Climate and Christ describes what climate change is and how it happens, and suggests ways in which ordinary people can help to mitigate it. It also describes the process of evolution, and proposes that Christian ecology must henceforth integrate evolution. a chapter on Jesus Christ discusses Jesus own ecology, from birth to resurrection, including the agrarian Jewish ethos which he inherited and lived in his own alternative itinerant lifestyle, preparing and preaching the kingdom. A final chapter makes suggestions for our own prophetic alternative lifestyles inspired by Christ. This includes the principles of local sustainability, and an agrarian economics not predicated on everlasting growth, because we have reached the end of earths biocapacity. We henceforth need alternative lifestyles of quality, earth care, and sharing.
Edward P. Echlin is an ecological theologian relating Jesus Christ to the earth. He chairs Catholic Concern for Animals and is Honorary Research Fellow in Theology, University College of Trinity & All Saints, Leeds. Based in East Sussex he writes and lectures in ecological theology, grows organic fruit and vegetables, with a special interest in local fruit varieties and appreciates the earth community. He is a member of HDRA (the National Organic Gardening Organisation), the Soil Association, Christian Ecology Link, and other environmental NGOs. Dr Echlin is a regular contributor to journals and periodicals and is the author of Earth Spirituality, Jesus at the Centre (John Hunt).
In his previous book The Cosmic Circle the eminent Jesuit theologian Edward P Echlin developed the principle of the centrality of Jesus Christ to the entire Universe and, concurrently, to the ecological balance of our planet Earth. His new work, written in the light of the great Copenhagen Conference on climate change, develops the theme.
He outlines the dangers to our well-being inherent in global warming and introduces the topic of evolution, with particular reference to the discoveries of Charles Darwin and the insight of the great Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin.
Darwins discoveries led him away from the ritual and narrow teaching of his Church - but never from a belief in a Creator. Teilhard, coming a little later, was able to accept Darwinism and used his theological skills to show how Christian belief was fully compatible with it.
Both men lived quite a long time ago and well before the population explosion of scientists and the increasing sophistication of equipment which have made it possible to measure global temperatures with sufficient accuracy to show that the earth is warming and the climate changing. Father Echlin expresses his deep concern, echoed by so many others, for the future of humanity and the wider environment should these changes lead to extremes.
The third of the six chapters in this book is entitled Jesus Lord of Climate and Evolution. This concept is perfectly acceptable in terms of belief in the Trinity and that the one God whom we worship in three persons is the creator of the Universe and that his Word, so beautifully expounded in the opening of St Johns Gospel, is the foundation of the evolving cosmos.
That being so, it should not have been necessary for the author to make so much use of speculation on the unknown life of Jesus before he began his ministry. But without it, the idea of Jesus a prophet of ecology becomes very much less convincing.
Echlins prophetic call is for people to lead a simpler life and to abandon the idea of continued growth. There are two problems with this. First is the improbability that the simple lifestyle he extols would actually increase or even sustain the wellbeing of humanity or of the living environment. Second is the fact that growth is the essence both of every individual plant and animal and of the complexity of the evolving biosphere.
The teaching of Jesus Christ is to love one another and it is fair to extrapolate that this means improving the sustainability of the human race. How we do it remains an open question.
Father Echlin believes that we must cast aside many of the achievements of the 20th Century and live simply. But that is not the only way forward and there is an alternative of finding a way that does not conflict with our God-given nature which demands growth and which we hold in common with all living things.
- Christopher Moriarty, The Irish Catholic 27th May 2010