The Intersection of Climate Change and Evangelical Churches

Thati

Hatched by Thati

Apr 14, 2024

4 min read

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The Intersection of Climate Change and Evangelical Churches

Title: Climate Change: A Missing Agenda in Evangelical Churches

Introduction:

Climate change continues to be a pressing issue worldwide, with its devastating effects becoming increasingly evident. However, it is surprising to note that this topic is not being discussed extensively within evangelical churches. The reluctance to address climate change within these churches can be attributed to the fear of jeopardizing pragmatic alliances, such as those with the agribusiness sector. Consequently, there is a lack of environmental engagement among the faithful, according to leaders in the evangelical community. They argue that many pastors do not incorporate the environmental agenda institutionally, not because they are climate change deniers, but because they fail to see significant incentives to embrace this issue robustly and systematically.

The Universality of Saudade:

On the other hand, saudade, a feeling of nostalgic yearning for the past, is not exclusive to the Portuguese culture. This sentiment resonates deeply within various cultures worldwide, including the Portuguese themselves. The word "saudade" was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese colonizers, and they also claim ownership of this sentiment. While we have songs in genres like samba, bossa nova, and sertanejo that express the particular sense of longing, the Portuguese have fado, a music genre that embodies nostalgia. In Portugal, saudade has been deeply rooted for centuries, strengthened by a history of farewells and irreversible voyages, and retold through their rich literary tradition. However, associating this feeling solely with a specific language implies that it is unique to a particular people, which is not entirely accurate. Expressing saudade transcends language barriers, as it represents the universal human experience of longing and loss.

The Multifaceted Nature of Saudade:

Saudade can be expressed in various ways, through nouns, verbs, and adjectives, providing different dimensions to this complex emotion. It represents the act of remembering with sorrow the absence, deprivation, or loss of someone or something dear. It encompasses a range of meanings, such as a "strong desire to see someone or something beloved" or "the suffering caused by love for someone who is far away." It encompasses the remembrance of past joy that will never return, the sorrow of not being able to experience that joy in the present, and the desire and hope to return to a previous state of happiness in the future. It captures the sentiment of loss and nostalgia, like the pain of not knowing what is happening to someone who is far away, the sadness or grief due to the absence or loss of something or someone, and the longing for one's mother's bread or coffee. Saudade can also be described as the sorrow or sadness after a loss or departure. Many languages have words to express a specific type of saudade, such as homesickness or longing for one's homeland. This notion of saudade also traces back to the Greek origin of the word "nostalgia." Nostalgia, therefore, represents the suffering caused by the desire to return to a specific place, preferably one we call home.

Connecting Climate Change and Saudade:

While seemingly unrelated, the topics of climate change and saudade share a common thread - the longing for what once was. Climate change has resulted in the loss of natural landscapes, biodiversity, and traditional ways of life, leaving many with a sense of saudade for the world they knew. The destruction caused by climate change evokes a deep yearning for the past, where the environment was more pristine and resilient. Recognizing this connection can help bridge the gap between the environmental movement and evangelical churches.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Education and Awareness: It is crucial to provide comprehensive education and raise awareness within evangelical churches about the realities and consequences of climate change. By showcasing the devastating effects on nature, communities, and future generations, pastors and congregations can develop a deeper understanding of the urgency to address this issue.
  • 2. Finding Common Ground: Emphasizing the shared values between evangelical beliefs and environmental stewardship can help foster engagement. Highlighting the biblical mandate to care for God's creation and emphasizing the importance of preserving the Earth as a gift from Him can resonate with the faithful and encourage them to take action.
  • 3. Encouraging Local Initiatives: Encouraging local initiatives within evangelical churches to implement sustainable practices can make a significant impact. Actions such as promoting energy conservation, reducing waste, and supporting renewable energy sources can demonstrate the commitment of these churches to environmental stewardship.

Conclusion:

While climate change may not be at the forefront of discussions within evangelical churches, it is essential to bridge the gap between environmental concerns and religious beliefs. By recognizing the universal nature of saudade and its connection to the longing for a healthier planet, evangelical churches can play a significant role in promoting environmental awareness and action. Through education, finding common ground, and encouraging local initiatives, these churches can embrace the environmental agenda in a robust and systematic manner. By doing so, they can contribute to the global efforts to combat climate change and ensure a sustainable future for all.

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