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Earth Day With A Twist: Giving Our Credit Cards A Holy Pause

2012/04/27

Last weekend, I had the privilege of participating in a unique Earth Day celebration in Winnipeg, Manitoba. On the sunny Earth Day Sunday, I joined dozens of other people streaming into the procession as it made its way down the city’s main street. We were bracketed by a golden oil barrel in the front and a twelve foot tall walking tree in the back.

The Consumption Sabbath event was organized by an ad hoc group of Christians from different faith backgrounds, including Mennonite and Anglicans, and attracted at least 300 people. Will Braun, writing in the Huffington Post yesterday, said the aim of the organizers was to “combine performance art, sincere faith, and concern for the earth”. The consumption sabbath theme was chosen to encapsulate the imbalanced relationship between humanity and the earth.

“We buy too much stuff; we use too much energy,” says fellow organizer Melanie Dennis Unrau. “We’re literally consuming the earth; spewing our excess into the atmosphere. It’s time for a holy pause, a different rhythm of life.”

The tent revival was a celebration of community and of life that held out the tantalizing possibility of redemption from our sins towards our earth and each other. It was fun, a faith-filled event that didn’t take itself too seriously at the same time as it recognized the seriousness of the environmental and moral crisis we are facing. As Braun wrote:

As the choir sang and swayed, people of all ages streamed forward. They pledged to learn to live in smaller circles — to bike less and walk more, to eat locally, to plant gardens. Many pledged to take a digital sabbath — “no screens on Sunday,” one person wrote. Another pledged not to enter the doors of Walmart for a year.

The changes are incremental. The follow-through, as with any altar call, is not guaranteed. And the irony-laced performance element, not to mention the anti-consumer gist, is not for everyone. But for some, the playful mix of drama, spirit and consumption sabbath helped free up a new path forward.

So, my dear sisters and brothers out there in the ether, I invite you by the grace of our Lord to give your credit cards a holy pause, to let your conscience laugh and to give the earth a rest.

Do I hear an “Amen”?

*

The video includes a clip of my “testimony” of my conversion from a climate change avoider to a climate activist/fossil fuel abolitionist.

More links:

Will Braun: Earth Day Revival Amuses, and Transforms: Reduce, Reuse, Repent

ConsumptionSabbath.com

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/04/27 10:36 am

    Aaay-men.

  2. Karla permalink
    2012/04/27 2:01 pm

    Brilliant, creative and inspiring. AND I spotted my cousin Mike Smith was in the front of the procession carrying the oil barrel! One thing I loved seeing in the clip was the white and grey haired folks sitting in the tent. Looks like a great Earth Day tradition?

    • 2012/04/27 7:27 pm

      How fun, Karla, although I’m not surprised you found someone you knew in the crowd – I’m just surprised that you didn’t find more! The people that joined the parade right after me were my cousin and her family, whom I thought were still in Africa, where they’ve been much of the last 10 years; turns out they’re home for the year.
      You can add that to your list of Winnipeg experiences to look forward to once you’re back in the city: bumping into people you know at random times and places!

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