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Bishop Of South Sydney Addresses Climate Change

Thursday 4 January, 2007
by New College Admin
The environment is a big issue we all need to address says New College guest speaker.

The Bishop of South Sydney the Right Reverend Robert Forsyth gave a powerful address as guest speaker at the New College mid session formal dinner held last night. Around 230 staff, residents and guests gathered to have dinner and hear the Bishop.

Bishop Forsyth posed the following question to those in attendance – which of the big issues that we face today will still be the big issues in the year 2046? The big issues of the 60’s for example have come and gone – the Vietnam war, the white regime in Rhodesia not to mention the Cold War which looked like it would be permanent. But two of today’s issues, according to the Bishop, we can expect to remain with us for many years to come. The first of these is the threat posed to secular democracies by Islamist terrorism and the second issue that will still be a concern in 40 years time is the issue of climate change. On the first issue Bishop Forsyth commented that what Paul Kelly recently called ‘the Long War against Islamist terrorism represented by al Qaeda and its non-state networks’ will still be being waged in 30 or 40 years’ time.

Bishop Forsyth focussed on the environment and gave his blueprint for how we might be part of environmental campaigns for change to contribute solutions to the challenges facing the planet Earth. He put forward three ways of understanding our relationship with nature and the world around us – the first way is to see nature as a thing to be conquered or rescued. Alternatively, we could view nature as the sacred other. The third option which the Bishop commended to his audience was that of viewing ourselves as a part of creation yet entrusted with a special role by the Creator. In setting out these three different alternatives Bishop Forsyth provided examples of how such thinking can result in very different views on our role in responding to the reality of climate change. But in the end, without reference to a Creator who sustains the natural world, such views lead to positions of despair or empty hope. An example of the first kind is perhaps most evident in Monty Python’s The Galaxy Song from the movie The Meaning of Life. Bishop Forsyth was kind enough to give us a rendition of this song (unaccompanied!) and compare this view of humanity and the cosmos with the Christian world view that is propounded in Psalm 8. To see the full text of the Bishop's address please download the PDF.