LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW

With all the challenges of these days, it is important to remember the hugely significant challenge of climate change and all those issues which came so much more to the fore at the time of the COP 26 Conference in Glasgow last November.

I met Frances Ward probably only once or twice when she was the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds and I was Moderator of the Eastern Synod for the United Reformed Church – but that was what made me notice her book Like There’s No Tomorrow: Climate Crisis, Eco-Anxiety and God – and what a great discovery.

I think it’s one of the best books that I have read for a while. She is describing a time of sabbatical spent on a narrowboat on the canals. The book is a mix of describing her travels and reflecting on ‘stuff’, particularly around the climate crisis and the anxieties it evokes in her. There is a good deal of theological reflection, in particular a dipping into the Psalms. It just really worked for me.

She is undoubtedly, and rightly, alarmed by the situation in which we find ourselves – but she cannot abandon the hope that we find in God. As she writes, “Hope is generated every time we turn towards the God who creates, seeking God’s love and forgiveness, looking for signs of the grace that energizes each particle of existence. Hope springs eternal, when we align ourselves with God’s creative power.”

Again, she comments: ”Even as it seems the whole of creation plummets towards catastrophe, God does not give up on the wonderful creation that God continues to create.”

Also: “To focus on our own hopelessness is to miss the meaning of God.”

I particularly liked a reference to Luther: “Luther apparently said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree.” That impulse is a good and true one: that even in the face of utter disaster and tragedy, we can still do things as if there is a tomorrow, trusting, hopeful in a love that transcends death.”

The book is abundantly clear as to the serious situation we face, but not to the exclusion of the God of hope.

Paul Whittle