A Good Surprise   Leave a comment

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“to see with the eyes of faith”

What if you anticipated giving away $2 million, and ended up giving away $10 million?

Here’s a story about a corporation that has done so.

http://www.patagonia.com/blog/2016/11/record-breaking-black-friday-sales-to-benefit-the-planet/?utm_source=em&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=113016_BlackFriday-Shipping&ett=151383347

Posted December 2, 2016 by allanbaker in Environment, Inspiration, Uncategorized

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Citizens in God’s Commonwealth   Leave a comment

Leviticus 19:33-34When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.  Leviticus 19:33-34 NRSV Anglicized


As we live through these “interesting times”, I found inspiration in the words of The Rev. Desmond Jagger-Parsons. Desmond is concluding his service as Chair of the ecumenical coalition known as KAIROS.  His concluding paragraph in his recent post on the KAIROS website reads:

“Like many of you, as an individual, I have a partisan opinion about what has happened in the US election and I have them in Canada as well.  Some in KAIROS have the same opinion, some different.  It doesn’t matter.  Our common work is the work of Love – let us profess it boldly, with conviction, employing our rights as citizens and demanding the same for all.  And although the times may be times of fear, let us remember proclamation of the angels in both testaments: Do not be afraid.”

The full reflection on “Citizens in God’s Commonwealth” is at:

http://www.kairoscanada.org/spirited-reflection-citizens-gods-commonwealth?

 

 

Humans voted in the U.S.A.   Leave a comment

Over the past week there has been plenty of commentary on the election of Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America.  People are people. What might be a constructive way forward?

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“Human qualities often come in clusters. Altruism, inner peace, strength, freedom, and genuine happiness thrive together like the parts of a nourishing fruit. Likewise, selfishness, animosity, and fear grow together. So, while helping others may not always be “pleasant”, it leads the mind to a sense of inner peace, courage, and harmony with the interdependence of all things and beings.”

Matthieu Ricard in the book, “Sustainable Happiness”, page 58

 

 

Relationship(s)   Leave a comment

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Wendell Berry, poet, author, farmer, contemplates our human relationship(s) with the rest of creation in a thoughtful essay titled, “The Presence of Nature in the Natural World: A Long Conversation.” He writes that:

The great trouble of our age, involving the human economy from agriculture to warfare, is in our relationship to the natural world – to what we call “nature” or even, still, “Nature” or “Mother Nature.” The old usage persists even seriously, among at least some humans, no matter how “objectivity” weighs upon us.”

“We seem to have forgotten that there might be, or that there ever were, mutually sustaining relationships between resident humans and their home places in the world of Nature.”

page 77 in “A Small Porch”, Counterpoint publishers, 2016

Ontario’s chance to get more from green energy   Leave a comment

Ontario has decided to take a pause in its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) efforts, citing an electricity supply surplus and a need to reduce costs for consumers.

Which all sounds pretty reasonable, but the devil is in the details.  First off, why do we have a surplus?Not because of solar and wind energy, which still makes up only a small fraction of our electricity supply, providing less than 7% of our power last year.

We have a surplus because Ontario operates three gigantic nuclear plants (including the world’s biggest – the Bruce Nuclear Station).  Demand for electricity has fallen over the past decade in Ontario due to changes in our economy (less heavy industry), conservation efforts, and new technologies (LED lighting), but we have not reduced our nuclear production accordingly.  The result is a large surplus of power.

Second, will stopping renewable power development lower costs for consumers?  Not likely. Ontario Power Generation recently asked the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the rate it is paid for nuclear power by 180% over the next decade.  Contrast that with the rapidly falling costs of wind and solar power.  For wind, we have already reached the point where it is more than competitive with nuclear power costs.  For solar, that crossing point is only a few years away.

Benefitting from the green energy revolution

Which means that we are at a crossroads.  Old energy technologies such as nuclear are being quickly overtaken by more flexible, easier to deploy and – increasingly – less expensive options such as solar and wind.  Ontario can try to ignore this worldwide trend or it can work through the transition and come out the other side with a more dynamic system that it is a better fit for our changing needs.

That’s the challenge that should be at the heart of the province’s current efforts to revise its Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). And that revised plan also needs to strongly support the province’s climate change efforts.  Far from needing less electricity, we will actually need substantially more if we are gong to de-carbonize our energy use by moving away from sources like natural gas for things like home heating and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.  Counting on 50-year-old inflexible nuclear plants to fill this need is taking the wrong path – we will be throwing good money after bad.

The government made a commendable decision to kickstart a new high-tech green power industry in this province.  That effort has led to thousands of new jobs and has set the stage for the next generation of Ontarians to thrive in a world of electric cars, distributed energy and smart grids.

The community advantage

We know the people of Ontario still support green energy – recent polling showed that 81% think we should continue to develop renewable sources like solar and wind.  But the public is rightly concerned about how we are currently going about this task.  Too often, they feel left in the dark by processes like the LRP program or the LTEP planning cycle.

So this “pause” gives us a valuable opportunity to rethink how we are going about the business of building a modern, green energy system.  When renewable power systems are developed locally by co-ops, school boards, municipalities or community organizations, they keep dollars and jobs in our communities, provide revenue that can used for everything from fixing arenas to improving schools, and enable those communities to become more resilient and better able to ride out severe weather events.

Through its Feed-in Tariff program, Ontario has quietly developed a leading-edge community power sector.  This is the foundation we need to build on in creating a healthy, safe, reliable and cost effective electricity system that is supported by communities because it puts communities first.

Bishops abandon KAIROS   Leave a comment

Theology in the Vineyard

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Just arrived from Canadian bishops the  CCCB.

(CCCB – Ottawa)… After careful reflection and discernment, the Catholic Bishops of Canada at theirPlenary Assembly, September 26-30, 2016, decided that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will end its membership in KAIROS, an ecumenical social justice coalition founded in 2001. This decision followed consultations with the CCCB Permanent Council, the Executive Committee, the Commission for Justice and Peace, and the Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue.

File it under “If we are not leading the parade, we are not in it.”

This has long been–at least since popes JP ll and Benedict- official institutional practice.If we can not control the agenda we are not part of it. After all we are the Roman Catholic Church.

The JP bishops never had much interest in justice and so they have pulled their funding from KAIROS …

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Posted October 14, 2016 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

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“Faith is a living thing – it is a category of the present.

It is not a once-for-all accomplishment.

It is not a possession, like a Visa card, that some have and others don’t.

It is an ongoing response to God, to the world, to life. It is therefore a matter of decision – taken not once, but over and over again, and in the presence of much evidence to the contrary.”

Douglas John Hall, Bound and Free, page 102