Church activities and environmental sustainability

Last night, I went to a musical fireside. There were several musical numbers and a few spoken testimonies. It was pretty good. Two young women performed a duet of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. They did a great job.

Afterwards, refreshments were available in the gym. While they were pretty tasty, it did produce a lot of waste. All the dishes were polystyrene foam, and the styrofoam cups contained only water.

It got me thinking. I was contemplating several of the church activities I attended in the last few months and realized it was the same at all of them: polystyrene foam dishes.

So I have been wondering what sort of options are available to try making church activities more environmentally sustainable.

1. Use dishes from the kitchen

Pros: No non-food waste
Cons: Requires more cleanup. Uses more water and natural gas (hot water) than disposable dishes

2. Use paper dishes

Pros: Less cleanup. Decomposes faster than polystyrene.
Cons: Still contributes to landfill use.

3. User paper napkins for dessert-only refreshments

Pros: Less cleanup. Decomposes faster than polystyrene and paper dishes. Less distribution and storage costs.
Cons: Still contributes to landfill use.

Any other thoughts?

Commanded by the Prophet

So if the Prophet sends you a letter signed by all of the First Presidency, would you feel obliged to obey the instructions included therein?

Does the option of ignoring the instruction exist (assuming you’re a faithful member)?

Is it any different if the letter is read over the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting?

If you had personal opinions which run against what the Prophet instructed, how would you deal with the situation?

Dion’s Liberal Tax Plan

So, Stephan Dion has promised a huge tax plan if he gets elected as prime minister in the next federal election. The idea is to encourage less energy use, but still make it affordable for citizens to pay for it.

Here’s what he is proposing:

  • $10 tax/tonne of gas emissions in first year
  • $40/tonne by 4th year
  • Lowest tax bracket from 15% to 13.5%
  • Middle tax bracket from 22% to 21% (first in years)
  • Highest tax bracket from 26% to 25%
  • General corporate income-tax rate cut by one percentage point by 4th year
  • Small businesses receive an additional cut of one percentage point
  • Tax breaks for green technologies and research and development
  • Child tax benefit of $350/child, on top of the existing child benefit
  • $150 annual credit to rural residents
  • $200 annual tax breaks for northern residents
  • $1 billion contingency fund to help charities and others with unexpected cost increases

Who pays:

  • 8.2% increase in home heating-oil up costs in 4th year
  • 4.9% increase in diesel costs
  • 8.4% increase in propane costs
  • 95?Ǭ¢ price increase for gas barbecue propane tank
  • $203 increase in average energy bill of a home heated by oil
  • $266 increase in average energy bill of a home heated by natural gas
  • $1,380 tax break to cover energy costs for a family of four earning $80,000


The Other Side of the Coin

Disenfranchised members of the church, ex-members, non members who have family in the church often relate feelings of anger or rejection?Ǭ† from family members who can’t seem to accept their choice. Often what happens is those family who reacted so strongly, come around, and attempt to repair relationships, and often after much time ( years, commonly) things are back to a kind of truce, as love can overcome so much.

What often isn’t addressed is when family members who leave the church reject those family and friends who stay; cutting off contact and having such a hatred for the church that it transfers to family members who are unwilling to deny their testimonies, and who have to endure the ridicule and condemnation of family who they love who can’t seem to separate their parent, sibling or other extended family from the church. It is all lumped into one big pool of hatred and anger.

There is nothing you can do to fix it except to leave the church and denounce your testimony. That would bring back your loved one. But you can’t do that, because to do so would be to deny who you are, and so you would lose yourself.

I know this doesn’t always happen, but it does sometimes and it is possibly the most painful experience someone can have. It really hurts and you can’t do a thing about it except the most offensive thing to the family member, and that is pray.

Do visions wear you out?

I found something interesting the other day.

We read in 1 Ne 1:6 that Lehi had seen a pillar of fire on a rock. Via the pillar, he saw and heard many things. The experience, however, appeared to be physically draining because in the following verse, as soon as he got home, he went to bed.

In JS-H 1:20, we read that after Jesus and God visited Joseph Smith, Joseph lost all his strength. Even after he was able to make it home, he still needed to lean on the fireplace for support.

Granted, these are just two of the many prophets mentioned in the scriptures, but it does seem interesting that both had visions and both ended up being physically drained. I wonder if this is a common occurrence among prophets when they have their first vision.

The Least of These

For some reason, the scripture Matt. 25:40 has kept coming to my mind lately.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

I’m not sure why though, but as I have been thinking of it, a question came to mind.

Often this scripture is used to illustrate the importance of service. This is particularly true when one considers the preceding verses discuss feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and ministering to the imprisoned.

What I wonder though is whether this scripture can go a little further than a surface reading.

Obviously, the Lord is speaking of the downtrodden: the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned. I find it interesting he includes the imprisoned in this list of downtrodden.

The previous four groups of people seem to have tangible needs, or rather that which addresses their needs: food, water, clothes, and medicine.

I don’t know that the needs of the imprisoned are as tangible. Maybe that’s why we hear fewer stories of Christians taking care of the imprisoned than we do stories of food banks, clothing drives, or vaccination efforts.

That’s not really my point though. What this incongruousness makes wonder is whether the Lord is speaking of just those with tangible, physical needs. Is he also speaking of those with emotional or even social needs? Could “the least of these” also refer to minorities in our societies? Could Matt. 25:40 also be a call to stand up for those unrepresented in society?