LIVING LIGHT
Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the Creation Keepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #6: The Creation Keepers’ Guide to Lent

February 18,2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
So Lent has arrived! It’s meant to be a time to (re)focus on what it means to be and live as Christians, to be just in the biblical sense, meaning to be in the right relationship with God, with ourselves and with our neighbours. The traditional Lenten practices are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbours). Among fellow Christians, though, I have seen many different paths walked in adopting these practices, in particular as far as fasting is concerned, ranging from food practices (absolute or partial fasting such as giving up meat, sweets, alcohol, and so on), to fasting from negative habits (giving up gossip, excuses, or, my personal favorite, giving up nagging) and to many more life-choice type things. Yes, fasting has arrived in the mainstream.
Is there a Creation Keepers’ Guide to Lent? The good news is that all three Lenten practices -- prayer, fasting, and almsgiving -- can point us to and allow us to partake in practices of stewardship for God’s creation. All three play a role across the four Lent Choices that we have reviewed here for you.
 
1. A Learning a Week: God’s Creation, Praying, and Reviewing Your Choices. This year’s Christ Church Vienna Lent Course: Caring for Creation offers fact-based information on topics such as the environment and climate change, combined with the opportunity to consider jointly with other members of the community what prompts us as Christians to pay attention to what is actually happening to our planet today. We will also discuss what, with God’s guidance and strength, we can do as individuals and as a community to care for creation. The five sessions are based on the York Course Caring for Creation and combined with other resources for knowledge, inspiration, and prayer. The in-person group will meet on Wednesday mornings at 10:15 am (from Ash Wednesday). The Zoom group will meet Thursday evenings at 7pm (starting on Thursday, 18 February).
Do you want to complement the Christ Church course with something more? The Diocese in Europe recommends For Such A Time as This. It is a set of 6 studies exploring environmental justice from Anglican perspectives around the world. Check out the PDF format here. Each study provides a reflection from a global partner, biblical extracts for reflection, questions for discussion, prayers, and a simple action or commitment.
2. An Action a Day: Plastic Fasting. Here is a fun idea - do one thing each day that helps you take a step towards reducing your use of plastic. This day-by-day guide can help. Originally developed by the Church of England's Environment team, as part of a 2018 “Plastic Free Lent Challenge,” it offers a practical tip each day of lent to reduce your use of plastic. These tips cover different areas of life such as “in the kitchen,” “in the bathroom,” “when traveling,” “in the home,” and so on. Thee is a great Facebook Group, “Plastic-less living” associated with the original lent challenge, worthwhile subscribing to even beyond lent.  I have printed out the day-by-day guide and put it on my fridge at home. We’ll see what we can do each day.
 
This is how the "Plastic Fasting" calendar of the Green Anglicans looks. Check it out online.
3. A Moment a Day: Walking in the Wilderness. Looking for more spiritual resources, both for your Lenten prayer practices, and to reflect on God’s mandate for us to take care of his creation? In researching for something that would both reflect our current situation and be inspiring for the environmentally-minded, I came across Beth Richardson’s Walking in the Wilderness. It’s a day-by-day guide through this year’s Lent, offering a poem or quote, a piece of scripture, and a “word to carry in your heart today.” Why do I recommend it? For full disclosure, originally I was attracted just by the booklet’s title, Wilderness. I quickly learned that wilderness has many spiritual meanings and does not necessarily describe what my somewhat jungle-book shaped mind had envisioned. Indeed, the author takes the concept of wilderness way beyond what nature has to offer. The reflections and prayers offer insights and sources of strength for anyone seeking to bring about change in one’s own life or that of others, which really is the journey ahead for anyone seeking to address the environmental challenges of today. And I imagine we can, in addition to reading the daily dedications contained in the book, enrich the experience by taking a proper “walk in the wilderness,” whether it’s in the Vienna Prater or anywhere else close to where we live. Other day-to-day resources that I checked and can recommend for Lent include the Anglican Church’s #LiveLent app (also you can sign up via email).

A view of the front page of Beth Richardson's day-by-day guide to this year's Lent, Walking in the Wilderness.
4. A Commitment for all 40 Days: Car Fasting and inviting others to Car-Fast. The idea of reducing or cutting out one’s use of one’s car (or others’ cars) has been around for sometime, for various reasons, perhaps starting with the 1970s oil-crisis driven car-free Sundays in many countries. Much later, in 2013, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of CapeTown, one of the 2015 founders of the Bishops for Climate Justice Initiative, invited his congregation to join him for a Carbon Fast for Lent that included reducing the amount of petrol used for cars. Here in Austria, car fasting or Auto Fasten has also been around for some time, organized by the ecumenical environment initiative of Austrian churches. Autofasten.at offers some practical resources (though regrettably only in German), including a CO2 calculator to work out the emissions associated with your car rides. There is also a cute Autofasten Kalendar to record one’s achievements. Of course, many Christ Church members may not even own a car. But hey, AutoFasten.at explains also to the non-car-owners what we can all do to promote Auto Fasten more broadly. This could include inviting others (who have a car) to join us in walking, cycling, or taking public transport, including for getting to church, fixing an Auto Fasten sign on our bicycle, actively supporting the bicycle lobby in Vienna, discussing at our workplace activities that would not involve cars, reducing the use of services that rely on the use of car (e.g., ordering online), and supporting local initiatives that aim to reduce the use of cars. Of course, this year, and in particular on colder days, we must be mindful that the COVID-19 risks may cause some of us to use a car instead of public transport to minimize infection risks, in particular where we cannot choose the time of day and degree of crowding on the buses or trains. It’s worthwhile checking out Wiener Linien’s information and guidelines on reducing infection risks on buses, trains, and trams.

A screenshot of Autofasten.at, where one can find (German) guidance and resources for promoting reductions in car use. 
Inspired to adopt an environmental theme for your lent practices this year? Whatever you end up doing within your relationship with God, with yourself, and with your neighbours, may it well lead you to doing justice to God’s creation! Let us know what you think and do!

A "word cloud" of all the words we used in the first five Blogs of this series.

Blog #5: Dominion means ... ... ... care?!

February 11, 2021
Rosie Evans
Is taking care of creation really a priority for Christians? As important as love, justice and peace? Something that we, faith-based people, need to pay attention to, engage with and take action on? And if so, to whom can we look for inspiration?

 

 Picture: A view of the greenanglicans.org site, quoting Genesis (1:31)

Last September, during Creationtide here at Christ Church Vienna, I attended Dr. Clare Amos’s Bible study “And God saw that it was good: The Bible and Creation,” and it left me both inspired and full of questions. Dr. Amos, Director of Lay Discipleship for the Anglican European Diocese, has written about and taught on the topic of creation. Before taking a deeper look into the New Testament perspective on the subject of creation, Dr. Amos looks at the description in Genesis of our dominion over creation: “let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth.” At that point, the wheels in my head started turning, and I began to wonder: What does it mean for us to have dominion over creation?
“God gave us Dominion. Dominion means stewardship, it means care,” says Revd Canon Sally Bingham, and she is not mincing words.  She is an Episcopal priest in California, president of the Interfaith Power and Light Campaign, whose goal is to “help people of faith recognise and fulfill their responsibility for the stewardship of creation.” Revd Bingham has a beautiful 4-minute video online explaining the spiritual dimensions that should guide Christians to invest time and energy in matters of environment: “Taking care of creation is a matter of faith. It is as important as love, justice, and peace,” she says in the video. And she reminds us that “we need to do a better job, God put you here to be a Caretaker!”
Inspired by both Dr Amos and Rev Canon Sally Bignham, I began to search for more people of faith who had spoken on the topic of creation and climate change, and I was reminded of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Tutu, who is also well known as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, speaks clearly about climate change and the impact that the ever more frequent heat waves, storms, droughts and floods have on the poor. "We fought apartheid.  Now Climate Change is our global enemy" he says. In the 2020 International Peace Lecture, Archbishop Tutu challenges us: "Words are not enough. We must work the work." His introduction, accompanied by images that brought tears to my eyes, confirms the need for action and explains the meaning of “climate justice”, a term that describes how different people are affected differently by climate change, in terms of geographies, incomes and generations. The more I looked, the more faith leaders I found caring and calling for action and change, both within the Christian churches and beyond.
But what about formal guidance? Institutionally, most faith groups have come to follow their leaders. There are multiple declarations out there, ranging from the famous Laudato Si’ Encyclia of 2015, through to the many individual and joint declarations by churches and faith groups in the context of Climate Change conventions and other contexts. In the Anglican Church, we have the Five Marks of Mission, the fifth tasking us to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustaina and renew the life of the earth”. This was added in 1990 to the other four marks. In fact, the Anglican Church has an entire program around environmental protection and climate change, as do many associated groups - we will explore them in one of our next blogs. 
So no shortage in guidance and challenges. But what about faith? From where can we draw inspiration and connect through prayer and communion? Prayer is a very important aspect of my faith, and something that I believe is important when it comes to issues such as climate change and climate injustice. I invite you to pray. To pray for those who campaign against these challenges, who change the ways we live. To pray that the Lord may guide and inspire them and us in working towards a positive change. Looking for further inspiration?  You can find it in the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi, with the Church of England Creation Care prayer, the Church of England prayer for World Environment Day, or also Prayer, poetry and other worship resources from the Interfaith Power and Light Campaign.
Want to learn more? Caring for Creation is the new Lent Course we are running at Christ Church in Vienna. There will be 2 groups, one in the church centre starting on Wednesday 17th February at 10.15am, and one on Zoom starting on Thursday 18th February at 7pm. There are five sessions in which we will learn more about topics such as the environment and climate change, and together consider what prompts us as Christians to pay attention to what is actually happening to our planet today. We will discuss how, with God’s guidance and strength, we can consider what to do as individuals and as a community, to care for creation. We will use the structure of the York Course Caring for Creation to search for facts on what it means to be living in a climate crisis, what it takes to open our eyes, and to discern pathways for action. And we will add other resources as we go along, for knowledge, inspiration and prayer. 
Join us! Let’s figure out together what God put us here for, giving us dominion!

Blog #4: Meatless in Vienna: A Guide for the Carnivore

February 4, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Yes, you read it right: This blog is about carnivores, meat lovers, those amongst us who just really relish a good steak, thoroughly enjoy their Broetchen with Austrian ham (“Beinschinken”) and Kren, and thrive on their Wiener Schnitzel. We will explore what options there are in Vienna for meat lovers to happily shift to somewhat less meaty pathways without feeling they’re missing out. Impossible? Well, I checked it out with real people, taking my adolescent boys and better half as test subjects, all three of them committed carnivores. Unexpectedly so, the pilot involved some fun moments and surprises. The first was my 18-year-old’s reaction: When confronted with the idea of checking out some meatless meat, he nonchalantly produced a video from his favorite youtube blogger, Mark Rober, who had put out a fun and informative video on the subject: “Feeding Bill Gates a Fake Burger.” The appeal of the video: Mark is a scientist, ex-NASA engineer, and fun to watch. Plus, he is really only looking at what are broadly considered the two best meat-replacements in the market right now: Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat. Compact and for the non-reader, the video offers, in 17 minutes, most of the pluses and minuses, myths and myth-busters, around the two market leaders in meat replacements.
So why do a personal experiment? As Creation Keepers here at Christ Church in Vienna, we are interested in making personal choices, and yes, that includes the choice to eat less meat. Our rationale is simple: Consuming meat at today’s per-capita levels puts a MAJOR burden on our planet. Irrespective of where cows, pigs, hens and other animals live, the combination of their collective burping (methane) and feeding simply results in enormous amounts of greenhouse gases being released, thus driving climate change. Even here in happy little Austria? Yes! Here in Austria, we are not only amongst the top 10 on the global list of meat consumers, at somewhere between 90 and 100kg/per person/year, but we also compete with Spain for first place in Europe. Most interestingly, if Austrians would follow the dietary recommendations of their own health authority and eat meat 2-3 times per week rather than, as they currently do, about 300 grams daily on average, Austria could cut down greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture by nearly 50 percent. This is no small feat, given that agriculture drives nearly 20 percent of total emissions

Why eat less meat? Meat production generates many many times more greenhouse gases than pretty much any other food product. Source: WRI.
Enough about the data. What about the meat? We checked out burgers and tested three formats: ready-made, order-in, and minced meat (Faschiertes). Ready-made burger patties of the non-meat variation can be found in all known Viennese supermarket chains. We intentionally ignored the many sorts of veggie products and really focused on what was supposed to look, feel and taste like a burger: Garden Gourmet’s Vegan Burger (soy/wheat based), Garden Gourmet’s Sensational Burger (soy based), and the Vegini Burger (pea protein based). Billa, Spar, and Merkur carry them, sometimes in the cheese/non-meat aisle. Personally, I am a Vegini fan (I love their pulled chunks and the fact that they are made from pea protein), but the two Garden Gourmet products won our family testing. Barely recognizable as non-meat, the smokey taste convinced everyone, and yes, we will now add them to our family menu a few times a month. Note: InterSpar carries BeyondMeat burgers (I hear in the deep freeze section), but they are incredibly popular and were sold out twice when I tried to get them.
Burgers-to-order of the non-meat variation are available in many burger joints, but I had to be careful: Many would have not suited my meat-loving boys, being made of chickpeas, tofu, black beans and so on, designed more for veggie lovers. So we ordered an impossible burger product, the Rebel Whopper from Burger King, and a BeyondMeat burger, the Vegan Burger at Aufglegt in Landstrasser Hauptstrasse 14-16 in the third district. Both burgers won broad approval from the meat lovers in my house. The Vegan Whopper is barely distinguishable from the regular fare. And the BeyondMeat Burger was simply delicious. The former is affordable at around 5 Euros, the latter on the expensive side at above 10 Euros, but neither are out of step with the price of the real-meat alternative in their respective class.

Made from Beyond Meat, the Vegan Burger at Aufglegt feels and tastes like its meaty cousin
Minced Meat (“Faschiertes”) is last. Much of our food life with teenagers involves the pizza and spaghetti universe, and so we also stress-tested two versions of minced meat, respectively applied in bolognese sauce that we ate with pasta. We tried Hofer’s JustVeg veganes Faschiertes (based on pea protein) at 3 Euro/200 grams and Spar’s Hermann Faschiertes, an Austrian product based on mushrooms and egg, for 3,50 Euro/150 grams. Fried in the pan, together with onions, salt, pepper and paprika, Hofer’s product comes very close to the real thing in taste and consistency, in particular when mixed with tomato sauce, oregano and other Italian spices. Hermann Faschiertes, on the other hand, will not come to our fridge again. Hofer’s is now on our family menu going forward.