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COP 26 and Scriptural Reasoning

COP 26 and Scriptural Reasoning

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Scriptural Reasoning for COP26 – an insight from Br Joseph Emmanuel SSF

Although many people – including some of our own Sisters and Brothers – have headed off to Glasgow to register their commitment to Environmental Justice some of us have been able to do ‘our bit’ by praying for COP26 (and for the future of the world), by partaking in organised events (online and ‘in person’) and by learning a bit more about the issues we face as a planet. It seems to me that there is an ‘unprecedented’ interest in our world, in our environment and in the basic insight – taught by many Spiritual teachers and among them St Francis – that we are intimately connected with each other. Along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge we may say ““he prayeth best, who loveth best, All things both great and small; for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all….”

I took part in an online scriptural reasoning session organised by New College (the Faculty of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh) along with Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of no faith. We studied passages from the Hebrew Scriptures (Deuteronomy 20.19&20), from the Christian Scriptures (Matthew 6.25-33) and from the second Surah of the Qu’ran al Baqarah aya 164. If one looks at the passage from the Hebrew Scriptures one might, at first, be puzzled (for it refers to the way in which one should besiege a City) but Rabbi Mark Solomon (who introduced the text) referred us to commentaries from Maimonides and from the Sefer Ha-Chinnukh (a 13th Century Spanish text). In the Sefer Ha-Chinnukh we receive a stark warning and I finish with it:

“….The purpose of this mitzvah is to teach us to love that which is good and beneficial and to cling to it, so that good becomes a part of us and we will avoid all that is evil and destructive. This is the way of the righteous and those who improve society, who love peace and rejoice in the good…: that nothing, not even a grain of mustard, should be lost to the world… Not so are the wicked, who are like demons, who rejoice in destruction of the world, and they are destroying themselves…” (Sefer Ha-Chinnukh.529)