Book excerpt

There is nothing that unites a group of people more than working together on a shared and urgent task.”

Rev. George Macleod, founder of the Iona community

Having looked at the actions we can take individually to prepare for a lean energy future, in this chapter we look at what our church communities could do.  Our experience is that the issues explored in this book are not on the radar of most churches.  Even churches that have some interest in environmental issues have often not connected with peak oil and its implications.  There are perhaps two main reasons for this:  Firstly, they may simply be unaware of them – as are many if not most of the wider population.  Secondly, they may not view issues of resource constraints as “spiritual” issues which churches should get involved in.  As we have tried to make clear throughout this book, the shortfall in future energy supplies will cause a considerable challenge to our lives in many areas, and churches will not be exempt from the effects.  We believe that energy constraints will provide the context for our lifestyle in the years ahead.  How we “do” church will inevitably be affected:  We will still be worshipping the same unchanging God, but the ways we have become used to doing this will almost certainly have to change.  The ministry of Christians and the church, both in our own country and overseas, is likely to change too, as different needs arise, and different constraints affect us.

The wider challenge for the church is not just to adapt to the changing circumstances that peak oil will force upon us, but also to recognise that the church has been part of the problem.  Most Christians and churches have been full participants in the dominant culture of consumerism, globalisation and economic growth, not questioning it in any meaningful way.  Peak oil will fundamentally undermine this paradigm and therefore challenge not just our society, but our faith.  We need prophetic voices pointing out to us how our attitude to, and our behaviour toward God’s world and its resources have been infected by the dominant world-view, and we need teaching which guides us into different ways of thinking and living.

Chapter 12.  No oil in the lamp.

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