Repentance IS the Revolution

Here we are at the start of ‘Green Week’ in which the UK government has decided to ask some experts about whether or not we should amend our target of being carbon neutral by 2050?! Talk about asking a stupid question! In the very same week, Cuadrilla will be allowed to start fracking – drilling for more fossil fuels in Lancashire, whilst those who peacefully protested are sent to prison (a little ironic!) and the Climate Change Minister –  Claire Perry, has declared it is not her government’s job to advise people on a climate friendly diet (despite the evidence, which I regret, showing that we need to seriously curtail our meat intake, especially of beef and lamb). What is the role of government, I am left wondering…….?


We have 12 years! That really isn’t a very long time. 12 years in which to drastically change our minds and our behaviour about how we are living, or face the devastating consequences of the impact of climate change for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.


Gandhi wrote so powerfully about the seven social sins, as he saw them:


1) Politics without Principle

2) Wealth without Work (weird how this has switched in the social conscience to poverty without work….how did poverty become the sin?)

3) Commerce without Morality

4) Pleasure without Conscience

5) Education without Character

6) Science without Humanity

7) Worship without Sacrifice


For the health and wellbeing of people and the planet, we need to change and we need to change now. As my friend Martin Scott says, the facades are down. We can see things clearly for what they are. That means we cannot and must not allow ‘business as usual’ to continue. This is our moment. We cannot simply carry on with the same old, same old. If ever there was a moment for us to change – it is now! Our economic model is literally destroying us. Our politics are increasingly tainted with a rhetoric of blame and fear. Unless we change now, with the backdrop of environmental disasters, food and water shortages, driven by human greed, then within a few short years, we will be facing war and humanitarian atrocities at a truly alarming scale.


Our only hope, is repentance. Repentance, as David Benjamin Blower tells us, IS the revolution. An old, biblical phrase which means to completely change our hearts and minds and instead live utterly differently. It means laying down our consumerism of the world and instead choosing to become good stewards of it, letting go of our own hedonistic selfishness in preference for the ‘other’ and sustainability of the earth. It means recognising that our economic model is broken and unjust, so we need to find a new way that is distributive and regenerative. It means learning to love our enemy rather than hate them, curtailing our excesses and learning to live more simply, caring for the poor instead of scapegoating them, promoting the welfare of children rather than constantly comparing and measuring them. It means breaking the chains of the global slave trade, stopping our appalling pollution now, not in 2050 and finding a way to live in peace.


This isn’t some hippy utopia, it is, I believe, what God always hoped for with us.  Repentance isn’t some weirdo religious experience, it is a gutsy, humble recognition that we’re in a mess and we need forgiveness from God, ourselves, each other and the planet. Repentance is a complete change of heart and mind, away from death to life, from greed to gift, from destruction to renewal, from darkness to light, from hate to love.


I  have found in my journey of faith in the person and teaching of Jesus, that only the love of God really changes my heart and deals with my pride, my greed and my selfishness.  Sadly, (predominantly) white, evangelical Christianity has aligned itself more with nationalism and free-market capitalism than what I read Jesus to teach in the scriptures. A dangerous theology has developed which equates a strong economy as being a sign of God’s ‘financial blessing’ and ‘favour’, giving little thought to the raping of the earth’s resources or the injustice upon which such ‘prosperity’ is built. When Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here”, he wasn’t saying that he was going to replace the Roman Empire with an even more awful and utterly destructive system. He was inviting us to open our eyes and see that the ways of God could not be more different to Empire and are about ‘life poured out love’ or ‘self-giving, others empowering-love’, where all are welcome, all are set free and all can become stewards of this way of kindness and peace. It’s not easy to go against the system – it takes sacrifice – but it is the only thing that can lead to our salvation – something we need more than ever.


I have little hope that any government or system, with all their vested interests, can or will take the precarity of our situation seriously enough. And so it falls to you and me – we the people together. Personal and corporate repentance. It’s time (As Michael Jackson sang) to look at the man or woman in the mirror – and make that change.


It is true, that our work may well feel apparently worthless, futile and achieve no result at all – in all honesty it’s why I’ve made excuses for not changing certain things (like eating beef far too often – though that changes now!)……so as Thomas Merton reminds us, we must focus on the value, the rightness and the truth of the work we must do, itself…….In the end….he says…..”it is the reality of personal relationships that save everything.” So, don’t feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it. Make your own repentance yourself and amongst your relationships and bit by bit, we might just make a difference. Doing nothing is not an option. Repentance IS the revolution – and a revolution is what we need. Grace gives the opportunity to make a fresh start. Are you ready for it? What changes will you make? If not now, when? If not us, who?



Sacred Economics – Gift

As a preface, let me just say that, in these short blogs I cannot do justice to Charles Eisenstein. I’m going to keep the posts to around 500 words to make them readble in small chunks. But, read his book! It’s even free on line and you can give a gift afterwards to him or someone else! Also, this is my own take on what he says and he may not agree with all my points!

His first chapter begins with these beautiful and profound words:

“In the beginning was the Gift”

Life itself is given. Ancient religions tell the stories of God making the world and giving the world to us, not to dominate over, but to steward. And if life is given, then our default state is one of gratitude. Gratitude knows that we honour or dishonour a gift by how we use it. Charles argues that having received a gift, it is a natural response or desire of gratitude to  want to give in turn. And this is the basis of sacred economics.

“Even after all this time 
The sun never says to the earth
“You owe me”
Look what happens
with a love like that,

It lights the whole sky” – Hafiz

Today’s economic system rewards selfishness and greed and has the appalling undergirding message that “more for you is less for me”. But this does not have to be true. Charles asks us what an economic system might look like that rewards generosity? What if “more for you is more for me”?! In community, gifts circulate and all lives are enriched as a result.

If human beings are made in the image of God, we have either greatly misunderstood divinity or taken a long journey away from it. In fact, we are so far away from it that we live in a world where “ruthless sociopaths rise to wealth and power and disempower the multitude”. We have to be realistic about our current state and that such tendencies can exist in everyone somewhere within us. We have until now been journeying with an economics of separation, of usury and scarcity (maybe controversial for some!). It is time to discover together an economics of reunion, of reconciliation, of gift, of hope and resource.

Economy is so much more than money, and money at its core can be a beautiful thing. It is, in its simplest form, a token of gratitude. It has been allowed to become something far more terrible, but it is not beyond us to reimagine its future.

As earlier posts on this blog to do with the subject of ‘Kenarchy’ show, I believe that gift is the very nature of God. God has always been one who gives of himself, who pours himself out in love for humanity and the world and calls us to become like Him in that. And as we pour ourselves out in love, we recover what it means to be truly human. There are dreadful theologies that paint God as some kind of far off Imperial dictator, who gave us the world to master it and dominate its resources. Domination and stewardship have nothing to do with one another. If we are to find a new future, we must recover our humanity, to become like God, and be those who become gifts to the world around us and use our money in that vain – to bring life and as much beauty as possible!