Wednesday 21 May 2014
On Monday 19 May, the Open Circle (our friendly St. Martin’s group of parishioners in their 20s, 30s, and beyond) hosted a film screening and theological discussion about the spirituality of the environment. Twelve people were in attendance, including Revd Richard Carter and some Open Circle leaders.
The event, ‘As the Waters Cover the Sea,’ began with a sampling of delicious food and drinks, all fair trade or sustainably sourced: cheese, tinned fish, bread, biscuits, salad, wine, coffee and more!
Next we screened part of the Channel 4 documentary series ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’ (specifically the first episode of the follow up programme, ‘Save Our Seas,’ first broadcast 14 February 2013). The video explores how illegal dynamite fishermen compete with small scale subsistence fishers in the Philippines. It profiles the scallop trawling industry off the Isle of Man; there, the 0.001% of British coastal sea floor which has been set aside as marine reserve has already repopulated scallop stocks, turning desert seascapes into rich marine habitats. And it tells how pressure from more than 850,000 ‘fish fighter’ voters from all over Europe actually changed the European Commission’s policy on ‘discards.’ Before this policy U-turn, different North Sea and European fishing fleets were forced to throw between 15% and 90% of their catch back into the ocean as dead meat.
The evening ended with a wide-ranging conversation about the practice and theology of sustainability. Tom Viita, who facilitated the meeting, pointed out that stories of Jesus’ resurrection often include intriguing glimpses of a transfigured natural world (e.g., John 21:1-12). Matias Wibowo introduced the concept of ‘Radical Christian Conversion’ as a way of approaching sustainability. He also announced the launch of St Martin’s new Spirituality and Sustainability Group, which will meet at least once a month to explore new theologies of the environment, and to plan concrete actions here in our parish.
One of the strongest themes of discussion was ‘Stewardship – is it enough?’ Some pointed out how much St. Martin’s has already done. Some questioned the power of stewardship as a guiding principle – maybe we should preach, pray, and talk about ‘radical conversion,’ or about ‘cosmic Christianity,’ instead.
The first meeting of the Spirituality and Sustainability Group will take place on a weeknight in the second half of June, at 6 St. Martin’s Place (date to be determined). If you would like to attend, or just to learn more, contact Matias at StMartinsOpenCircle@gmail.com.