MAGAZINE NO. 158 [December 2023]
Cover image: 'Eagle Spirit by' John Walker
Funding of the colour cover for the printed issue has been generously donated by an Eremos member.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
LISTENING TO COUNTRY by Jennifer Rumbel 5
STRETCHING TOWARD BELIEF: THE WORK OF HOPE
Address to Christians for an Ethical Society 22 August 2023
by Sarah Bachelard 10
LOOKING TO NATURE: LANDSCAPE, PLANTS
AND BEAUTY… by Rex Hunt 18
INTERVIEW WITH JAN MORGAN AND GRAEME GARRETT interviewed by John Foulcher 25
KERRIE HIDE’S ‘LOVE ONEING: A BOOK ABOUT CONTEMPLATION’ reviewed by Rev. Mark S Burrows 32
EREMOS INFORMATION AND MEMBERSHIP 38
The world is set to have been hotter in 2023 than in any other year on record, scientists have declared, before a landmark climate summit this month.
“We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record, and is currently 1.43C above the pre-industrial average,” said Samantha Burgess, the deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into Cop28 has never been higher.”
The Copernicus scientists found last month was the hottest October on record globally, with temperatures 1.7C above what they were thought to have been during the average October in the late 1800s.
By burning fossil fuels and destroying nature, humans have pumped heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere that have raised the temperature of planet by 1.2C since the Industrial Revolution. The global temperature anomaly for October 2023 was the second highest across all months in its dataset, the scientists found, behind only the month before.
The Guardian 8 November 2023
It’s not up for debate anymore, is it? Anthropogenic climate change is no longer a theory. The weight of evidence for humanity’s destructive effect on the health of the planet has made the principles of global warming all but indisputable. Those who have claimed that the evidence was equivocal only need look out the global window. The number of catastrophic climate events we’ve seen over the past five years has dwarfed anything we’ve seen in living memory, and change is occurring significantly faster than scientists have predicted.
The world we grew up in has gone. For too long, we’ve tried to fool ourselves that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet, and we’re now paying the price for that delusion. Sadly, our children and grandchildren will pay an even greater price.
So where do we go from here – particularly, those of us who profess religious faith? Some more fundamentalist Christians may take the easy way out, suggesting that these are the ‘last days’ and that God has had this age of collapse planned all along. I think that kind of approach is a fantasy, a way of washing one’s spiritual hands of our responsibilities in a world that desperately needs an honest assessment of what we can do, now that we’ve shown ourselves to be such poor custodians of the earth.
It’s a question that we’ll have to sit with for a long time, and it has no easy answers. This issue of EREMOS explores the seeds of an approach to the decline of ecosystems. Jenn Rumbel beautifully illustrates the first step we need to take: we must listen to the language of the natural world. Drawing on her indigenous heritage, she takes us into a means of attaining and maintaining spiritual health: ‘We [must] perceive and listen to Country through our senses and feelings, we experience Country on a deeper-than-words level, we are not thinking with our heads, rather feeling with our bodies and hearts.’
If Jenn Rumbel suggest we listen, Rex Hunt advises we look in his detailed and poetic article, ‘Looking to Nature: Landscape, Plants and Beauty….’ Although we’ve only been in this land for a couple of centuries (compared with the 60,000 years of those who came before us), our culture has its own precedents for living in a proper relationship with the natural world, one which is built on reverence rather than domination and utilitarianism.
These overlapping heritages have both been mined by Jan Morgan and Graeme Garrett in their seminal book, On the Edge: A-Way with the Ocean, which focuses on the need for healthy oceans for the sustaining of terrestrial life – ‘no blue, no green’. In their interview, Morgan and Garrett explore the delicate balance between realistic appraisal of our situation and the courage to hope for humanity’s future spiritual health. They hint at a kind of eco-theology which has the potential to take us into the future. Similarly, Sarah Bachelard in her address to Christians for an Ethical Society re-appraises the concept of ‘hope’ for our future health, as citizens of both urban and natural networks.
This issue of EREMOS explores difficult, uncomfortable issues. We hope it will be a starting point for serious conversation among our readers.
In the previous issue of EREMOS, I suggested that – as we approached the October 2023 referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament – I couldn’t see a good reason to vote ‘No’. Clearly, the Australian people disagreed, and the proposal for constitutional change was soundly defeated. Some ‘Yes’ proponents, understandably dismayed by the result, say this reflects Australia’s inherent racism and inability to face the past. There may be some truth in this, but it’s not a helpful way forward. I suggest that those of us who voted ‘Yes’ must respect the integrity of the vote; those of us who wanted the proposal to succeed need to accept that 60% of our fellow Australians voted against it in good faith. The struggle to acknowledge the wealth of our First Nations brothers and sisters’ heritage in this country and to close the gap between the standards of living of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians continues, and we must now consider new ways of making a better future for the nation. Together.