Tom Mitchell's God Sighting : Stewardship of the Earth

On Sunday, September 1st, UUMC acknowledged #FoodWasteSunday. Tom Mitchell shared the following remarks.

God created all things, and when finished, proclaimed it was very good. Then God gave humanity dominion (more properly translated as “stewardship”) over the earth.

Since then some problems have arisen.

Last Spring, we had a UUMC study group on the book Active Hope. This changed my life. Active Hope presents a model for sustainably doing fruitful social justice work. It uses Climate Change as an example.

The model doesn’t require optimism but relies on developing a clear vision of what is sought and working backward to “What do we do now?” 

We can think of the vision part as figuring out what the Realm of God would look like in the matter considered. It relies on a faith (or evidence) that efforts will make a difference. In the Active Hope view, what is to be avoided is despair to the point of giving up on action.

Here are some insights we gained… 

1.    We became acutely aware of the intergenerational social injustice of climate change, where the deteriorating trend bears more heavily on each succeeding generation, our youth and children and those yet unborn. (This is in accord with Greta Thunberg’s message.)
2.   The inequalities where the rich and poor alike pollute, but the rich more than the poor, and the poor suffering more than the rich.

We are in big trouble [as to Climate Change]. 

There are no quick fixes. What we have already emitted into the atmosphere will be up there for quite some time and continue to warm the Earth. But this is not like a battle or war, to be won or lost. We are destined to have continuing effects. The question is “How much and when?” The good news is both small and large efforts will have an impact.

We are called to action as persons and as a church to make personal lifestyle adjustments, many easy, some not. We must advocate for change in discussions with others in daily life and work with organizations influencing government, corporations and institutions for change.

A change for me is mindfulness for my food.

A book entitled Drawdown studied 70 major opportunities to improve our atmosphere. Number 5 on the list was “Food Waste.”  40% of all food is wasted. Part of  the 40% food waste is what’s on your plate that you don’t eat.

I’ve changed my attitude to be accountable for my decisions regarding what is on my plate. I think of three things:

1.   A healthier, balanced diet than I had before.
2.   Anticipating and planning to match the food I have to what I can and do eat.
3.   Considering the amount of carbon dioxide created by what I eat.

Happily, these 3 changes work in the same direction.

I have a one page graphic that helps me with this last step. It ranks major foods by how much carbon dioxide is needed to produce, transport, process, and market the food. Beef is next to the bottom, pork better, chicken better still, beans better than that, and fruit requiring very little. I still eat beef, but not as much.  I ask for ½ portions when available.  I am thoughtful about preparing my own breakfasts and most lunches.

Sometimes, excessive portions are forced on one.  In that case, I am not a member of the clean plate club.  I eat what is appropriate, leave the rest., or get a take-home box. And, sometimes, I can advocate for correction of excessive serving (or change where I eat!)  

Finally, I can talk to others about this, which I have just done.

Thank you for listening.


         Active Hope, How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

              Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, 2012

         Carbon Footprint of What You Eat

                  Simple Happy Kitchen,, August 6, 2018