As electors have cast their vote, we can breathe a sigh of relief: Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States. Let that sink in! I honestly believe that even those who supported the president will not miss his conduct in the office, his tantrums, and undignified tweets. They may miss his policies but most will gladly dispense with his destructive personality.
The last four years have been a long whirlwind of chaos that I hope our nation never returns to. Just not having to deal with his tweets and the consequent media outrage surrounding it has been refreshing. Moreover, we can celebrate that civility is returning to the White House.
My main hope is that a Biden presidency can make politics boring again unlike the intrusive disruption it was in our lives for the last four years. With that said, this cannot be an invitation for disengagement as the work is far from complete. Let us not repeat the mistakes of 2009-2010 when an Obama presidency was quickly undermined by losses in the mid-term elections. While the electorate sat back, radical factions of the right woke up and mobilized. Their efforts would eventually bear fruit in the election of 45. A vacuum of a common cause that unites that country will invite a resurgence of irrational populism.
I have learned many great things from pastor Bill Johnson, whom I deeply respect. One of these things is the power of our words. Your words become your reality, Johnson has argued in his sermons. We cannot separate who we are from what we say.
Of course, a politician’s policies are important. But so are their words. James, the brother of Jesus, warns us against the power of the tongue, likening it to a small spark that can set an entire forest on fire (James 3:5). “Sound bites” can have disastrous consequences.
Take Trump’s suggestion in April that COVID-19 could possibly be cured by injecting disinfectants in the body, “cleaning” the lungs. Health officials had to immediately warn the public that this would in fact kill you, as poison control centers all over the country reported a significant increase of household disinfectant ingestion.
Trump later claimed that his comment was sarcastic directed at reporters, even though he hadn’t been talking to them but to his medical advisors.
People often ask me: “Why do so many evangelical Christians support Trump?” . It’s a good question. What is with having a high view of Scripture that leads people to celebrate someone who in so many ways doesn’t sound and act like Jesus?
This summer it was reported that the Australian liberal prime minister Scott Morrison was welcomend on stage at a gigantic Hillsong meeting during their annual conference in Sydney. He led the congregation of 30-35000 people in prayer and confessed his faith in a miracle working God. Andreas Nielsen, lead pastor of Hillsong Sweden, affirmed that the prime minister ”is a devout Christian”. He also said that that ”his participation in the conference is a recognition of the important role that the church in general plays in Australia and that it makes a difference.”
Fantastic, isn’t it?
I am not so sure about that. On the contrary, I think that it is very dangerous for the soul of the Church in Australia. Last winter Magnus Malm wrote in Swedish Christian newspaper Dagen that God is not on the side of the powerful. In fact God says in Psalms 146,3: ”Never put your trust in powerful men.” For centuries, Catholic and Orthodox churches have often been close to political power. That was the case when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors went ashore in South America, and it is the same today in countries like Russia and Poland. Continue reading Hillsong Shouldn’t Put Their Trust in Powerful Men→
I don’t know if you noticed, but last Friday the biggest climate protest in history occurred, with millions of people in 185 countries marching for climate action and global justice. This is all part of the #FridaysForFuture movement which started not more than a year ago when Swedish student Greta Thunberg went on a “school strike” every Friday to tell her politicians that they don’t do enough to stop climate change.
Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.
But they can’t rule it out. One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas.
These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus.
Mozambique needs our help. Iris Global, the ministry led by missionaries Heidi and Rolland Baker, is calling for support as the country has been hit by two devastating cyclones. Rolland wrote earlier this month after Cyclone Idai had put millions of lives at risk:
We heard stories. One old blind man lived in a shabby hut with his wife who fed and took care of him. But the storm destroyed their house, and his wife was killed by flying debris. Afterward neighbors came by and built him a simple lean-to shelter with scattered pieces of wood so he could sit out of the rain. But now his wife is no more and he is truly alone.
What is his future? Untold others died in the storm, probably thousands. Bodies are floating in the floodwaters. Crops are washed away. An entire harvest is gone. Roads are impassable. Clean water cannot be found.
Large areas are twenty and even thirty feet under water. The devastation stretches for hundreds of kilometers across three provinces and also Zimbabwe and Malawi.
This is the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere. The United Nations has never had to coordinate such a massive relief effort before. 1.8 million people were already facing critical food shortage before the cyclone. Now their meager supplies and possessions are wiped out.
This weekend, Cyclone Kenneth arrived and made the situation even worse. Heidi reports on Facebook:
Please keep praying! Reports from the north show Cyclone Kenneth wiped out entire coastal villages and now the continuous heavy rains are causing flash flooding, landslides, and homes to collapse. Rescue operations are slow-going because roads are either underwater or washed out. Through it all, we keep our eyes on Jesus!
In 2013, an IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) report was published stating that 95 percent of scientists are positive that the climate crisis of today is caused by mankind. Over the past 40 years, greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity have increased by 70 percent. During the same time, global meat consumption has tripled.
The connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gas emissions received increased attention in 2013, when the UN’s Organisation for Food and Agriculture released a report stating that around 18 precent of greenhouse gas emissions today comes from animal agriculture. And even if there would be zero emissions from all sectors such as energy, transport and trade, but not from animal agriculture, this would still not be enough to keep the planet from overheating. The issue of meat production and ultimately meat consumption is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time.
It was widely reported last week that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented new research that says we humans have just over decade to change the way we consume energy or the detrimental effects will be irreversible. In an era where apocalyptic-style news is commonplace, this story has not received the space that it is due.
Indeed, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, why do so many people of faith, particularly Pentecostals, continue to refute the reality of climate change? Second, do we have a moral obligation to fix the ecological problem that we created? And third, what can we, as individuals, even do?
1 Climate Change
According to surveys, disbelief in climate change rose 7% between 2013 and 2014, and for those that can at least acknowledge that temperatures and sea levels are rising, white Evangelicals are the least likely among their Christian sisters and brothers to claim that it has anything to do with human activity.
You thought that we had enough wars, hunger, and diseases. You thought that the current refugee crisis was big. You thought that natural disasters were too severe already.
Well, you were wrong.
The recent IPCC report cannot be taken lightly. It is based on 6,000 scientific studies and has received input from 40,000 peer-reviews. This is the scientific consensus. It’s time we stop getting distracted by climate change deniers and face the facts.
And the facts are that we are heading right into enormous environmental disasters that will kill and hurt hundreds of millions of people.
There is still time to change course, but it has to be done immediately. The modern, Western lifestyle is doomed. Either we choose to abandon it, or we will be forced to do so when the climate crisis hits. Many are confused as they are not sure how they ought to live in order to reduce their ecological impact on others.