As I write, I see and hear the winds of Hurricane Sandy tear through the pine and oak forest outside my window. If I am honest, I will admit that it is frightening. This wind can kill.

Throughout the eastern United States tonight, coastal communities are facing flooding as the storm surge amplifies the natural rise of high tide. Sadly, in addition to purely natural causes, the dangerous intensity of this wind and flooding also owes something to humans. Because of our actions, there is more heat and more energy in the oceans and atmosphere, and that makes storms more violent.

If we are paying attention, we know that our actions contribute to climate change. Every time we drive in a car, every time we buy a new electronic gadget, every time we fly on an airplane, more greenhouse gases go into the air. We are part of the problem.

In traditional Christian language, we are sinners. But this is a different kind of sin from your great-grandmother’s sins of drinking, playing cards, and sleeping around. This is a kind of systemic sin in which we are participants in a huge system of behavior that is threatening untold other beings, human and non-human, here and far away, now and for centuries to come.

We need language that helps us recognize and admit that we are part of the problem. Mea culpa! I have sinned! We need practices that help us understand that even as we have caused harm, nothing can separate us from the love of God – that we are forgiven. And we need practices that allow us to change our harmful, sinful ways – to transform our lives in order to stop the actions that cause harm, and start working to repair the damage

 

Originally posted at Sunshine Faith