For me, divestment from fossil fuels has never just been about money.
It’s about living into our God-given vocation to be ourselves.
As a teaching elder, I often talk with Presbyterians about how the authors of Genesis put forth our original vocation as human beings—to love creation—and that that love for creation is a response to God’s love for us. In the New Testament, Jesus reminds us that the greatest commandment is about love: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.” (Deuternomy 6:5, Common English Bible)
We have to love God and creation with our whole selves.
I remember when I first fell in love with creation as a child in Northern Illinois and when I first had emotional reactions to the devastation of climate change in Northern California. I remember when I first realized that the destruction is so bad, that we must do and change everything or everything will be lost.
We must change how we treat creation, with all our hearts, all our being, all our strength… and for us in the United States, a great symbol of that is our wallets.
Where we put our money defines us and has great power. That power is why it matters what we buy at the supermarket (buying organic and local food creates greater demand for more organic and local food), why it matters what kinds of cars we buy (buying less gas for a hybrid vehicle creates less demand for fossil fuels), and why it matters what products we fill our lives with (even changing to recycled toilet paper changes demand for paper!) Where we put our money shows where our hearts are.
And so it matters where we put our investments—how we make money is a symbol for who we are as people who follow Jesus, people who are called love with our whole selves. If we make money from fossil fuel companies, it doesn’t matter if we put that money back into local food or hybrid cars or recycled paper—it’s money that comes from companies that burn fossil fuels and wreak havoc on the planet.
But again, it’s more than just about money. Money is symbol of where our hearts are.
We’ve forgotten our hearts and being and strength as people of faith—we’ve forgotten that we do have power to make change and to protect the earth. We have to change everything—we have to do everything—as individuals and as a denomination—to change the world we’re called to love.
With courage and God’s grace, we may still have a chance.