For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Our home page provided the following Mission Statement for this site.
To work with people of faith and with churches to provide technically sound leadership in response to the predicaments of a finite world
At this page we provide analysis and discussion to do with this Mission Statement.
Elements of the Mission Statement
People of Faith
The materials at this site, blog and book are directed primarily to people of faith who are aware of the momentous changes that are taking place in the world, mostly to do with climate change. However, they hear so many conflicting messages that they are unsure as to how serious these changes may be and how they and their communities may be affected. They want to know the truth. They also want guidance as to how they can respond, and how they can best provide badly needed leadership.
The response to the predicaments we face can be either bottom-up (people working by themselves or in small groups), or it can be top-down. Both approaches are needed. The top-down approach often means working within existing large organizations, including the church.
The issues we discuss at this site are technically very complex and difficult to understand. Most church leaders do not have a background in mathematics, science or technology. Therefore, there is a danger that they could promote programs that are unrealistic and that cannot work.
The article Episcopal Renewable Energy Proposal provides an example of this concern. In the year 2019 the Episcopal Church (USA) issued a policy statement to do with renewable energy. On its surface, the statement is something that we can all support. However, an analysis of the proposal with regard to energy and project management basics shows that it is not technically feasible. Nor does it recognize project management realities.
It’s also good to take advice from that great philosopher, Homer Simpson. When told that daughter Lisa has invented a perpetual motion machine he rightly responds, “In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!”
A fundamental premise of the work at this site, the book and the blog is that we face predicaments, not problems. Problems have solutions, predicaments do not. When faced with a predicament we can respond and adapt, but we cannot make it go away. It is this way of thinking that lies at the basis of the second theological point, Accept and Adapt.
Finite World / Age of Limits
We live in a finite world. We are using up the earth’s resources such as fresh water, crude oil and fish in the sea. We are also filling up the environment with our waste products. (Of these the most serious is carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere.) And we are degrading and destroying the biosphere — ranging from coral reefs, to the Amazon rain forest, to iconic animals such as polar bears.
Another term that is used at this site to describe this dilemma is ‘Age of Limits’. Moreover, these limits are linked to one another, often in difficult-to-identify ways. A more detailed description of these issues is provided in the article: Age of Limits.
One topic that is not discussed at this site is social justice. This is not because the subject is not important — indeed, it is of central importance, particularly to people of faith. Those at the lower end of the economic scale are affected the most severely by events such as climate change. Yet the changes that we discuss are going to affect everyone, regardless of their social or economic standing. Our response needs to be for society as a whole.
Purpose of a Mission Statement
Mission Statements can also be understood by responding to the following questions.
What Do We Do?
We publish information at this web site, a Wordpress blog and in the book Faith in a Changing Climate. The aim of these publications is to provide information for people of faith as they consider their response to the Age of Limits dilemmas that we face.
An important part of this goal is to provide suggestions for a theology that is appropriate for our times (see the Theology page).
For Whom Do We Do It?
The information and thoughts that we provide are directed toward people of faith who recognize that we face major challenges in areas such as climate change, resource depletion and biosphere destruction. They are interested in developing a response that is in alignment with their religious beliefs and practices.
What value are we bringing?
Most of the material presented here is written by Ian Sutton — a member of the Episcopalian church and a chemical engineer. His technical background enables him to analyze data and to evaluate ideas for technical feasibility.
Mr. Sutton’s background, and his personal journey are provided at the My Journey section of this site.
In addition to working out a Mission Statement, it is important to establish the goals of this site, the book and the blog.
Goal #1 — Understand What Is Happening
The first goal is to provide people of faith, many of whom do not have a technical background, with an explanation as to what is taking place. We are facing a plethora of problems in many areas, including climate change, resource depletion and population overshoot. These issues are difficult to understand in and of themselves. But they also interact with one another in ways that are not only difficult to understand, they are often difficult to identify. On top of that we face an incessant stream of fake news, advertising, “truthiness” and misleading factoids. We need to We need to “Understand and tell the truth”, as discussed below.
Goal #2 — Develop a Relevant Theology
The second goal is to emphasize the need to develop a theology that is appropriate for the new and rather scary world that now inhabit. In the past, people of faith developed theologies that addressed their particular social and economic conditions. We need to do the same now. As a starting point, I suggest the following three theological points as a contribution to the discussion.
Understand and tell the truth.
Accept and adapt.
Live within the biosphere.
The meanings of these theological points are developed in greater detail at the Theology page.
Goal #3 — Determine a Response
The third goal is to help people of faith to develop a response to the predicaments that we face. The responses can take many forms; they can be organizational/political, or they can be practical, such as planting trees in the neighborhood, or they can be spiritually-focused. These three approaches are not mutually exclusive. For example, planting a tree is a practical action that can have a spiritual component. It may also be political in that others may be encouraged to do the same thing.
Some thoughts to do with how we might respond are provided at the Response page.