Monday, July 14, 2014

Fast for the Earth: Passing On after Planting Good Seed

Dear Friends of Fast for the Earth,

In our home of South Dakota where Fast for the Earth started, we have focused a lot of our spiritual and physical energy on stopping the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The good news is: it has been stopped, at least for the time being. The permit to build it has just expired in South Dakota. Now, in order to build, Transcanada will have to start the permitting process all over again. If they do, many more of us will be organized and ready to say "no".

We continue to be heartened and challenged by the hard work and constant prayers of our indigenous leadership. For example, spirit camps have been set up along the pipeline route by different tribal communities to educate the public and also to pray and call upon the spirits to stop what native people call the "black snake." We celebrated with them not long ago how the snake has now been cut twice—in South Dakota and in Nebraska, our neighbor state to the south, where farmers and environmental activists have successfully tied up TransCanada in the courts.

We are glad for this temporary regional victory. But we also recognize that everyone on the planet remains at risk from the continuing exploitation of the natural world and from climate catastrophe. All too many people are already suffering from the terrible effects of these.

We are convinced that the movement to fast for the sake of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants must continue and grow as a form of spiritual resistance, a unifying spiritual practice, an awareness-raising tool, and more. But now, after two years, the time has come for us at the Fast for the Earth to turn over our portion of that work to other fasting efforts that have far more organizational resources than we do. These are the Global Climate Fast and Fast for the Climate. With widespread international participation, they are better able to mobilize us all into an effective spiritual and practical force for change. We encourage you to sign up for either or both of them, as have we.

Rest assured that the two of us remain committed to this struggle. As individuals we will continue to work together locally on these issues. We will remain staunch allies of native peoples. At least one of us will attend the People’s Climate March, the biggest climate march in history, on September 21, 2014, in New York City. We hope to see you there!

We want to say thank you. We are tremendously grateful for your past participation in the Fast for the Earth, and we send you all blessings for your ongoing fasting and work. Together—hundreds of participants in at least two dozen nations over two years—we have planted good seed, which has produced even more good seed. Together let’s be excited to see what will next sprout and bloom.

Deep peace,

Phyllis Cole-Dai, Co-Founder
Carl Kline, Co-Founder

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Christians & Climate

This post by Fast co-founder Carl Kline was first published by the Brookings Register (Brookings, South Dakota) on June 7, 2014.

That soaking, drenching rain the other day (we had a total of eight inches in our rain gauge over a two-day period) messed with my cucumber and zucchini hills at the community garden. They weren't hills anymore. The rain hammered them so hard it beat them almost level with the ground around them. Some of the plants were laying exposed, original seed, roots and all. I've done my best to save them and it appears many will survive. Still, you have to think about the depression and despair of farmers when a hail storm or worse destroys a year's crop.

One of the gardeners was telling me how last year her plot was flooded. Nothing survived. She had to start over again, which she did, but she added, "My heart wasn't in it."

Thinking about these multiplying "weird weather events" (as our mayor likes to call them), I've been pondering the question of why so many Christians seem unwilling to accept the evidence for man made climate change. The latest statistics show two-thirds of the general public believe the climate is changing but less than half of evangelical Christians. One would think that those who generally hold human sin in doctrinal reverence would recognize our tendencies toward doing the wrong thing. But instead, you have the likes of a Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma saying, "God's still up there, and the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what he is doing in the climate, is to me, outrageous."

In other words, it appears God wouldn't let climate change happen. Apparently, Inhofe doesn't believe in the idea of free will, that human beings have the capacity to make choices. And sometimes we make bad choices, like reaching for and eating the forbidden apple.

I tend to think there is more of an "end times" mentality at work. Some Christians take the apocalyptic material in the Bible literally. They believe Jesus will come again and take the saved to heaven with him. And their theology is such that life on earth is mostly a vale of tears. The important thing is believing strongly enough in Jesus that you will be saved and go to heaven with him.

Once, in India, I met a young man who was a newly converted Christian. It was when the U.S. and Soviet Union were locked in the nuclear arms race and the threat of nuclear war had the whole world on edge. We had watched a film together on the nuclear disarmament campaign that was growing world-wide, so I asked him if he would participate. "No," he said. The arms race was a sign the end times were near and he was prepared to be raptured into heaven with Jesus.

That conversation reminded me of when James Watt was Interior Secretary under President Reagan. Watt was a Christian dispensationalist and brought his faith to the office. He quintupled leases for mining and drilling and even though Time magazine named him one of the ten worst cabinet secretaries of all time, he managed to turn the country, radically, toward exploitation of natural resources and away from care of creation.

Watt periodically mentioned his faith in speaking about his approach to managing the environment. Speaking before Congress once he said, "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations."

This kind of attitude is not simply a thing of the past. Rick Santorum said something similar at a speech given at Colorado School of Mines in 2012. He remarked that we were given dominion over the earth (in the Genesis creation story) "for our benefit, not for the earth's benefit."

In other words, it's alright to exploit whatever God has provided in this good creation, as long as "we" benefit. I want to ask Rick who the "we" is in his statement. Is it the fishermen who lost their livelihood to the BP oil spill? Or the ones who lost  their livelihood on the east coast to overfishing? Is it the people who lost their homes to western wildfires or the growing numbers of poor worldwide, losing their lives to drought and flood and burgeoning climate catastrophe? Is it all of those dead and dying in wars fought for fossil fuels? Who are these people who are benefitting? Is it all of God's children, or perhaps just a select few?

And have we no natural and sacred connection to the bread and the fish of the land; to the water and earth and air? Are they not sacred, endowed by the same creator with the energy necessary for life?

Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian and also a scientist. She doesn't see those descriptions as mutually exclusive. She's reaching out to others who might listen. She says, "I feel like the conservative community, the evangelical community, and many other Christian communities, I feel like we have been lied to. We have been given information about climate change that is not true. We have been told that it is incompatible with our values, whereas in fact it's entirely compatible with conservative and Christian values."

Time magazine named Hayhoe one of the 100 most influential people of 2014. For her, nothing is more conservative than caring for the creation. "If you believe that God created the world, and basically gave it to humans as this incredible gift to live on, then why would you treat it like garbage? Treating the world like garbage says a lot about how you think about the person who you believe created the earth."


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"We Got Lost on the Road to Ideal": Fast Leader Visits Rosebud Spirit Camp

Fast co-founder Carl Kline reports on his visit to the Rosebud Spirit Camp this past Saturday for its "Hands Across the Land" demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance.

We got lost on the road to Ideal and arrived a little late. The camp is just off highway 183. You can see it from the highway.

We joined a group of some 50 to 60 Cowboys and Indians, in about equal numbers, from all around the plains states and beyond. I met folks from Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Two friends of mine traveled the farthest distance, from Australia. Since the camp is on Rosebud tribal land and is supported by tribal government, it's in an excellent spot to offer prayers and educational activities in relation to the pipeline, proposed to run through a field within sight of the camp.

Transcanada has been intentional about NOT crossing tribal lands with their proposed route for Keystone XL. Even so, their easement near the Spirit Camp includes some tribal land and there may be some legal ramifications of this. And if one were to respect treaty rights, all of the land Transcanada wants to cross is Indian land.

There are a half dozen people living at the camp 24/7. They have been there since March 29. The camp is well organized, as was our time together. There is a semi trailer for keeping foodstuffs. They have the necessary porta potties and cooking facilities to accommodate groups like ours. We were all fed in two connecting tents with wooden flooring before we left. There are seven or eight teepees set up in the main gathering area. One was in D.C. on the Mall at April's "Reject and Protect" demonstration there.

We heard updates of past activities from different members of the Alliance and learned about future events. We did some round dancing and joined in some prayers. There was an emphasis on the nonviolent and spiritually rooted nature of the camp. And there was ample opportunity to meet others, hear their stories and share encouragement. The individual stories alone are worth the travel.

We were able to take some food provided by the generosity of one of our companions and by members of Dakota Rural Action, who supply our farmers market. This was appreciated and provided some substantial on-going support to those living and working at the Spirit Camp.

The permit for the pipeline expires June 25th. To issue a new one, the South Dakota PUC will have to hold new hearings. They should hear a loud and clear message!

At Rosebud Spirit Camp, opposing Keystone XL on May 17, 2014. (Photo: Bold Nebraska)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Global "Fast for Climate Action" Spreading

People from all walks of life are fasting to stand in solidarity with vulnerable people who are most affected by dangerous climate impacts. By choosing not to eat on the first day of every month, a growing movement of fasters including many youth groups, environmentalists and faith communities, is calling for world leaders to act to confront the climate crisis.

The Fasting for the Climate movement started at the UN climate negotiations in Warsaw in November 2013. Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda had just devastated the Philippines and that country's climate commissioner, Yeb Saño, whose own family was caught up in the disaster, said he would not eat until the Warsaw conference ended or delivered actions by countries to “stop the madness” of the climate crisis. Hundreds of others from around the world chose to fast with him in solidarity. Despite this, the Warsaw meeting saw countries, like Japan, actually winding back their climate commitments, seemingly in denial that all countries will need to commit and contribute to the comprehensive, global climate action plan which is due in Paris in 2015.

This ongoing fast seeks to send a message to governments that people from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe, expect climate action. Already, millions of people have lost their homes and their livelihoods as a result of climate change. Yet government action remains profoundly inadequate and fails to secure the benefits a clean energy revolution would deliver for people and the planet.

The time to solve the crisis is now: we expect countries to cut carbon pollution and to secure a renewable energy supply. We expect richer countries to help poorer nations reduce their own pollution and adapt their communities to climate impacts, while we urge all world leaders to work together in order to ensure the planet is a safe and better place for future generations.

We will fast on the first day of every month, until countries agree a comprehensive, fair climate action plan that puts the world on a pathway to phase out carbon pollution.

Join the Fast! Visit

Look who's already involved: The Climate Action Network, World Council of Churches, The Lutheran World Federation, Global Call for Climate Action, Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Latin American Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, CIDSE, Avaaz,, Fast for the Earth, Global Climate Convergence, ClimateFast and many individuals including Archbishop Emeritus Rowan Williams, Imam Ebrahim Saidy, Sir Iakobo Taeia Italeli, Governor General of Tuvalu and Commissioner Yeb Saño.

Watch this brief video about the Fast. If you can't see the viewer below, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Words & Images from DC

Cowboy & Indian Alliance Making Big Statement Against Keystone XL

On Tuesday, the Cowboy Indian Alliance rode onto the National Mall and set up camp for a week of resistance. And they’re making an impression -- on the media, on passers by, and we hope, on the President.

To be honest, we were expecting that President Obama’s decision on Keystone XL was on its way as soon as next month, and "Reject & Protect" was meant to be an exclamation point on this campaign. But after Friday’s announcement that his final decision will be postponed indefinitely, everyone is gearing up to keep fighting this thing as long as it takes.

We can't wait to see everyone gathered together this Saturday in DC for the big tipi-gifting event. Please attend if you can, or look for coverage.

Note: If you can't see the viewer below, click here to watch this video.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Join the Global Climate Convergence, Earth Day to May Day!

We're a little late getting the word out on this initiative, but please consider joining "The Global Climate Convergence." Ten days of action, from Earth Day to May Day, 2014. People, planet, peace over profit!

One of the actions as part of the Global Climate Convergence is a global call to fast, Earth Day to May Day, or on one of the days during this period.

If you choose to participate in this Fast, from Earth Day to May Day please register on the international sign up page.

Watch this "Call to Action" video from the Global Climate Convergence. If you can't see the viewer below, click here to watch.