphere bound carbon. So increasing our fossil fuel use is hardly an option.

So perhaps renewables are the obvious choice. And I for one agree that we need to dramatically increase our use of these. But they also come with a cost… windmills on hillsides or off coastlines and giant pylons marching across the countryside. And anyway, it is doubtful that renewables alone can provide our energy needs.

These are not easy issues for the environmentally responsible Christian!

So what about nuclear? Has the Japanese tragedy and the impact on their nuclear power stations (which is still unresolved at the time of writing this) entirely undermined the case for nuclear power? Actually, I don’t think so. An earthquake of almost unprecedented proportions and a tsunami following strike nuclear power stations where not all the back up was properly in place. And yet they seem to be on the edge of coping and the radioactive consequences remain relatively low in overall terms. Should that rule out the nuclear option for the UK?

No, it is not ideal. But then what is? How do Christians make decisions on such matters when there is no obvious good and bad, right and wrong?

And then, what about Libya?

Most of us would agree that Gadaffi is not a good bloke. Indeed, he seems to have been a cruel dictator. But how come the West which was so keen to ‘cosy up’ to him in recent years is now suddenly bombing his nation? Where is the right and wrong in this. And if they are imposing a ‘no fly’ zone to protect civilians in Libya why not in some of the other Middle Eastern countries where demonstrators are also being shot at by those loyal to dictatorial regimes?

Perhaps there is a moral case for this intervention. But I just don’t know. What does a Christian do, think, say? What is a Gospel perspective on this? Is it ever right to intervene to overthrow a dictator? What about Hitler? And if Hitler then why not Stalin or Pol Pot? Why Gadaffi now and not earlier? And so on and so on.

And how can we afford to spend all this money on bombs and missiles etc (and it is a HUGE amount of money that is involved) but we can’t afford to keep our relatively inexpensive libraries open? (Or does cutting the deficit not apply when it comes to missiles?)

I don’t have answers to all these questions. I am not sure what I think, which is really my point. As Christians, how do we decide on these complex issues?

And perhaps it all raises the underlying issue; how does a Christian politician or world leaders behave and decide when it comes to these big issues?

Answers on a postcard please to…..?!?

1 comment:

  1. Aye - but there lies the Church of Scotland dilemna - Not making up your mind ! Going by the Old Testament where there was blood curling action to the plenty - No - I do think that on occasion we need to get off our but and start a war- problem is usually ending it ! I now work with a man who was in at the deep end of the Afghanistan war and that sounds horrific, and it still goes on and on and on. Have a deep and original Easter one and all