A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Episode 22: DATING?!, Best and Worse Advice & Climate Change Inequality

July 29, 2021 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 22
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 22: DATING?!, Best and Worse Advice & Climate Change Inequality
Show Notes Transcript

Questions for the Week:

  • What is your experience dating as a church leader/person of faith who is active in the church? 
  • What is some of the best and worst advice you've ever received from someone in church? 

Special Guest:
Rev. Dr. Gregory Simpson, Pastor at Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church, Chair of the Environmental & Climate Change Sub-committee of MRTI

Guest Question:
How can we as a society simultaneously work to address issues of global climate change that do not exacerbate or perpetuate other issues and inequalities such as poverty and access to resources? How can this be done in a way that builds community, instead of simply looking for a "quick and easy solution" that disregards potential consequences?

Resource Roundup:

00:03 – Simon Doong

Hello, and welcome to a matter of faith of presby podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question. Because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith,


00:21 – Lee Catoe

Whether it be faith in God, faith and others or faith in yourself. We are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unfound, the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian Church, USA. I am your host, Lee Catoe.


00:39 - Simon Doong

And I'm your host Simon Doong.


00:41 - Lee Catoe

Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions. Well, hello, everyone. Welcome to a matter of faith presby podcasts. We are really excited to be on today. How are you, Simon?


00:58 – Simon Doong

I'm doing all right, Lee. I feel like we talk about the weather a lot. But that's because the weather right now and summertime is a constant. It's a constant battle, I think in many battle in many parts of the of the country in the United States. And it's hot. But I'm here and I am grateful for air conditioning and privileged to have that. And I pray for those who do not.


01:22 – Lee Catoe

Yes. And now like this week. This week that we're recording like this is the week that Portland and Washington and all those states up that way are just experiencing like, terrible heatwave. So yeah, prayers for everyone out there and this summer. Yeah, but other than that, um, what else is going on, Simon?


01:48 – Simon Doong

Well, you know, it's, uh, as we record this podcast, there's some vacation time on the horizon, which I'm really looking forward to it. There's some holidays, looking at taking some time off and hopefully relaxing a little bit. How about you, Lee? I know you have some big moves coming up.


02:05 – Lee Catoe

So yeah, my partner and I were moving to DC. And as we're recording this, this week, we're going to, to DC to close on a place to live and all these kinds of things. And so it's very exciting. But it's also just a lot, a lot, a lot at one time. So but yeah, it's all good things. It's all good things heading up to DC. So will officially be moved at the end of July. So maybe by the time this podcast comes out, well be Almost there. Almost there. Yeah. Well, this week, we have some very interesting questions. And yeah, we'll just get to we'll just we'll just hop straight to them. So got a question in asking about the dating life of a person of faith. “What is your experience dating as a church leader, or a person of faith who is active in the church?” Now I will preface and say, of course, Simon and I we identify as men, and so our experiences are going to be very different. But me and Simon are very different, too. So our experiences will be different. But Simon, what has been your experience and dating as a person of faith?


03:21 – Simon Doong

So, it's been actually very interesting. I met my, my significant other, who I like very much. I met her through the church through campus ministry. I didn't necessarily go into church or campus ministry, looking to date or looking to find someone to date. But you know, I did. I'm grateful for it. Very much. So. And the one thing that was really nice about meeting someone in that context was that I knew that we had at least a few shared values such as faith, such as church. So that's kind of nice to have a little bit of Common Ground even in the initial sort of getting to know someone in that process. But in the sort of wider dating, dating question, I do you think this is very interesting, because for example, I am not a dating apps person myself, for a number of reasons. But one of the things I always wondered about was, when you go on your dating app, and you put down some facts about yourself or you you list some of those characteristics that you can put on your profile, if you put something related to faith, is that helping or hurting you in that in your desire to try to get someone's attention who has never met you and is literally only seeing your three pics and whatever you responded to these questions. And so I think that, in that respect, I was never quite sure what I would put down for those. And if I wanted to talk about faith, even though I definitely consider myself a person In the face, because I feel like, as we've talked about on previous podcasts, some people have a very bad experience with the church because of historical harms. And there's also just some stereotypes that also exist around being a Christian. And so I was never sure what I wanted to put about that into a dating app profile. Again, I don't use them for a number of reasons. But that was one I was like, I don't know how to reconcile this. And this just sounds like too much to try to explain, or have someone understand just by swiping on to my profile and reading a few things. I also think that in the sort of dating question as a person of faith is that there's questions that do come up, I think, as even when you're if you're not currently dating someone, you're single, you ask these questions like, Oh, I wonder if I could date someone of a different faith or a different belief, or even if we're of the same faith, we might have been raised with very different values still. And so there's a number of questions there that I think exists for people to really wrestle with and think more about this subject. What do you think Lee? what's what's been your experience dating as a person of faith?


06:07 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, that's been interesting, specifically, as a queer person, and as a person of faith, but also, as an ordained person, it has been, that has been very interesting to navigate specifically within the queer community where the church definitely does not have the best reputation, and has done a lot of harm to the queer community. And so I'm at my partner on an app. But I do think that it is not the best conversation starter when you you know, you always ask like, Well, what do you do, and then when you say, like, I work for the church, and the queer community, that is, that's hard to get past. And so that's been very interesting. For me, in that sense, that to navigate kind of the trauma within a community, that you're a part of an institution that instigated this trauma. Yeah, that's very interesting. And that was not an advantage, I would say is being someone who was looking to be ordained and now is ordained. But it's also really interesting, since me and my partner have been together for a long time that I've, I've noticed an interaction of congregations, that it's just only open, more open, congregations that, for me, I was looked at differently when I was single than when I was with someone and that experience throughout the church. I think that definitely is something that a lot of people experience, no matter how you identify, it's very hard for many faith spaces, they don't know what to do with single people. And I do think that that is a reality a lot. And I experienced that it's very weird how some churches want to set you up, or they try to get you married, that's a lot of the language like we don't get married, and all that kind of stuff. And I do think that women have a very different experience with that than men, and especially those who don't identify as male, and people who may be non binary or trans folks, that's a whole nother experience layered on top of that. So I think that experience is very different. But I do think people, in many current congregations don't know what to do with single people. And so if you're with someone, they feel a little more at ease. And I think it has to do a lot with that kind of like, well, ministers and church leaders can't be like promiscuous, and I'm putting that in quotes. You can't say that, or they feel comfortable for a minister or somebody in leadership going out on a date and living into that part of their their embodiment. So I think this question is very good to think about for a lot of churches, like if you're listening this and you are a part of a church, or you're part of the leadership of the church, what stance or how can you be better at at kind of not being so involved in your minister or people in your churches, personal lives? I think that's a big question that we don't normally talk about, and how the church is not so negative towards single folk, because it because dating and being a person of faith with all that comes along with that, and we can talk about purity culture, when you talk about all those things. It comes with that. And, and I think in many ways, you kind of internalize it, or you just experience it in general. In these conversations, yeah. It's just really hard to to do that to date. Yeah.


09:51 – Simon Doong

Yeah. I think there's also this question about, let, let's say, you're dating someone, you're getting to know them and I think one of the more intimidating aspects of getting to know someone is getting to know someone's family or introducing someone to your family. And not saying that it's always this way, but it can, it may be a little intimidating to say, Oh, hey, I want you to, I want you to come to church with me. I want to introduce you to this community that matters to me. Because they have their own ideas, and they might have their own ideas understandings about what church community or faith community means. And also, because again, you're gonna bring that person, introduce them to folks that you know, in your faith community, and, you know, you don't know what's going to happen there, just like it is whenever you take someone to a new space. And so just thinking also about like, you were saying, Lee, what does it mean, when someone if someone did want to bring someone into this community? Do you want them to feel like, Oh, I have to do this so that other people will get off my back and see like, Oh, yes, I am dating? Or is it Oh, actually, I don't want to bring them to this community, specifically, because I don't want to deal with the hassle of, you know, typical, Oh, so you're dating, or you're dating this person, okay. And I know, that doesn't exist in every church circle or faith community by any means. But faith community circles can also be very social. And they can have some of those aspects as well. So thinking, again, about what it means to try to bring someone into your community is, you know, it's a, it's a tough thing to do, especially as you're just trying just also figure yourself out.


11:34 – Lee Catoe

Which is hard enough. Yeah, harder now. And in many churches, and this is changing a lot, a little bit, but in a lot of church experiences, you know, you have like the spouse of the minister, and the expectations behind that, and the involvement of that, and that is changing, like what that looks like, how involved that person may be or may not be. And I think that's also something that is also in the culture of this, it's that like, whoever that person, whoever is in leadership, that person can often be made to feel like they also have an obligation to a church community, or they also have an obligation to fill some kind of role. And I don't think that's fair. And I wouldn't want someone to expect my partner have that either, especially since many partners have experienced awful things from the church, like no one should expect someone to who has experienced trauma from a church to be, you know, involved just because they're associated with a minister or a church leader. So I do you think that those are good conversations to have within a church context to is, you know, not every person, not every spouse or partner is going to, you know, be involved in the church, because of many, many reasons. And that's changing, which I am appreciative of, because, yeah, many situations where that just shouldn't be the case. But, but I also just think dating is hard. We're, we're just out of a pandemic. And I've heard many, many stories, and to add a layer of faith. And if you're, if you're trying to be a person that lives into that, and I'm not saying like, I don't think people should ever be ashamed of it, or I think people should live into it. But also like, because of AIDS, and like your authenticity, and and really be fried. Nowadays, you have to say, like, yeah, I'm a Christian, but not in the way you may think. Because, again, there's a national, there's like a narrative of what a Christian is. And there's not a lot of good examples out there, who have gotten a lot of airtime for it. And so people have their own assumptions. People have their own lived experiences of what it means to be in the church. And so it just takes another conversation and another kind of level, I was always just like, yeah, I am a Christian. But here's my version. Always been very explicit.


14:16 – Simon Doong

So and that's not even to add in the question about dating as a person of faith and people wondering what that means about you in terms of boundaries, and it just within the relationship and also expectations within a relationship as well. That's a good that can be part of a conversation, especially depending on how you were raised and what you believe some people will have a lot of preconceived notions about what it means to be like, Oh, I'm a Christian. And they'll assume some things about the way you live your life and things you do or don't do that may or not, may or may not be true. And that's going to come down to communication between the the people involved in order to navigate that.


14:58 – Lee Catoe

Alright, this this conversation is taking, coming back to some very bad dating experiences. So I think we need to I think we need to move on.


15:07 – Simon Doong

All right, well, this next question that I'm not sure if this is gonna help move us probably topic of good or bad experiences. But uh, so our next question is, “What is some of the best and worst advice you've ever received from someone in church?”


15:23 – Lee Catoe

I'll start with the best. save the best for first always say, I do remember. And my grandmother had always told me this. Before I heard this from a church member, like, basically, like, she always said, like, don't, don't get too big for your britches. But what she was meaning is like, don't, don't forget, like where you're from, and don't forget your roots. And I remember, the first time I ever, like spoke in front of a church setting, and I had been to college and you know, I was working really hard to kind of muddle this accent. And so And believe it or not, it used to be a lot thicker than it is now. But I do, I do remember preaching in front of a space. And obviously, I wasn't doing a good job, or I was I was, people really saw that I was trying to cover up my accent. And I remember, it was it must have been a lady and probably like in her 80s or something. And I knew she was coming from a great place. And she had on like a rainbow pan, which then was very new for me to see older folk being very inclusive and accepting. And she she grew up in a small town in the south and South Carolina, like I did, and I remember her coming up to me, and she's like, I love what you say. And she's like, but never, but never cover up how you sound like never, basically, again, to be authentic, because that is like also about who you are. And so I remember that. And I've always now I'm always very intentional about I can pick up some language and also like inflections of people if I'm around somebody, I can kind of like pick it up some. And so I'm always very, like intentional about keeping the all my authenticity as much as I can. And so that was the best advice I ever got. What's the best advice you ever got? Maybe we'll do the worst at last for both of us.


17:46 - Simon

First of all, Lee, I just want to say I love your accent. And I'm sure that a lot of our listeners also really appreciate hearing your voice. And however, tell us apart. That's Yeah, you can tell us apart and they appreciate your accent however much or little you think there is, I think I'm sure that they appreciate hearing your voice every week. I know I do. So the best advice that I've ever heard or been given. This isn't specifically from a church context, but it is related to faith. When I was a young adult volunteer through the Presbyterian Church in South Korea, my site coordinator who is a pastor, and also a mission co worker for the denomination, gave us this overview about the US is well first of all, first about the history of the Korean Peninsula more generally, and then specifically the role of the US in the Korean War and in, frankly, in maintaining the division between North and South. And it kind of blew everyone's minds because we weren't really taught this in school. We didn't know how prominent a role the United States plays. We learn we're learning things that we just, we had we had to sit with and really reflect on. And I remember that he said, something that has stuck with me ever since then, which is that you must unlearn what you have learned. And the reason I really liked that was because it was within a context of faith because it was a faith based program we were serving with the Presbyterian Church. But what that phrase really applies to is everything. It applies to unlearning what we have learned about the way we think about the world, what we think about the Bible and God and how God functions, how God acts in our lives. It affects our understanding about what we think about historical events, or what we think about people and individual experiences. And so I just really appreciated that particular phrase in that particular bit of advice to unlearn what you have learned, because it also implies that you may not always have the answer. And what you think now could be incorrect, there could be more to the story, there could be more, there could just be more. And what you've learned is not you know, it's  not sacred, per se. So I really appreciated that. Which speaking to authenticity, like you were saying, we I think in order to unlearn what we've learned, you kind of have to do that, to remind yourself that you need to be authentic, because otherwise, if you only act, according to what you've learned, you might just try to sound like everyone else. So that was some of the best, best advice, I think I've heard. What's your what's the worst advice you've ever received?


20:48 – Lee Catoe

I had trouble with this, because there's been so many to point out. And many of them have been, have been has been advice that have, we've been talking about authenticity has has been to go against your authentic self. I mean, you know, I've had those, I've had those people in my life that have said, like, you don't need to be who you are, you need to try to figure out how to get past that all this kind of stuff. So besides that, I do remember, I do remember my the first time I'd moved to Nashville, and I had overheard a conversation within a church that that in many times like though the word that is proclaimed from the pulpit, that that a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church, that's like one of the spaces that a teaching elder can like have a little bit autonomy over like to say what they believe that the word of the spirit is, and all this kind of stuff. But in this conversation, I just remember be just getting the idea that you just can't challenge that word that comes out of that pulpit. And so I asked about that, and basically got like, like, that is the word from God. And like all this other kind of stuff. And that's probably like, one of the, one of the worst pieces of advice that I've gotten, because I did go years without kind of with hearing stuff from the pulpit and not kind of directly countering some things that I'm just like, hold on, or asking questions, more questions about it. And I think that happens many times in the church where a minister may say something, and it's like, oh, that's it? or, or, I don't really agree with that, and how can I kind of have a conversation, and maybe challenge that. And we've seen that some in the church now specifically with ministers who are for me preaching the word and saying that we should be on the side of, of the oppressed, and like Black Lives Matter, and all these kinds of things. And so some people will approach that and just say, that is not, you know, our job to, to talk about as ministers. And I don't think that's very true. But what I'm saying is kind of like the opposite of that, like, if someone in the end, our pulpit is saying something that is denying somebody's humanity, or is just trying to whitewash something to kind of approach that and ask more questions about it. But that's okay. Because we were always taught, and I was given the advice that the minister knows best, and that's that. But in the reformed tradition, that's never been the case. Really. I mean, we ask questions upon questions and try to get down to, to have a discussion about it. But But I think that's probably the worst besides the stuff that were what people were telling me about, like, being a queer person, and that I needed to, to not be, which is very ridiculous. So what about you, Simon?


24:03 – Simon Doong

You know, actually, mine lines up pretty well, with what with what you said, again, this wasn't I don't remember this being from a Presbyterian context. But it was from a it wasn't a faith context, faith, educational faith context. And a non non denominational affiliated But still, I just remember, we had a discussion and and someone said, you know, this, and this, and this is sin. And then that was just it. It was like that was it plain and simple. There was no discussion, and everyone's sitting there nodding their heads, and I'm looking around like, I don't think it can be this simple. And that's not because I'm like, want to be able to like get away with things or think people should get away with things. I just feel like there's more story. There's more to this than just this. There's got to be More more nuance to that, because I don't know, I feel like the God that I believe in is complex and understands nuance. And y'all aren't, aren't acknowledging any of that. You're making it very, very simple. And so I just remember sitting with that, and, and, and really you kind of wrestling with it. And it's really interesting how that sits, in contrast to what I said was the best advice I've ever received, which is you must unlearn what you have learned. Because in that particular instance, I feel like that was just someone learning something, and never questioning it. And that's what made me uncomfortable. I was like, I don't even know if it's, I didn't even know if I felt comfortable having a conversation about it. Because I could tell that there was no conversation to be had. So that's what uh, that was what came to mind for me, which is, yeah, pretty similar to what you were talking about.


25:56 – Lee Catoe

Yeah. So everyone who was giving advice, really think about it. Actually, I don't know if advice is the best hope. I think I think it works sometimes. But oftentimes, people just need a space to ask questions and figure it out. But I will always be grateful to that lady with that rainbow pan, who just felt like she needed to say that. And sometimes when that happens, it's not always probably the best thing you want to hear. But that time it was good. Watch out for the advice.


26:30 – Simon Doong

And we hope that when everyone writes in their questions for this podcast that they recognize what we are giving our responses, not necessarily advice, we like to think we there might be some guidance, especially when we bring in experts or people who have really relevant experience with a specific topic. But we're giving thoughtful responses for people to think about. We're not giving advice, per se. But we do appreciate everyone who writes in and we hope that everyone continues to ask questions that we can all discuss and learn from each other.


27:20 – Simon Doong

So joining us today is a very, very, very special guests. Today we have the Reverend Dr. Gregory Simpson, pastor at Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church, who is also Chair of the environmental and climate change subcommittee for the committee on mission responsibility through investment for the Presbyterian Church, USA. Gregory, thanks so much for being with us today. 


27: 45 - Gregory Simpson

Thank you for having me. peacemaking zoom people.


27:54 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, it's it's really good to meet you and for you to be a part of our podcasts. And we have a very long question for you. But yeah, it's very in depth. So our question, our question asks “How can we, as a society, simultaneously work to address issues of global climate change that do not exacerbate or perpetuate other issues and inequality such as poverty, and access to resources? How can this be done away that builds community, instead of simply looking for a, quote, quick and easy solution that disregards potential consequences?” So, Reverend Dr. Simpson, take it away.


28:40 – Gregory Simpson

Yeah. So I think that's a totally unfair question to begin with. I think it's unfair. But let me give it a crack. So I think when we think about global climate change, we have to think about it at least on three levels, we have to think about it from the perspective of kind of from an earth centric perspective, then we have to think about it from a human centric perspective. And then I wanted to say that we think about it as people of faith from a theological or spiritual perspective. So one of the bigger challenges in my work on on Mr. Ti is balancing the human perspective with what is needed for our church or denomination from the perspective of our polity and our theology, that's always a tension that we are wrestling with. And so what that speaks to is how then do we really address inequalities when we're dealing with these other tensions simultaneously, if I get directly into let's, let's talk a little bit about kind of more from a global human perspective, one of the problems that we have that we all know of Relation to inequities is the economic system that we exist in the economic system has been created in an inequitable way from the perspective of who are the owners of capital, and who aren't. So that in and of itself gives a layer of inequality that isn't easily addressed, and certainly isn't easily resolved. The other issue that's buried within the capitalist structure itself is the mechanisms by which capitalism actually flows and how it works. So what do I mean by that? I mean, the financial systems, I mean, insurance, I mean, the means of production in its broadest sense. But I want to focus in on two things I want to focus in on the challenges that we're faced in terms of the finance part, and the challenges that we face in terms of protection of risk risk part. So there's there these two things that work in tandem with each other, that facilitate global climate change, but are typically not spoken about that contribute directly to the inequities that we're talking about here. As far as finances are concerned from mrts perspective, it means shareholder advocacy. And what that means is that the ability for the church on a whole at least pcusa, to speak to owners of capital owners of productive capacities, owners of those technologies that are involved in fossil fuel extraction and distribution, speak to them about how it is they handle climate related challenges. So what do I mean by that? So as a committee, we are very cute into environment, social, and governance, the mechanism or the strategies that companies use to handle their environmental policies, their social policies, and our governance structures. And those three layers, embed the types of inequities that we want addressed as a church, I speak of it in that way, and then dovetail into the issue of finance and risk, because finance facilitates whether or not somebody is going to be able to properly address the environment, properly address the social ills, and properly address the governance structures that are equitable. For for everybody. What we've come upon, and what we've found more than anything else, is, as shareholder advocates, one of the barriers to entry is what are those companies that are actually traded on the stock market? Who we can actually speak to the banking industry, there are people that we can access in the insurance industry, there's a problem, it's very difficult to address them because they're not, generally speaking, publicly traded. And not only are they not publicly traded, but they are also invested in the perpetuation in some cases of fossil fuel extractive projects. They're the ones who underwrite or insure these projects. And you might ask, Well, what does that have to do with inequity? Well, it has a lot to do with, in order to stop a pipeline going through an area, or in order to put the other way in order for a pipeline to good area, it needs to have both the finance and it has to have the insurance, for example, in the byhalia pipeline in Memphis, Tennessee that was recently stopped. One of the challenges that they had was how do you tell a company that already has a fossil fuel infrastructure, Valero petrochemicals, I think it's called to stop doing what they're doing? Well, there's advocacy on several levels, I mean, you're going to put a pipeline over an aquifer, that if a quart of oil gets contaminated in in, in that aquifer, you're going to literally contaminate almost some, let's say, 100,000 people's access to water, some would say much more than that, but conservatively 100,000 people's adequate access to clean water, that's an injustice itself, that leads to issues of continuous and systemic poverty and, and compromises the community that is going to be most of regions will be affected. So I look at these problems of climate change from the perspective of who is insuring it and who is financing the financing part, as I said, is One aspect that is more easily dealt with because many of those organizations and companies are publicly traded Bank of America or, you know, Citibank or any one of these large, large banks, but the insurance companies are far more difficult. The only one that we have on our portfolio is AIG. But AIG in publicly traded, we can speak to those issues. We can talk to Tia Kraft, for example, that's not publicly traded. So when we talk about inequities, the inequities start with who is managing the risk, and who isn't able to get access to managing risk. People who are in these communities that are exposed to contaminants of all sorts, fossil fuel based, let's say, let's start there, they don't have the opportunity to manage the risk. And so as an advocate, we have to speak to those people who are managing the risk and say, Well, this is not fair. And so one of the things that we've been embarking on is looking at and speaking to insurance companies, we're not necessarily publicly traded. But that's a whole nother strategy that we have to build on.


36:25 – Gregory Simpson

So from just addressing the global climate change from where I said, one of the challenges on our human human level, is understanding the system's the system of capitalism, and what makes it work that's really important to have a good grasp of what makes it work. And absolutely on equivocally, there is no legitimate business in the world that I know of, that does not have insurance and functions through insurance. Absolutely not. If there, I'm not talking about illegitimate businesses, I'm talking about legitimate businesses, legitimate businesses need must have insurance from the smallest mom and pop to the largest multibillion dollar corporation, they have some level of insurance. So we need to start looking at how the insurance industry is enabling issues of global climate change. And as a result of that, manage that those inequities that inequity in terms of ways to get out of poverty alleviation. And that's kind of really, really big picture. So that's kind of one piece that I want to share. The other piece is theologically one of the bigger challenges that we have as as clergy is we are taught how to study how to read how to interpret how to teach scripture. So from a purely Christian perspective, we are taught how to the word that they would use is exegete, the text to extract information out of the text and share it to others from the pulpit. Well, our scriptures were never meant to include or how they are no, and how they are taught, are never meant to include human Earth relationships. It's really focused on human relationships. And in that relationship, it's dominated by male male relationships. So God as male, and Jesus as male, and all the disciples that as male, and that's the interaction that we are exposed to, in our study of Scripture. Well, this in and of itself, is problematic. And this is one of the reasons why many individuals who are involved in liberation theologies kind of tried to re address or redress the way in which different groups interpret the Scripture. So LGBTQ liberation theologies, black liberation, theologies, Asian, Native American liberation theology is all from a Christian perspective. How do we look at the text from a lived experience from a particular or specific population? That's the theological challenge that I believe that from the perspective of clergy that we are faced with how to make this text more relevant not only to issues of poverty, because we can speak to that, but also make it relevant to issues. And so so that's another dynamic that I think is embedded in the challenge that you presented. How can this be done in a way that builds community? It's stead of simply looking for a quick and easy solution that disregards potential consequences? Well, first and foremost, the consequences that we're talking about are global in nature. Obviously, if you remove human beings off the earth, I suspect the Earth would be fine the earth, we wouldn't have a problem, creatures would do what they do, the species would flourish, and there probably would be something other than human beings. So we need to understand that the earth does not need us, we need the earth. So from perspective of building community, that type of awareness, this understanding that we need the earth, just as we need each other, falls into our overall narrative that reinforces really, really building community. I think if we look at purely technological solutions, without in communities where technology is not the foundation, and low to moderate income communities, where these communities are users of technology, not owners of technology, there needs to be some way of redress where owners of technology and user of technology, both have a stake. And I think if we start thinking about the technologies that we deploy, in that kind of way, then we have a way of really thinking about community building, redressing the inequalities, of wealth distribution, and also providing opportunities for pathways out of poverty. With that in mind, and a clear understanding of the environment environment or the earth, as a brother or a sister, or a sibling, then we have a way of looking at and talking about equity between our lived environment and our human experiences. I think those those are the ways that I would kind of enter this very, very difficult question questions. But I think that's where I would start.


42:22 – Simon Doong

That was great, Gregory, and, you know, you you hit the nail on the head about something I was even thinking about, because as as I've gotten older, I've been thinking about, oh, how do we take care of the earth? How do we try to stop or mitigate climate change? and answer that always keeps coming up is “Oh, everyone should drive a Prius, and everyone should use solar panels.” Right? But as you said, Those technological options are not available to everyone. They're not accessible to everyone, partly because of poverty, partly because of the capitalistic structure. And so what you've proposed is that there needs to be a way for both users and creators of this technology to have a stake in how not only about how it's made, but how it is distributed. so that it can be equitable. Right? I think that's I think that's really important. Because otherwise, it's only going to be the haves doing better, but also, and but then the have nots are still going to have they're going to have the same the same issues. Right. Oh, I appreciate you really digging into that complexity.


43:28 – Gregory Simpson

Yeah, I mean, people are, you would argue that, you know, if you really want to be an owner of technology, just jump on the stock market and go buy a company go by Google are at 1700, and how much how much dollars per share, or by Tesla 700. And whatever it is, for sure. I mean, somebody who doesn't have the wherewithal to properly take care of their health or to feed themselves, this is not an option. So we have to find other options. One solution that's out there is the idea of like community solar projects, where the community buys in, but even then, when the community buys, and they still are not the owners of technology, they still are users of technology. And so kind of understanding that capitalism does this means also understanding what capitalism needs to change, change into, it can't be the same model, if we really want to reap a reward are a wholesomeness for all creation. It's not going to work if it's purely extractive all the time. And so we have to really think about that and, and I think what stretches me a lot is whether or not we can think about these products. problems through the lens of theology through the lens of our scriptures. As a pastor, how do I think about creation? How do I think about climate change? How do I think about poverty alleviation, all mixed up in one through the sacred texts that I hold there. I mean, that really is a big challenge. Some people argue that, you know, it's not a challenge at all, we understand that there are certain texts, you can start a Genesis, and then look at the creation story. And you can go from there. And you can look at Revelation, and there's stories in there that speak to, you know, you have a new earth, and you can kind of use pieces of Scripture to kind of weave a story about the way we understand our, but it's not innate to the Christian tradition, it's an eight to indigenous tradition, spiritualities, where the earth is a sacred being part of their entire ethos, their ethnicity, their culture. But that's not the same way that we experienced Christianity. And so therefore, we have to find ways to make that bridge for more and more people supported with an understanding a deeper understanding of what capitalism capitalism is, and how we can use capitalist structures or change capitalist structures to meet the kind of future objectives we have for alleviation of climate change and global warming and things of that nature. Yeah,


46:35 - Lee Catoe

I also really appreciate the the what you said about that the the earth doesn't need us, but we need the earth. And I mean, that is that is the truth laid out for all of us that Yeah, we give ourselves way too much credit.


46:57 – Gregory Simpson

Yeah, I think that's true. I mean, our report tradition speaks to that. I mean, our, our reformed tradition, it speaks to the idea that in humility, we approach God, we in total humbleness and submission, we venerate God, that puts a perspective on really who's on top and who's not. But that same kind of theological understanding needs to permeate the way we interact, and relate to creation. Now, question could be asked, How does God see human beings in relation to the rabbits and the birds and the, you know, the bacteria, the microorganisms and the trees and whatnot? Does God make a distinction and life forms in that way? I don't know. But I know, one can't do without the other. And as we look around the beauty of God's Earth, we must recognize that all of it is in veneration to God. There is something that you look outside and you see the beauty of an environment. And you say, Oh, my God, this must be God. So how do we hold all of this intention in the messiness that exists in our human narrative? You know, humanities message difficulties. Living is not easy, even though we have amenities that make it easy, but living isn't easy. Living requires a lot. And so that understanding of the sacredness of all of creation, somehow needs to fall into this narrative. When we're both in church and in the boardroom, when we are developing technologies. And when we are users of technologies when we're investing in technologies, or when we are not investing in technology as it becomes aware of existing that is all inclusive, and all embracing and all loving and all caring.


49:15 – Simon Doong

That was great. We're gonna move to our resource roundup segment and Gregory is gonna be staying with us to give us a little bit more information about resources related to climate change, climate, justice and faith that folks might not know about. Gregory, take it away.


49:38 – Gregory Simpson

So there's one, there are two resources that come to mind that I think people should pay attention to. One is it's called the Climate Reality project. And the Climate Reality project was thinking in the 1980s was founded by Vice President Al Gore, but what that organization does or has morphed into over the years, is an organization that really has held both theological issues, scientific issues. And now, kind of environmental justice issues, which when I say environmental justice, I mean, how issues of place based in justices are addressed. And so we now have, this is one of many organizations, but one that I would speak to as being really important in this fight against climate, climate change. One of the things that they do more than anything else is they train individuals, any individuals from all over the globe, on how to talk about climate change from your lived experience, it also provides the opportunity for you to see what the technological solutions are on the horizon. And also to think about the legal structures, the regulatory frameworks that govern how we address issues of climate and climate change. And this is, I think, I've come to appreciate more and more how climate reality the climate doc clang Climate Reality project, functions in relation to really building a broad based coalition of people understand not only from the science, and from the, the, the the scientific basis to justify climate change, but also from the perspective of legislative reengineering. So I would recommend strongly that the other one that I would encourage people to, to kind of look at is an organization called we act. And you might know of where we act is a environmental justice advocacy organization. Think has its roots in New York, but what they have morphed into is a national advocacy platform for those who are really seeking to find more ways of entering this discussion, both both legislatively, and from the perspective of just understanding how it is that we live into a new future that is more equitable. And the last thing I want to just leave with you is over the last, I guess, since since the new administration, took off office, they have formed the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the White House, White House environmental justice Advisory Council, I would just encourage people to go to that website and look at some of the issues that on a national level this administration is tackling. I think with those three resources in mind, I think that would be really a good starting point, these three resources will be good starting points for for individuals to start diving into an understanding a little bit more deeply about the issues that connect issues of climate change to our lived experience, to poverty alleviation to environmental injustices, to eco justice, and certainly to climate, climate justice and global warming.


53:52 – Lee Catoe

Reverend Dr. Simpson, we are so glad that you were with us. And we're so glad that we got to have a conversation with you and to, for you to share some of the resources that that people can use. And those resources will be in our show notes. And we'll have the links and all those kinds of things to make it easy for people to get there. So check out the show notes. And again, thank you for being here. And we really appreciate it and glad we got to talk to you.


54:22 – Gregory Simpson

Thanks. Thanks for having me on. You know, I wish you guys the very, very best of successes, you can kind of keep this going. I think you really have something good going here and I really encourage you to stay with it and keep going.


54:40 - Lee Catoe

Thank you that that means a lot. We'll stick with it.


54:50 – Simon Doong & Lee Catoe

This has been the matter of faith podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion. You can do so Faith [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you. See you next time. See you next time, y'all.


55:24 – Simon Doong

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