Now that we’ve begun to follow Jesus in praying for the good of creation, the next step is to follow Jesus in action. For Jesus did not use prayer as an escape from engaging in mission, but as a “fuel” for his mission in caring for others.
Fuel, in fact, is a target for prophetic mission for Jesus’ followers today. In August The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out with an alarming report that climate change is already “baked into our immediate future, and the window of opportunity to do something about how bad its effects can be is closing fast.” (Grist, 8/9/21)
The sad thing is that the people who contribute the least to a heating planet are the ones suffering the most: island people whose home is disappearing under the sea; small farmers in countries in Africa like Madagascar and in Central America like Guatemala who are experiencing the worst droughts in ten years; indigenous people in the world’s rain forests who are seeing their homes destroyed. These are the kind of people that Jesus claimed as his mission, to be loved, accepted and helped.
The countries that contribute the most to this disaster are the ones in the northern hemisphere who waffle and procrastinate. It is almost politically impossible in these countries to take firm action against climate change because their politics are so heavily influenced by fossil fuel industries. These industries not only give large sums of money to politicians, they also conduct deceptive public relations campaigns that try to downplay the effects of climate change and to reassure the public that there is no real alternative to extracting and burning fossil fuels for decades to come. These are the kind of people that Jesus confronted, challenged and converted where possible.
If governments won’t do anything, banks and funds just might. Already large pension funds and church funds have divested from fossil fuels. But large banks have not. JP Morgan Chase Bank is the largest bank investor in fossil fuel in the world. Other large local regional banks are also still investing in fossil fuels. The commercial division of Huntington Bank, for example, is advertising on its website that it seeks to invest in fossil fuel businesses. You can check if your bank is a major funder of fossil fuels on the bank.green website.
So, what do you do if your bank is a big funder of fossil fuel development or even if you just regularly pass a branch of that bank as you are out and about? The activist group Th!rd Act says, “Bug the Banks.”
As you scroll down the “Bug the Banks” website, you will be able, if you wish, to sign pledges to boycott those banks. But the first step you should take is to try to influence them. If you scroll further down the site you’ll find instructions and sample letters you can send to a local branch manager of the offending bank, one letter for customers, one for non-customers. Why bug a lowly branch manager? Well, branch managers report things, including unhappy customers and potential customers who are repelled. They go to meetings where protests get put on the agenda. The messages percolate up.
So that’s a start. Next time I’ll give you some information about how to go the next step further and change your bank and investments if you feel you want to make a stronger statement.
ENVIRONMENTAL PRAYER: This week you might want to pray for the earth with this prayer written by Pope Francis.
Thanks for your commitment to praying and caring for God’s creation!
You can find this and all the Creation Care blogs for the church website I have written at my consolidating blog: ststephenscreationcare.blogspot.com