Well-known 'TV vicar' the Rev Peter Owen-Jones is to be the main speaker at a gathering of green Christians in London on 5 March 2011.
The day-long conference, entitled ‘End of the Age of Thorns’, is being organised by Christian Ecology Link.
It will “address today’s perennial problems in order to find a hope-filled way out of them - our relationship with money, the morality of credit, a credible alternative to consumerism and the throw-away society.”
Peter Owen Jones is well-known for his programmes ‘How to Live a Simple Life’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’.
He says the idea for ‘How to Live a Simple Life’ came to him in 2008, as he watched the banking system crumble around the world. “It was just after the credit crunch hit,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘This is insane. We’re facing this massive meltdown and we’re all being asked to spend money. There’s something unwell here. This desire for wealth is bad.’
“We can all afford to give a great deal more. We’re not attuned to that any longer. We see those without money as failing in terms of the society we’ve created. I don’t want my children growing up to think that. I’m not saying that religion is the only answer, but we’ve asked if money is the only answer and shown that it isn’t.”
Also billed to appear at the conference are sustainability expert Professor Tim Cooper, who will introduce an alternative philosophy with workshops on “Green Economics”; and campaigners Ashley Ralston and Ruth Jarman, who will run a variety of interactive workshops, on “Shopping as if the Planet Mattered” and “Greening the Church”.
A challenging new initiative participants will explore is called “ecocell”, a programme for a personal journey to zero carbon. The co-ordinator for ecocell, Tony Emerson, will be available at the conference to help people find out more.
One CEL member commented: “What I hope to gain from this conference is an understanding of how - when every world religion rejects consumerism, the acquisition of wealth and goods for the mere sake of it - Christians in the West have so often been swept along in its tide, seemingly without much thought. And from an economist I hope to hear an alternative view of economics - is there another way, one which treads lightly on the earth and in which all of creation is honoured and poverty becomes a thing of the past?”
Professor Tim Cooper added: “Christians ought to be distinctive as consumers. Our shopping bags should reflect our values...The church needs to consider why its members so readily succumb to high street temptations despite clear Biblical warnings about materialism. We cannot expect Christians to be immune from the psychological and socio-cultural pressures that lead to excessive consumption.”
Cooper, who is Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University, has recently edited a new book, Longer Lasting Products: Alternatives To The Throwaway Society (Gower Publishing, 2010) which provides authoratitive guidance on how people can move away from a throwaway culture towards an economy sustained by more durable goods.
He was a co-founder of Christian Ecology Link and is also the author of Green Christianity (Hodder & Stoughton, 1990).
More on CEL: http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk