Greening the Lectionary

A Theological Response to the Ecological Crisis: Reflections, Reviews, Comment.

Guest Contributions

Thank you to those colleagues who have offered the sermons and reflections on the page.

A Theodicy for the Environmental Crisis

People blame God for their suffering, but so much of it is caused by human beings.

Breast cancer, testicular & prostate cancers have all risen several fold in recent years. This is believed may be due to the over-use of man-made chemicals such as pesticides which can cause oestrogen-mimic chemicals which disrupt the human hormone & defence system.

There are over 100,000 man-made chemicals in use today & the EU say many of them have not been properly safety tested. When Israel banned the pesticide Lindane their cancer rate dropped significantly. Lindane is mainly banned now in developed countries but it was used for decades in garden products etc. & for treating insect infestations in humans, such as scabies. Quite a few people died from leukaemia when the timbers inside their house were treated for woodworm etc with Lindane. Benzene is a proven cause of cancer but is still used by industry.

The WWF found a cocktail of toxic chemicals in the blood of almost all the 155 blood samples that they took from volunteers. The chemicals came from pesticides, plastics, non-stick fluoride coatings & pollution. Almost all the blood in the world is now said by officials to contain fluoride (PFOA) chemicals from non-stick coatings.

Often scientists test a chemical on its own to find out if it’s safe for humans, but they have not tested for the synergistic (working-together) effect. Chemicals can be much more powerful when combined.

Much suffering & tragedy is caused by corporate greed & laziness. The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate reported that Britain's nuclear waste tips were leaking & were "an accident waiting to happen." Radiation from the nuclear industry & from x-rays can cause cancer, birth defects & genetic damage. CT scans can give off very high levels of radiation. The Royal College of Radiologists Working Party concluded that around seven million x-rays a year in UK may be unnecessary. For this reason doctors & dentists have been recommended to share a patient's x-rays if possible, instead of duplicating them. This is more inconvenient & so is still often not done.

The government say 24,000 early deaths a year in Britain, from respiratory problems etc., are caused by air pollution. Many of UK floods in recent years, which damaged people’s homes, were caused because Britain’s flood defences were not attended to, in order to save money. Rivers were often no longer dredged. New houses are built on flood plains, where fields used to be left empty to soak up flood water.

Many diseases can be prevented or helped by good nutrition. But much manufactured food is low in vitamins, minerals & fibre but high in saturated fat, salt & artificial additives which are cheap ingredients. No incentives are given for the food industry to use healthier ingredients. Cheap ingredients save the companies money but costs the NHS dear.

Hydrogenated fats were added to our food for decades until the Consumers’ Association reported in October 2003 that hydrogenated fats cause higher rates of heart attacks and strokes. Good vegetable oils were treated at high temperature with hydrogen, to turn them into hard fats. This gave food a longer shelf-life but it blocks arteries. Hydrogenated fat was added to many snacks & to healthy-looking ready-meals, including vegetarian, from supermarkets. It was in margarine & vegetarian sausages etc. Most responsible manufacturers have now stopped using hydrogenated fats, but read the ingredients.

Water companies now report that they are not able to remove all the medical drugs such as Prozac & the perfumes, fabric softeners, shampoos & bath products from drinking water. Around 10,000 hospital beds a year in UK are occupied by people damaged by prescribed medical drugs. The NHS spends billions treating patients suffering adverse reactions to medical drugs prescribed for them by doctors, according to figures from the think-tank Compass.

Factory farming is causing human suffering, as well an animal suffering. Intensive farmers feed farm animals antibiotics to keeping them healthy in the cramped, over-crowded unhealthy conditions. Humans then consume the antibiotics in small quantities in meat. This is one cause of drug-resistant bacteria & many antibiotics now fail to work on humans in hospital. The other main cause was the over-prescribing of antibiotics by GPs for colds. New guidelines on this have now been issued to doctors but is still being ignored by some doctors.

This is not the full answer as there will always be some suffering that we can't understand, but the more we know, the it seems that human arrogance, or greed or simple mistakes have a significant part to play.

It's hard when individuals suffer for something which is not their fault. But God gave mankind free will. Edmund Burke said "Evil triumphs when good people do nothing." So we should inform our MPs & companies that we consider health & safety to be important.

Looking at the details of disasters you can often see they were caused by greed, because financial considerations were put first & many were caused by laziness & complacency. Listening to the news you will often hear that warnings given of future disasters were ignored by those in authority.

It's food for thought - next time you hear that something is an act of God ask is it really?

Blessings, Ann Wills

Luke 16.19-31

Let’s look into the future, not so many generations from now. Global warming has accelerated and radically changed our world. The last vestiges of the polar ice caps have melted, large areas of land have flooded. The weather alternates between extreme flooding and drought. The first to be affected were the poor, who had to leave their homes and had nowhere to go, who suffered and died from thirst and hunger while the rich increased their air conditioning and pretended there was no problem. But then the time came when even their wealth could not protect them from the devastating effects of climate change. And they cried out to God, let one of us go back to our great grandparents and great great grandparents and warn them about the hell we are living in now and the dangers of doing nothing about climate change. ‘And God said: ‘They had their scientists. They had their warnings. They should have listened to them. But they did not want to believe them. Or they were not prepared to make the sacrifices needed. Or they were too selfish to do anything, thinking – this may be true but it will only affect the future- it won’t affect me.’ ‘But let us send some of our scientists to lay out the facts for them,’ the future generations said. ‘And let us send our children to plead for us – our children who will have no future.’ ‘If they do not listen to their own scientists and their own children,’ said God, ‘why would they listen if even someone were travel back in time from the future?’


Small earthquakes might have hinted that things were going wrong.
The theatre shook but the Emperor refused to stop his song.
The changes in the atmosphere were no cause for lost sleep.
There were deaths upon the hillside, but who cared -  they were just sheep. 
Our warnings were merely whispers -the connections were not there.
We had no way to stop it, and no time to prepare.
We had no clue that we were doomed,
how close annihilation loomed.
Would we have left if we had known,
and saved our lives, if not our home,
or would we have ignored it all,
denying til the lavafall?