Recently Bill McKibben (350.org) wrote a short note to readers of Tikkun magazine that serves as a good update on the fossil fuel divestment movement as a tool for combating climate change and shifting us toward a renewable energy economy.
Over the past year I’ve met with a number of groups discussing “the divestment strategy,” comparing it to the anti-apartheid divestment movement (see Loosing the Bonds by Robert Massie). In those conversations I’ve seen very good people come out for and against the use of this tool.
I’m avowedly “pro.”
Those who are “con” usually get there because 1) taking on financial industries is outside their area of expertise so it seems impossible or 2) it will divert too much “people energy” away changing federal policies.
I (and about 200 others) will be risking arrest today downtown at the corporate offices of the Environmental Resources Management company at 17th and I Sts NW, in Washington, D.C.
ERM is the “independent contractor” hired by the State Department (and regularly used by TransCanada) that assessed the Keystone XL pipeline to be “climate neutral.” This is the first time their offices have been in the spotlight. The demonstration is organized by 350.org.
As you know, I’ve been working against the Keystone XL since 2011. In the last 6 weeks, TransCanada has been feeling the pressure. They’ve hired an “crisis communications” company to handle all their press and promotions. They’ve pushed out all kinds of new advertising (including green TransCanada banner ads in the iPhone version of The Washington Post).
They are spending millions and millions of dollars. The only thing we can do is interpose our bodies. As Paul put it when writing to the Jesus-followers living in the belly of the beast, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
There is a support rally beginning at 11am at Farragut Square. Then the group will walk to the building at 17th & I Sts. Some folks will proceed into the building. Others will maintain a legal presence on the sidewalk outside. If we are arrested, the likely scenario is that we will be taken to the Second District police station and post bond from there. There is a very slight possibility that we would be held over the weekend.
I’d also covet your prayers – especially that I remain calm and unafraid. You can follow some of the event on Twitter @350 or #nokxl or @sojocreation.
V. Henry T. Nguyen is an Angeleno and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who has “pretty much become a pacifist,” he says. He’s got his doctorate in New Testament and is an adjunct prof at several schools in Southern California. (He blogs at Punctuated Life.)
I’m printing the whole thing here because I think it’s an important read.
St. Paul the Pacifist: A Christian Response to Torture
By V. Henry T. Nguyen
The recent Pew findings—that churchgoers, especially white evangelical Protestants, are more likely to believe that torture can be justified—have caused many commentators to wonder whether particular forms of Christian theology engender an acceptance of the use of torture.
In a recent article on Religion Dispatches, Sarah Sentilles suggests that Christian theologies and images of Christ’s crucifixion (essentially is an act of torture) have influenced some Christian communities’ understanding of torture as salvific, necessary, and justified. This view of torture is especially fueled by what is known as atonement theology: the view that Jesus’ death provided reparation for humanity’s sins against God.
So what would a Christian theological response against torture look like?
Most Christian theologies are rooted in the writings of Paul, who is particularly celebrated this year by the Catholic church on the bimillenial anniversary of the apostle’s birth; Paul provides the earliest interpretation of the meaning of the crucified Christ. People often forget, or are not aware, that nowhere in the gospels does Jesus himself explain the meaning of his own suffering on the cross. But Paul does.
And I believe that if we were to bring Paul into our current dialogue about whether Christians should support the use of torture, his response would be a resolute “No!”