The resurrection: unsettling the world

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I was in a conversation recently in which the phrase “the joy of Easter” was repeatedly used. This is a joyous time of year, I was told, and our worship must reflect that. Indeed, the Bible tells us, some of Jesus’ followers were filled with joy when they heard of his resurrection.

In church this morning we read the resurrection account from the Gospel of Mark. It has another emotion: fear. When the three women going to anoint Jesus’ body find an empty tomb instead, the first thing the angel says is, “Do not be afraid.” The passage—and indeed the entire gospel, in its original form—ends with a most remarkable verse: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were very afraid.” (16.8)

Fear, terror—those don’t sound like “proper” Easter emotions to me. Most Easter services don’t end with everyone running away in terror. Why not?

One difference is that we have it figured out. I don’t mean we have all the answers but we can at least tell a story about why the resurrection happened. Christ died, is raised, our sins are forgiven, and a way to new life is shown. When we mark Good Friday, we already know how the story is going to end.

But what would our Easter look like if we could set aside our tidy retrospective interpretations of Easter morning and put ourselves there with those women on that first Easter morning? All their certainties and right answers were upended first when Jesus was crucified and now, again, in the most remarkable way in the early morning hours. Can we just sit with them at the frighteningly empty tomb?

We live in a world that prizes certainty and certitude. I know this in my own life because I know how uncomfortable I get when I don’t have an answer for everything. But if I let myself sit at the empty tomb with these women, all my opinions, answers, and expectations are challenged and upended. And when I’m left without answers, without certainty as to what I think I thought I knew, I’m left fearful and afraid.

To say that there is great joy in Easter is true. But that’s a retrospective evaluation that lets us off the hook without the unsettling experience of discovering the empty tomb.

Although we prize easy answers and certitude in our world, it’s clear that a lot of the answers we are living with are wrong. The world needs to be unsettled. The church itself needs to be unsettled.

But before any of that can happen, I need to be unsettled—and that happens when I bring myself back to that initial moment of discovery at the empty tomb and admit my expectations may not be fulfilled and my answers may not be the right ones.

What in your life—not the church’s life, the world’s life, someone else’s life, but your life—needs unsettling and shaking up? What expectations of ours will not be fulfilled? Can you—can I—live here and now without an adequate explanation for how things will work out?

To start asking these questions might be to begin to let the paschal mystery work its way into our being—to be the Easter people we are called to be.

Railway Man reconciliation

Sometimes—amid posts on this blog about various aspects of church life—you could be forgiven for forgetting that Christians have an actual gospel—good news—to share with the world.

I love finding this gospel message outside the walls of the church, off the pages of the Bible, and presented by people who aren’t professional religious specialists. The recent movie The Railway Man is one example. (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT.)

the-railway-manColin Firth plays a veteran of World War II, who was tortured by the Japanese and forced to build a railway through impossible conditions. He can barely cope with his memories more than four decades after the end of the war. Nicole Kidman is his wife, steadfast in her love for him and longing to see him move past the pain. Firth finds out that one of his torturers, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, is still alive and makes a living offering tours of what was once his prison camp.

This movie is soaked in themes of grace, judgment, redemption, forgiveness, and above all else, reconciliation. There are three moments in particular that vividly brought the gospel message alive for me. I’m not technically capable of putting them online, so my own description will have to suffice.

At one point, Firth ends up on a beach on the English seashore, alone in his pain and hurt, no doubt hoping the world will just stay away. But Kidman comes running after him, begging him, imploring him to share his pain with her, to receive her love, to be open to the idea that the world can do something besides harm us. One of my favourite themes in the Bible is of a God who pursues us in love, coming after us even when we are far away. Jesus tells us about that when the father of the prodigal son abandons all dignity appropriate to his position in life and goes running out to his son while the son “was still far off.” (Luke 15.20). It is a message that is echoed in Ephesians, which teaches how Jesus came to us “who once were far off” but have now “been brought near.” (2.13) And it is picked up in one of the post-communion prayers in Common Worship: “we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off…” Kidman embodies the pursuing love of God. And it is that love that begins to show Firth new possibilities.

It is Firth’s old war-time friend, Stellan Skarsgård, who finds out that Sanada is still alive. He shares this news with Kidman and then gives her a knife. Sanada, Skarsgård says, can at last “be brought to justice.” The knife, of course, makes clear that this is not the justice of a courtroom. Firth is to take matters into his own hands and at last give to Sanada what is his due.

THE-RAILWAY-MAN-Image-07Firth carries the knife with him to Malaysia and at times it seems as if he is going to use it in the way that Skarsgaard intends. Instead, however, in a deeply symbolic move, he uses it to cut Sanada free from the cage in which Firth was once imprisoned and in which Firth has temporarily imprisoned Sanada. This is grace, not justice. Sanada, by the standards of the world, does not deserve to be set free. But he is because Firth comes to understand that justice will serve no one. Christians do not “deserve” the love of God, but God sends that love in the form of Jesus regardless. God uses a weapon—the cross—to set us free. God’s love is not justand we thank God for that.

The final scene of the movie is a moment of reconciliation. That r-word is thrown around a lot in the church. Good—it is the concept that is central to the gospel. But sometimes it’s hard to know precisely what is meant by it. This final scene give us some idea. Under the loving gaze of Kidman, Sanada and Firth meet, weep, and embrace at the site of the particularly gruelling pass the Japanese had forced the prisoners to build.

railwayWhat does this teach about reconciliation? First, reconciliation happens within the love of God. It is God’s love that is constantly impelling us towards one another in that same spirit of love. Second, reconciliation is about meeting together. Sanada and Firth actually had to come to the same place. Third, reconciliation is about honestly acknowledging pain, both in oneself and in the other. Earlier, one moment of breakthrough for Firth had been when he realizes that Sanada is broken and hurt by the war as well. Fourth, reconciliation honestly reckons with the past. Sanada and Firth meet at the very site—the train pass—that had caused them each, in different ways, such pain and trauma. Reconciliation doesn’t happen by disregarding the past but by coming to see it in a new way—transformed by the love of God.

If you ask me why I’m a Christian, the answer is provided by this movie: the pursuing grace of God that is constantly moving us towards reconciliation. This is truly good news.

Justice and grace in the vineyard

When I was growing up, I would often amuse myself during church with a series of illustrated children’s books that told Bible stories. I have a very distinct memory of the book that told the story of the labourers in the vineyard (Matthew 20.1-16). There were pictures of the vineyard-owner going into town in the morning to hire workers to help with the harvest. Then he went back later and hired more, and then still more, and even more. Finally, at the end of the day, he hauled out his big money trunk and started handing out coins to each worker—the same amount to each worker!

I have such a vivid memory of this book for one reason:

I hated it.

the-parable-of-the-workers-in-the-vineyard“Listen, Jesus,” I wanted to say, “you might have some good things to say elsewhere in these stories, but I think someone has given you a pretty poor steer here. If people work different amounts of time during the day, they should be paid differently. The people who showed up in the morning need to get more than those who showed up late in the day. It’s only just.”

As my seven-year-old response shows, considerations of justice are deeply rooted in our western society. There’s good reason for this. At least since the time of Plato and Aristotle, people have debating what justice means and how to make it central to the functioning of a society. It is a central concept in the Judeo-Christian tradition as well. Over time, we imbibe a clear understanding of what justice is. It is just to give to each what it is his or her due. That’s what’s fair. That’s what’s right. That’s what’s just.

But what this parable reminds us is that the love of God is almost the opposite of justice. God’s love for us is completely undeserved. We call it grace. There is nothing we can do that would make it fair or right for God to shower that love on us—but God does so nonetheless. Christians are people who called to share that same unjust love with others, through mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

It took me a very long time to come to peace with this parable. Until one day, as these things go, I realized all of a sudden my mistake: I was identifying with the wrong people in the story. Ever since my first encounter with the parable as a child on a pew, I had always imagined the story from the perspective of the early risers, the people who had been working all day only to be paid the same amount as the people who arrived at the end. My sense of justice was offended because I was feeling short-changed.

What I realized is that, in fact, when it comes to responding to God’s love, I am one of the latecomers, the people who barely work and still get the full day’s wage. And what a joy that is, to arrive late and receive the unearned grace of God. It’s also a good definition of the church: not a bunch of perfect, hard-working early risers but the collection of latecomers who keep a look out for other latecomers to welcome them in.

There’s one final piece of this parable that I only noticed this week. I had always thought—probably because this is what that children’s book said—that the vineyard owner goes looking for more workers because he needs more help. In fact, all the story says is that he went into town and happened to find people without work. Even more unjust! He was just passing out money to people whose labour he didn’t even need!

But it is yet one more indication of the nature of the grace of God. Not only is it unearned, God’s love is a love that comes seeking after us to draw us in. God pursues us in love for no other reason than that God loves us.

As I’ve written before on this blog, God’s love is not just—and we thank God for that.

Purity and presence

“Can human beings be pure before their Maker?” -Job 4.17

One of the great challenges of living in the twenty-first century is the way we are forced into daily complicity with a system whose values we struggle to embrace.

I want to see a broad-based economic recovery in which the employment rate genuinely rises—but I love it when the stock market performs well and my investments increase in value.

I want a global economy that ensures decent working conditions for all people—but I love the latest electronic gadgets (including the device I am writing this post on) that come out of factories with deplorable conditions.

I want our world to seriously address climate change—but I also want to be able to fly around the world and not worry about my carbon footprint.

The dominant response of our contemporary culture is to make choice the highest good: as long as people are “free” to choose, then surely nothing is wrong with the situation. Invariably, however, it seems I end up “choosing” those things which go against the values I ostensibly prize. To live in our world today is to live in a compromised position.

But no one likes to admit they are compromised. An increasingly common response is to strive for purity.

The Tea Party in the United States finds it focus in a quest for the pure Republican politician, who is not tainted by the compromises inherent in the political process.

Political pressure groups refuse to compromise, arguing that since their way is the only right way, compromising would be a form of moral surrender.

People group together into ever more like-minded groups identified by a series of tribal markings—the clothing brands we wear, the stores we patronize, the cars we drive.

(There are also some really interesting gendered aspects to purity as well, as if purity is somehow the particular domain of women. That, at least, is what I surmise from my Google image search for purity, which returned a number of images of women in various stages of undress.)

But the nature of the world we live in means that all our efforts towards purity are necessarily bound to fail.

For Christians, purity is a false goal. Christians understand that each of us is a flawed, imperfect being—”For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” writes Paul to the Romans (3.23). Despite our best efforts to distinguish the pure (us) from the impure (them), “there is no distinction.”

So perhaps the Christian response to the complicated world in which we find ourselves begins by acknowledging the truth about it all: yes, it’s impossible to live the uncompromised life in this world; yes, some people benefit more than others from the structures of this world; yes, we are each affected and infected by the way in which the world is structured, no matter how hard we may try to pretend otherwise.

Then, having told the truth that purity is a false goal, Christians can begin to point the way to a new future, in which our common imperfection is recognized, redeemed, and transformed in the love of God in Christ.

It’s a complicated, compromised world we live in—best to tell the truth about it, rather than pretend to aim for something impossible.

The secret to changing the world—all is revealed in the Great Vigil of Easter

If you’re like me, there are lots of things about the world you’d like to see change. I’d like to live in a world that pays less attention to the latest pseudo-celebrity and more to the lives of the poor and marginalized. I’d like to live in a world in which free speech means all voices have an equal chance to be heard, not just those with the most money behind them. I’d like to live in a less violent world, in which the escalating proliferation of weapons can be reversed. The list, of course, goes on and on.

The Christian faith constantly holds forth a vision of a different world in its central sacrament, the Eucharist. When Christians gather to remember the Last Supper, they enact a vision of world in which neighbours actively practice reconciliation with one another, all share with one another what the Lord has blessed them with, and all are ultimately dependent on the forgiving grace of God. On Thursday evening, as Christians remembered the first time this meal was celebrated and heard afresh the commandment to love as we have been loved, we were saying, in effect, “This is the kind of world we want to belong to.”

You don’t need me to tell you that it takes a lot more than good intentions to bring that world about. That’s what Good Friday is about, that time when Christians say, “This is the kind of world we live in,” a world in which God can come to earth in grace and love and be rejected, despised, and scorned. When the love of God comes in contact with the ways of the world, the result is the cross.

But there is another message of Good Friday: somehow, I am complicit in all this. On Palm Sunday, the congregation sings—as the people of Jerusalem once did—”Hosannah to the Son of David.” On Good Friday, that same congregation continues in the role of the people of Jerusalem during the reading of the Passion, only this time they say, “Crucify him!” We hold back the world from attaining that vision held forth in the Eucharist.Various

And so we come to the Great Vigil of Easter, a service that begins in darkness on Saturday evening. It is the darkness that follows the death of Good Friday, the darkness of a world in which the Eucharistic vision of a transformed world no longer seems possible. And in this service, Christians express the very heart of their faith. We say, “Another world is possible—and we know how to get there.”

The key is in the act that is at the centre of the Vigil: baptism. In baptism, we die the death of Christ, dying to our selves, our brokenness, our ideologies that disfigure the world. And then we are raised to new life with Christ, free from our past and able to live lives shaped by the same grace, mercy, and truth that shaped Christ’s life. Renewed in baptism, we celebrate the Eucharist, proclaiming afresh, “This is the kind of world we want to belong to.” As baptized Christians, we make this affirmation with a new piece of knowledge: in order for the world to change, each one of us needs to change.

The liturgy of the church enacts a particular kind of understanding, a unique way of looking at the world. I’ve been a baptized Christian virtually my entire life and I’ve spent virtually my entire life learning in one way or another all the ways in which I still need to die to myself and be raised anew with Christ. The sacraments aren’t magic. Rather, they are signs of the grace with which, by faith, Christians keep moving towards a new world. But that’s why we need to keep coming back to our Christian communities, keep celebrating the sacraments, keep reminding ourselves of what is possible, keep reminding ourselves of how to get there, and keep inviting others to share in this transformed life. The Christian answer to the problems of the world is not a quick fix but the journey of a lifetime.

Baptism and Eucharist are intimately connected. As we celebrate the risen Christ, we see that connection, see how our world needs to change, and see how, as forgiven, redeemed, and transformed people, we can move towards that new world.

Christ is Risen. May we share in that risen life.

Crucifixion in Abuja, Nigeria

On this day, Good Friday, Christians commemorate one moment of crucifixion two thousand years ago—but we also reflect on all the other moments of crucifixion that continue to take place in our world even today.

One moment of crucifixion this week was the bombing of a bus station and market outside Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. It is a moment of crucifixion whenever innocent people are killed, whenever violence tears apart our societies and brings grief and suffering in its wake. When I saw this picture, I thought of the women with Jesus at the cross reacting to his death sentence and execution.

I was in Nigeria in June 2011 when a similar bombing happened at Nigeria’s police headquarters in Abuja. I was well away from Abuja but what I remember so clearly about that time was how on edge everyone was afterwards. It’s understandable. These kinds of killings make us question what we think we know about our safety and security.

I particularly remember all the rumours I heard in church on the Sunday after the 2011 bombing. One rumour in particular was making everyone nervous: Boko Haram, the Islamist group thought to be behind the attacks, had tried but failed to bomb a church in the town of Enugu, not far north from where I was. Not only for me, but for everyone else, this brought the terror home in a deeply personal way: was our church next? Would we be the next victims? And if not us, what about friends and relatives at other churches in the region? I never actually learned if the the rumour of what had happened at Enugu had any truth to it but it had clearly done its job: everyone was on edge.

An environment like this, so shaped by such pervasive insecurity, shapes one’s approach to the gospel and to church. Some months back, when a Nigerian archbishop was kidnapped, I posted an excerpt of my book, Backpacking through the Anglican Communion, that reflects at greater length on how the Nigerian church is shaped by this context. In brief, however, people come to church looking for assurance, constancy, and steadfastness. They want to hear about a God who protects (when it seems no one else will) and who will defeat one’s enemies (when it seems no one else can). The result is a church that is about confidence, steadfastness, and fidelity to a particular interpretation of the Bible.

But what these holy days remind us is that this is not the only approach to crucifixion. Christ’s response to crucifixion was not to return as a vengeful, wrathful victim, seeking to inflict retribution on those who had wronged him. Rather, Christ’s response to crucifixion was to return to life as a forgiving, reconciling presence whose followers sought to create a new community that would include even those who had once put their leader to death.

Although the church makes the journey in a handful of days, it can take a long time to go from the crucifixion of Good Friday to the forgiveness of the risen Christ. Indeed, it is the journey of a lifetime. But it is the journey that all Christians are called to make, a journey that begins not in a place of strength but in a place of weakness and humility.

Crucifixions remain all around us in this world of ours. But Christians know that Good Friday is not the end of the story.

And that is good news.

Telling the truth

In church this morning, we read a part of the Christmas story (Matthew 2:13-23) that doesn’t often make our pageants: the massacre of the all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem by King Herod. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph flee to Egypt. Jesus begins his life as a refugee in Africa. It is an event that is remembered as the Massacre of the Holy Innocents.600px-Matteo_di_Giovanni_002

It is a deeply disturbing and troubling story, particularly to a culture that has come to associate Christmas with shepherds, wise men, the odd sugarplum fairy, and lots and lots of presents. It is easier to think about those things than it is to think about soldiers marching through the streets of Bethlehem looking for children to kill.

But by including this story in his telling of the Christmas story, I think Matthew is doing an important thing: he is telling the truth. The Christmas story contains this brutal and awful bit because the world that Jesus was born into really could be brutal and awful. Our world is no different, whether it is in violence in the Central African Republic, Syria, or South Sudan, or the more hidden brutality of children who go to bed hungry, people without a home at night, or any of the number of social problems in our society.

Christians are people who tell the truth. Christians are people who describe the world around them honestly, praising and rejoicing at appropriate times but also frankly confronting the difficult and challenging parts of our lives. The church is a community of truth-tellers.

I thought about this when I read about what Bishop Hilary Garang of Malakal, South Sudan told the BBC the other day: this violence is not right; we need mature leaders who are capable of settling their differences without resorting to violence. That is a moment of truth, particularly when political leaders are going around saying that their enemies have to be eliminated.

But you don’t have to go all the way to South Sudan to tell the truth. This week, Rowan Williams—who is now, inter alia, the patron of a food-bank organization—criticized the government for its comments about people who seek help from food banks. He said, in part:

It is not political point-scoring to say that these are the realities of life in Britain today for a shockingly large number of ordinary people – not scroungers, not idlers – but men and women desperate to keep afloat and to look after their children or their elderly relatives.

In austerity Britain, where the need for food banks has exploded in recent years, this is simply telling the truth—even and especially if it makes those in power uncomfortable.

Christian truth-telling begins with ourselves. That is why our services have times of confession when we can honestly assess our own lives and hear the true words of forgiveness and absolution. Churches are places where when people ask us, “How are you?” we don’t have to feel pressured to say, “Oh, just fine,” but can say, “Well, actually things aren’t going so well. Will you pray with me?” That the church isn’t always this place is an indictment of the church that we should face honestly.

There really is a lot of hope and peace and love and joy in the Christmas story—just as there is in the world. But the Massacre of the Holy Innocents reminds us that that is not all there is. Christians are people who honestly face both the joys and the challenges of this world, who tell the truth about them, and who work to bring about God’s peace for our communities and this world.

“Let the press come to me…”

Pope Francis’ impromptu press conference on a plane has lit up social media today. His comments on women, homosexuality, the Vatican bank, and much more have given people plenty to chew on.

Here’s one thing I found interesting: Francis stood there for nearly 90 minutes and answered questions. When was the last time any major public figure did that? President Obama? Nope. He gave a great speech on race last week, and then walked out without answering questions. When public figures make major campaign announcements—Hillary Clinton endorsing same-sex marriage, for instance—it is done in a polished video which we all watch, but of which none of us can ask questions.

What I love about this picture is how interested and engaged the pope seems with his questioner. How many public figures can you think of who feel that way about the press? The press? Keep your distance from them, please.

One of the defining characteristics of Jesus’ ministry was his accessibility: the children, the woman who grabbed at his cloak as he walked by, the woman sitting at the well, etc., etc. It’s something Francis has done as well, and something he talked about in his press conference:

I could be close to the people, greet them, embrace them, without armored cars. During the entire time, there wasn’t a single incident. I realize there’s always a risk of a crazy person, but having a bishop behind bulletproof glass is crazy, too. Between the two, I prefer the first kind of craziness.

I think accessibility is good—to the press, to the people, the sick, the young, the rich, the old, women, men, gay, straight. The more we are in relationship with people, the more we are engaging those who are different to us, the more we are open to what spontaneously happens, the more I think we are living into the world God is calling us to.

So whatever you think about what Francis said today—and there is a lot there to digest—I hope some other public figures follow his lead and wander to the back cabin of their planes on their next trip.

I’d prefer that kind of craziness, too.

The answer to injustice isn’t more justice, it’s…

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Last year, when Trayvon Martin was killed, I put on my clerical collar and joined a march in New Haven, Connecticut, protesting the shooting and the apparent inaction of authorities in arresting the shooter, George Zimmerman. Our claim was one of justice—the shooting was an injustice and it needed to be remedied. “No justice, no peace,” we chanted. The speakers that day called for the arrest and trial of George Zimmerman. That is, they wanted to remedy the injustice of the death by applying justice to the situation. We call our courts the “justice system” after all.

We got what we wanted. Zimmerman was arrested, tried, and, as we all know by now, acquitted. No one seems satisfied with the outcome. Our desire for more justice has not remedied the injustice of the situation.

There are many ways to think about this verdict—for instance, there may be unjust laws that, when applied in the context of the justice system, produce unjust results—but I am struck by this disjunction: as protestors, we got what we wanted—but no one is now satisfied.

The Christian faith recognizes the reality of injustice in the world—how could it not?—but the answer the Christian faith gives to injustice is not more justice. The answer Christians give is grace, above all the grace expressed in forgiveness.

Jesus once told a story (Luke 15:11-32) about a son who (justly) demands his half of his inheritance early. The father (justly) gives it to him. But then the son squanders it and comes home. The elder son (justly) says the younger son has no claim on anyone. But the father runs out to meet his younger son and showers him with forgiveness. You can hear the father saying, “Forget justice; forgiveness brings my son back.”

Forgiveness does not stand alone, however. It is closely linked to another idea Jesus taught—repentance. The younger son had to acknowledge he was wrong, turn again (the literal meaning of the word “repent”), and come home to know his father’s forgiving love.

The tragic truth is that nothing will bring Trayvon Martin back in this life. Lamenting his loss and mourning his death are important tasks and we should not move quickly past them. But I have been wondering what role forgiveness and repentance plays in all this. Can we repent of the way racism infects our daily interactions? Can we see the new possibilities that God is opening up for us? Can we forgive George Zimmerman and pray he sees his way to a grace-filled future?

I hope so. It’s the direction the Gospel is always calling us to go.

(My thinking in this post is influenced by the wonderful piece Samuel Wells wrote for The Christian Century some months back and a post from seminary colleague Josh Rodriguez.)

YIMBYism

Some years ago, I met a man named Stanley Tom. He lives in a village named Newtok in the Kuskokwim River delta in western Alaska. At the time, Newtok was literally eroding away. Since then, the process has only sped up (and grabbed headlines in the Guardian not long ago). Newtok is a casualty of global warming—its riverbank is being eaten away and it is sinking into the tundra around it.

At the time, Stanley Tom was the one in charge of moving the village. You could see the toll the work had taken on him—he looked exhausted, beaten down, and about ready to give up. He understood that the challenges facing his village were due to global warming, but he also said that his village was doing what it could to address the issue:

We all did quit using trash bags already in the stores. We’re using shopping bags. And we’re trying to help the problem that they are telling us, you know, and I don’t think we’re the big impact. We’re just a small amount and we’re trying to help the problem right now.

I live in England now and every day on my commute I pass by these windmills.

IMG_9711Windmills are controversial in England. In a village not far away, there’s a proposal for a new wind farm which is generating intense opposition. The same is true all over England. Whatever the merits and demerits of each individual case (and they may be considerable), it is true that wind farms are a classic example of NIMBYism—not in my backyard.

But every day when I go past these turbines, I think of Stanley Tom and the village of Newtok and I realize that I believe in YIMBYism—yes in my backyard—and I do so because of my Christian faith.

Global warming is already creating unequal burdens on people around the world. Stanley Tom and the people of Newtok are one example of those who bear those burdens particularly heavily. The Bible says that we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Because I believe that I am knit together into one entity called the body of Christ with other people around the world, I believe I am called to help Stanley Tom bear his burdens.

Yes, it is true that having wind farms creates problems for people around where I live. But it is also true that they help (in a very small way) address some of the challenges Stanley Tom is facing. When I see those wind turbines, I think of how they are helping Stanley Tom bear his burdens. That, to me, outweighs the obstacles they pose.

My meeting with Stanley Tom is indelibly imprinted on my mind. I will never be able to forget his stories about how global warming is affecting his home and his daily life.

So forget NIMBYism—let’s be YIMBYs.