Sunday, 28 September 2008

Not Hasty to Assume - But Fast - Take Time to See for Real

As I contemplate the call to Fast for the Planet I pen this


I was nurtured and continued in the Christian tradition of making Lent and Advent periods of voluntary abstention from habits and patterns that I took for granted. These not unhappy extended periods of discipline fed the weekly practices associated with preparing for worship and for the application of the same in daily disciplines of sustaining and practising the wholistic faith in which I had been gently nurtured.

These great seasons led me to value the stimulus of a weekly discipline of standing aside from the pace of life, that seemed always to be building up, and to value regular reflection on the wisdom of ancient traditions that still served well over time and translated into pertinent commitments in my own times. I was slowly learning the value of contemplation in a world of action and making the practice my own.

It was in such times that I opened my narrow mind to wider ranges of reality, read and listened to writings that stretched my conditioned ways to include the perspective of others living in different cultures and countries than my own.

It was in such times that I renewed and expanded my understanding so neatly expressed in that delightful quip, 'I have a point of view, but God has a view of points'.

It was in such times that I read 'Only One Earth, the Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet' and discovered the cosmic perspective embedded in the 'Gaia Atlas of Planet Management - for Today's Caretakers of Tomorrow's World'. On every one of its 258 pages of that atlas an aspect of life on earth is depicted with pictures or symbols of a person, of corporate structure, and of the world itself, leading me to my now indelible understanding that real life is endless gift events and consists in an unceasing oscillation between the intimate, the corporate and the global perspectives on its integrity. It taught me also that all life on earth shares the common ground of 'earth identity'

Over time the practice of fasting, contemplation, standing outside my ordinary patterns, confirmed and increased my ecumenical and ecological sensibilities and readied me to adopt such guiding mantras as 'inclusive justice', as 'an economy that works for everyone and protects the earth', and as 'holistic theology and earth system science'.

Fasting in its various manifestations keeps me committed to developing the will and the way to check and change my behaviour so that I work from 'a psyche the size of God's awesome creation', to find again my own meaning in that context, lessening the tendency to dwell in 'a psyche the size only of my self' and my conditioned, encultured and vested narrow interests.

Out of standing aside in these ways from time to time with the discipline of regularity I make thrilling sense of the words of Thomas Berry - 'We will go into the future as a single sacred community or we shall perish in the desert.' .

Peter Challen

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Activists Invite People to 'Fast for the Planet'

Main Website:




To encourage deeper action towards caring for the environment, two organsiations based in London are taking a novel approach by asking people to fast. By drawing attention to the way that fasting from food has been used by key figures in human history to facilitate large-scale social change, the London Islamic Network for the Environment (LINE) and St Ethelburgas Centre for Reconciliation and Peace launched their Fast for the Planet website today, which sets out the details of their message. In addition they are organising a participatory event scheduled for Sunday October 19th 2008 in the City of London.

By encouraging people to voluntarily fast from something essential, albeit temporarily, the organisers consider this to be a form of direct action that will nurture our collective ability to let go of patterns that are not only not essential to our survival, but in fact are rapidly destroying the planet. Using this approach, the organisers believe that people can better strengthen their intention to move away from consumerism and other unhealthy patterns, and instead move towards life-styles and community relationships, that are nurturing to people as well as to the earth.

In the build-up to the day of fasting, their website invites people to take part in a choice of actions, including mending any damaged clothing they may have, purchasing only if they really need something, and letting go of using a credit card. The main event will end with the sharing of food and personal experiences, and people who are unable to attend are invited to fast at home or organise an event of their own.

Muzammal Hussain, initiator of Fast for the Planet, and Chair of LINE said:

"There is no doubt that we need a radical approach like this, because although intellectually most of us know what needs to be done, old patterns of living continue to dominate, and green-house gas emissions continue to rise. Now, here's a way to really get our bodies and hearts directly involved in a process that will help break us out of outdated destructive patterns and lead to a better world".

Helen Gilbert, co-organiser of Fast for the Planet, and events coordinator at St Ethelburgas said:

"We are pleased to be hosting this event at St Ethelburga's because it challenges us at a deep level to consider what reconciliation means in the context of humanity's troubled relationship with the earth. As a practice that has deep roots in many spiritual and faith traditions, fasting is a powerful and unifying resource we can draw on in challenging, both the personal and societal, status quo."