I may be out of touch, but I confess that the first time I ever heard the name Greta Thunberg was during a recent homily at our local parish. Our weekend associate pastor used the Gospel for September 29th about the rich man and Lazarus to make a point about climate change (see Lk 16:19-31). In the homily, the rich man represented the rich industrialized nations of the world and Lazarus represented the poor nations that suffer because of climate change, while the rich nations do nothing. The homily went on to suggest that we have a ray of hope found in a modern day teenaged prophetess named Greta who warns us of our impending doom.
I don’t think the average person in the congregation would consider questioning some of the base premises involved with such an analogy about climate change such as:
- Is the change (namely global warming) a deviation from normal considering Earths’ long history?
- If yes, is the change the root cause of additional suffering for poorer nations?
- If yes, is the root cause of the change the burning of fossil fuels (CO2 emissions)?
- If yes, is it certain that reducing or eliminating fossil fuels would alleviate the suffering?
- Is the science settled enough to make sweeping alterations to how we live?
Additionally…How much would forcibly reducing or eliminating fossil fuels hurt poor nations trying to industrialize? What about de-industrializing richer nations? Wouldn’t they become poorer, and therefore likely to reduce the aid they already send to the poorest nations?
Aside from the hidden presumptions needed to draw such an analogy from the Gospel, what I found most disconcerting was when the priest refereed to Greta as a prophet. Coincidentally, I then heard a similar concern on the Patrick Madrid show on October 2nd (go to minute 23). Patrick mentioned that the Church of Sweden (the Lutheran church in Sweden) announced that Greta is a successor to Jesus Christ. What could that possibly mean???
Given all the confusion, I wanted to link a post I wrote about climate change back in November of 2017. It’s written through the lens of a problem solving & decision making process we use where I work, so if someone is willing & able to set aside their emotional, political and even religious leanings, the post just might provide a detached point of view.