Tuesday, September 27, 2016
An interview with J. Matthew Sleeth, evangelical environmentalist and author By David Roberts on Oct 6, 2006 In 2000, a wealthy hospital chief of staff and evangelical Christian named J. Matthew Sleeth looked around at the life he’d built — suburban neighborhood, huge house, two cars, lots and lots of stuff — and decided it failed to properly honor God. J. Matthew Sleeth: listen to the heart.J. Matthew Sleeth: listen to the heart.In what he describes as a religious awakening, he, his wife, and their two teenage children set about bringing their lives in line with Jesus’ teachings. They moved into a smaller house, sold most of their belongings, cut their energy use by two-thirds, even began hanging their laundry out to dry. What followed was not deprivation but a life of renewed meaning and depth. Inspired, Sleeth quit his job, wrote a book called Serve God, Save the Planet, and set off traveling around the country to spread the good news of “creation care.” I caught him on the phone as he headed into Houston, where he planned to carry the message that “we have a problem.” Laughing over my pun-induced groan, he spoke with the alertness, urgency, and self-deprecating humor of a man who’s found something larger than himself to serve. Describe the personal journey that led you to write this book. My background is in medicine, as an emergency-room doctor. I was director of an ER and chief of staff of a hospital. When my wife and I were on vacation, she said, “What’s the biggest problem in the world?” I said, “I think it’s that the planet’s dying.” Really, when you’re an emergency-room doctor, you’re just straightening deck chairs on the Titanic, and the whole ship is going down. So we went through a series of changes, and we went through a religious awakening. I began to look more and more to the Bible for the answers to moral problems, which I think this is. In Christianity, Christ says, give half of everything you have to the Lord and follow me. If you have two coats, give one away, and first seek the Kingdom of Heaven; don’t store up treasures on earth. And between that and where I was in life as a doctor was huge gap. It also says to change yourself first, and then change somebody else. Don’t see the speck in the other person’s eye, but get the two-by-four out of your own. So our family went through a process of change where we gave more than half of what we owned away, and we moved from a house — kind of a doctor-sized house — to one that was the size of our garage. We cut our electricity use to a 10th of the national average, and we cut our [use of] fossil fuels. Then I started talking and writing a lot about what I was doing. The Bible-believing church in America has forgotten all of those lines, or needs to be reminded, about simplicity, frugality, and generosity toward other people who can’t repay you. I try to remind folks of those lines. I thought when I started this I would simply be talking in churches, but it’s 50/50 — 50 percent environmental groups and 50 percent church-based. Do you have any advice for environmentalists on how to speak to religious people, evangelicals in particular? When I go and talk at a conservative church, they may go from saying that there’s no global warming to deciding as a church to switch their power to green power, or change light bulbs [to CFLs], that sort of thing. It literally can happen in one session. J. Matthew Sleeth What people say is, “Well, nobody ever told us about this. Why didn’t someone tell us about this?” Environmentalists would say, “Well, they’re nuts, they’re not paying any attention — it’s overwhelming.” But these two different groups get their news and their information from two entirely different sides of the spectrum. The folks at 60 Minutes have a different crowd than the folks at the Salem Radio Network — and SRN has a way bigger crowd. They don’t even know each other exists! It’s a chasm. When you talk to a church and you want to get a church to do something, you have to talk to the heart, and you have to use the Bible. You have to speak the language of the church. Too often folks in the environmental movement have made people of faith feel uncomfortable. Another thing that happens over and over again: I’ll speak to an environmental group, and ask them, “Is anybody here an evangelical Christian?” One person will raise their hand. But after the talk, a number of them come forward. They’re scared to say it! Same thing in the church: I’ll talk, and afterwards people will say, “Well, I work for the state Department of Environmental Protection, and I just kept my mouth shut.” But when somebody speaks the language of a group, they hear it. If I went and talked about greenhouse gases and global warming and 381 parts per billion of CO2 … humans don’t change their behavior based on statistics. We change our behavior based upon our hearts. The person out driving a Hummer didn’t buy it because of the statistics, because there isn’t anything that supports buying a Hummer. They bought it for some emotional reason. Faith is about all those things you can’t measure, whereas science is measurement. I consider myself a scientist, but the faith side of me is able to speak to things like justice and peace and love, and greed or sin or guilt. If people don’t feel a little guilty and sinful about their lifestyle, we’re doomed. The amazing thing is, I get up and talk about these things like sin and guilt and the fact that this earth is a sacred thing, as it says in the Bible, and nobody has any problem with that. When you talk science, I don’t know whether it’s honest or not. Scientists from 100 years ago thought they were dead right about something. And you can be inadvertently wrong, you know what I mean? But we know, absolutely, that love is a good thing. You’re never going to go wrong on that. You’re never going to go wrong if you take Christ’s advice to treat your neighbor like you want to be treated yourself. My advice is, if you’re an environmentalist, to have an earnest, listening talk with somebody of faith and find out where they are first. The worst way to get anybody to change anything is to walk up and say, “You’re stupid. You need to change.” Are you running into resistance when you try to bring these two groups together, from either side? Amazingly, no. I’ll bring a Bible along, and point out that the symbol of God is a tree, and of course the symbol of the Sierra Club is a tree. I’ll say that the first step everybody takes in environmental awareness, stewardship of the earth, is not to throw their trash out the window while they drive down the road. Nobody disagrees with that. And the church is at that step. They think at step one: they give a hoot, they don’t pollute. So if you want to bring those two groups together, and you suggest that the environmentalists enlist the aid of the church in cleaning up a stream, there’s no controversy. Because you’ve started at step one. If you want to show An Inconvenient Truth, now you’ve started at step 60, and there’s a problem. Your book focuses pretty exclusively on individual actions people can take to clean up their own immediate environment. But the problems we face are huge and global, and there’s no way they’re going to be solved without political action. I agree. But what happens is that people show up at a meeting to stop a power plant from being built, and then go home and flip their light switch on. They’re sending another signal — we want the power. Politicians are very savvy about reading their constituents. They pay attention to what people really want, not what they say. The moment you start practicing democracy at home by turning off the light switch, you become an activist saying one thing and doing the same thing. When you change the heart of people, when you get to that 5 percent that sociologists say can change a population by doing a particular behavior … if you’ve got 5 percent of Americans insisting on hanging up their laundry, then you’re going to have presidential hopefuls next election primary in New Hampshire, I guarantee you, hanging up laundry with somebody. People who think that top-down change happens exclusive from bottom-up, well, there’s a disconnect there. It doesn’t happen that way. The idea is that if enough individual people change their behavior, it will send a political signal? Absolutely. If we can get people to put the “conserve” back in “conservatives,” you’ll see the sea change everybody is hoping for. My dream is that three years from now, traditional Republicans are promising an organic chicken in every pot, and Democrats are promising two organic chickens in every pot. They both read their constituencies very well, and what we want right now is our cake and to eat it too. We’re not really willing to get out of our big cars; we’re not really willing to conserve. Therefore, I’m working on the heart change. An example I use over and over again is, there’s no person who tried harder, politically or with his writing, to point out the injustices of slavery than Thomas Jefferson. If you go to the Jefferson Memorial, on the right-hand side it says, “God will not long tolerate this great injustice.” He tried to get rid of it in the Constitution, but I think everyone said, “Yeah, right, Tom. You’re the second biggest slave-owner in America.” And they went about business as usual. In a democracy, we’re supposed to have leaders that are a reflection of the populace. And that’s what we’re getting. That’s kind of depressing. Well, that’s why I want to change the populace. There’s a strain of evangelical Christianity — and if you look at the sales figures for the Left Behind books, it’s not small — that believes in a certain interpretation of the Book of Revelation which says Jesus is coming back soon, the End Times are coming in our lifetime … And why bother? Right, why bother. Why not even speed things up? Right. Which looks like what’s happening. What I do is remind folks who believe this could be the End Times that the point of the End Times is to do the Lord’s work, and to redouble your efforts. I try to make it real and personal: I have everybody in the room imagine that NASA just said there’s a meteor heading toward us, it’s the size of a moon, and there’s no way to stop it. Nothing can be done, and the Earth is going to be destroyed in four weeks. That’s all the time you’ve got. I ask people to truly search their hearts, ask if they think they’re just going to go on a vacation to Disney World to have their kid shake the hand of a big plastic rodent, versus go to church, versus … My guess is that there would be no homeless people downtown, that they would be inundated with invitations to come to dinner in people’s houses and to church. And I remind everybody that their own personal End Time is within 100 years, no matter who’s in the audience. When Christ says, “I come quickly,” he means, “Don’t let me catch you sleeping.” If you’re like the average American that reaches age 71, you’ve spent 10 years of your life watching television. Christ isn’t talking about literally taking a nap or sleeping your eight hours a night — he’s talking about being spiritually, mentally, asleep. A lot of us need to wake up. You’re familiar then with the Great Awakening and the Second Awakening in this country. This, I think, will be the third. I think you’ll just see rapid, rapid change. I mean, when Pat Robertson’s on the bandwagon, look for a big change. I don’t get into name-calling of prominent televangelists who are still denying global warming, because I am positive they’ll be our allies in a year or two’s time. Another thing traditional environmentalists would say is that one of the biggest problems humanity faces, if not the biggest, is exploding population. Absolutely. But there’s a strain in Christianity generally, and particularly fundamentalist Christianity or evangelical Christianity, that emphasizes multiplying and populating the earth with big families. The Bible does say, “Be fruitful and multiply.” It says, “Love one another.” It says, “Do the great commissioning.” It says look after the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, take care of the sick. Of all the commandments given by God, the first one that humanity can check off as done is, “Be fruitful and multiply.” [Laughs.] So we’re done there. We’re done. We need to move on to the next one. Christian environmentalism springs out of the notion in the Bible of stewardship or dominion — that mankind was given dominion over the earth and thus has an obligation to take care of it. Some traditional environmentalists might say that this notion, that humanity has some special place that’s separate and above nature, and our needs take priority, is the root of the problem. Do you see any tension there? I see tension, but I also see the potential for the answer. I believe that we are slightly less than the angels, but not much less, and that we are the sentient beings on the planet, and that we do have a special place. We are made in God’s image, which means that we’re supposed to do the work of God here on Earth, which is to take care of all things lesser than us. That starts first with our children, and the unborn children of the next generation. When you begin to think of it like that, the onus is on us to take care of the planet. It isn’t that God says, “Do whatever you want and I’ll fix it up after you.” You wouldn’t get verses like out of Numbers [35:33-34]: “Don’t pollute the land you live in, in which I also dwell.” What’s happened is we’ve all gotten wrapped up in a lifestyle of bigger is better. There’s a deep, spiritual hunger and yearning that cuts across this boundary between the church and environmentalists. If you go and see an environmental movie and you come out numb, or feeling sad, you do what Americans do to comfort yourself. You go to the mall. You go eat. You watch a senseless, violent movie or something. But [at my talks] I see people going out crying. And that’s where they go change. Those people don’t go to the mall. They begin to take a look at their life, and they begin to change it. The unique thing about having a faith-driven life is that, at least in Christianity, you have this personal responsibility to God. So I tell people, this is a war to save the world we’re in now, or shortly going to be declared as such. You have to look in the mirror when you brush your teeth to find the enemy, but the person who’s going to save it is in the mirror, too. You know, I was given dominion over a bike when I was a kid, but my parents didn’t have enough money to give me dominion over another bike. We’re beginning to wake up to the fact that there’s no spare planet around to replace this one. It’s hard to face problems when there’s no enemy to fight but ourselves. That’s one area where Christianity has a long and rich tradition, helping overcome that part of human nature. Right. It’s sensational to write about the Inquisition and forget about St. Francis. It’s easy to blame Christianity for ruining the planet and forget that the Amish have got the only sustainable long-term society that exists in America. One of the things people want to say is, “Oh, what about the Chinese? They’re gonna get cars.” Well, one in 17,000 Chinese owns a car. We’ve got 200 million of them in the United States, with 300 million people. We need to look to ourselves, absolutely. That’s where you can go right to Christ: “Look not to the speck in your neighbor’s eye but to the moat in your own.” By the way, when Gandhi read that, he rewrote it as, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and he gave credit to the Bible in his book The Story of My Experiments With Truth. It’s human nature, but that’s the corrective nature of having a belief in the Bible. Have you envisioned the implications if everybody took your advice? Yes. We’re going to have a lot more trees and a lot fewer TVs. We’ve got those tests from sociologists and psychologists that show that the size of a house has increased 100 percent or something in the last 50 years, and we’re no happier. Einstein’s definition of insanity is that you keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. I don’t think that the meaning of life is things. And the Bible doesn’t support that either. So if we lose things, that’s where we need to go.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The Oxford Group was a Christian organization founded by American Christian missionary Dr. Frank Buchman. Dr. Buchman believed that the root of all problems were the personal problems of fear and selfishness. Further, Dr. Buchman believed that the solution to living with fear and selfishness was to surrender one's life over to God's Plan. Buchman was an American Lutheran minister of Swiss descent who in 1908 had a conversion experience in a chapel in Keswick, England where he attended a decisive sermon by Jessie Penn-Lewis in the course of the 1908 Keswick Convention. As a result of that experience he would in 1921 found a movement called A First Century Christian Fellowship. By 1931 the Fellowship had become known as the Oxford Group.:11–12, 52 The Oxford Group enjoyed wide popularity and success, particularly in the 1930s. In 1932 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, in summing up a discussion of the Oxford Groups with his Diocesan Bishops, said, "There is a gift here of which the church is manifestly in need." Two years later William Temple, Archbishop of York, paid tribute to the Oxford Groups which "are being used to demonstrate the power of God to change lives and give to personal witness its place in true discipleship." In 1938, Buchman proclaimed a need for "moral re-armament" and that phrase became the movement's new name. Buchman headed MRA for 23 years until his death in 1961. In 2001 the movement was renamed Initiatives of Change. Keswick Although Frank Buchman was originally a Lutheran, he was deeply influenced by the Higher Life movement whose strongest contribution to evangelism in Britain was the Keswick Convention. He had come to the Keswick convention in 1908 hoping to meet pastor F. B. Meyer, one the leading lights of the Keswick convention and one of the main advocates of silent meditation as a means to be inspired by God. Unfortunately - or fortunately - Meyer was not present, and Frank Buchman chose to attend the sermon by Jessie Penn-Lewis instead, which became a life-changing experience for him:30 F. B. Meyer's influence on Buchman was a major one. Meyer had published The Secret of Guidance in 1896. One of his mottos was: "Let no day pass without its season of silent waiting before God." Meyer personally coached Buchman into daily guidance.:36 The theology of the Keswick convention at the time was Christian holiness with its idea, originally derived from Methodism, of the second work of grace which would allow "entire sanctification": Christians living in close union with Christ could remain free from sin through the Holy Spirit. That is where the frequent, and to many Lutheran or Reformed ears, bizarre assertion by Buchman that "human nature can change" originates. Absolute moral standards belong by Holiness even though the formula used by Buchman had been formulated by the American Presbyterian missionary Robert Elliott Speer (see The Four Absolutes infra). The name The name "Oxford Group" appeared in South Africa in 1929, as a result of a railway porter writing the name on the windows of those compartments reserved by a travelling team of Frank Buchman followers. They were from Oxford and in South Africa to promote the movement. The South African press picked up on the name and it stuck.:52–53 It stuck because many of the campaigns of the Oxford Group were undergirded by Oxford University students and staff. And every year between 1930 and 1937 house-parties were held at the University. In the summer of 1933, for instance, 5,000 guests turned up for some part of an event which filled six colleges and lasted seventeen days. Almost 1,000 were clergy, including twelve bishops. In June 1939 the Oxford Group was legally incorporated. Beliefs - Not a religion The Oxford group literature defines the group as not being a religion, for it had "no hierarchy, no temples, no endowments, its workers no salaries, no plans but God's plan." Their chief aim was "A new world order for Christ, the King." In fact one could not belong to the Oxford group for it had no membership list, badges, or definite location. It was simply a group of people from all walks of life who have surrendered their life to God. Their endeavor was to lead a spiritual life under God's Guidance and their purpose was to carry their message so others could do the same. The group was more like a religious revolution, unhampered by institutional ties; it combined social activities with religion, it had no organized board of officers. The Group declared itself to be not an "organization" but an "organism". Though Frank Buchman was the group's founder and leader, group members believed their true leader to be the Holy spirit and relied on God Control, meaning guidance received from God by those people who had fully "surrendered" to God's will.:113 By working within all the churches, regardless of denomination, they drew new members.:6 A newspaper account in 1933 described it as "personal evangelism -- one man talking to another or one woman discussing her problems with another woman was the order of the day".:141 In 1936, Good Housekeeping described the Group having no membership, no dues, no paid leaders, no new theological creed, nor regular meetings, it is simply a fellowship of people who desire to follow a way of life, a determination not a denomination.:170 How God Can Lead People Frank Buchman speeches include references about, "The Oxford Group's" primary purpose. The Oxford Group seeks to be living Christianity. It builds on the accomplished work of Jesus Christ as set forth in the New Testament. Its aim is to bring to life and make real for each person the articles of faith with which his own Church provides him. The international problems are, at bottom, personal problems of selfishness and fear. Lives must be changed if problems are to be solved. Peace in the world can only spring from peace in the hearts of men. A dynamic experience of God's free spirit is the answer to regional antagonism, economic depression, racial conflict and international strife. The secret is God Control. The only sane people in an insane world are those controlled by God. God-controlled personalities make God-controlled nationalities. This is the aim of the Oxford Group. The true patriot gives his life to bring his nation under God's control. .... World peace will only come through nations which have achieved God-control. And everybody can listen to God. You can. I can. Everybody can have a part. There are those who feel that internationalism is not enough. Nationalism can unite a nation. Supernationalism can unite a world. God-controlled supernationalism seems to be the only sure foundation for world peace!" I challenge Denmark to be a miracle among the nations, her national policy dictated by God, her national defense the respect and gratitude of her neighbors, her national armament an army of life-changers. Denmark can demonstrate to the nations that spiritual power is the first force in the world. The true patriot gives his life to bring about his country's resurrection." The Four Absolutes Moral standards of absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love, though recognised as impossible to attain, were guidelines to help determine whether a course of action was directed by God. The Four Absolutes seem to have first appeared in a book by Robert E. Speer, titled The Principles of Jesus. In the Chapter, Jesus and Standards, Speer laid down Four Principles (honesty, purity, unselfishness, love) that he believed represented the distilled, uncompromising, moral principles taught by Jesus. Speer quoted Bible verses for each Principle. In 1909, Professor Henry B. Wright of Yale, citing Speer's work, dug up many more Bible verses that set forth these same Principles in the YMCA book: The Will of God and a Man's Lifework. Wright dubbed them Absolutes rather than Principles. Next, Frank Buchman and the Oxford Group/Moral Rearmament adopted and popularized the phrase "The Four Absolutes". In Oxford terms, sin was "anything that kept one from God or one another" and is "as contagious as any bodily disease." The soul needs cleansing: "We all know ‘nice’ sinless sinners who need that surgical spiritual operation as keenly as the most miserable sinner of us all.":11–16 Spiritual practices To be spiritually reborn, the Oxford Group advocated four practices set out below::9 1. The sharing of our sins and temptations with another Christian. 2. Surrender our life past, present and future, into God's keeping and direction. 3. Restitution to all whom we have wronged directly or indirectly. 4. Listening for God's guidance, and carrying it out. Guidance The central practice to the Oxford/MRA members was guidance, which was usually sought in the "quiet time" of early morning using pen and paper. The grouper would normally read the Bible or other spiritual literature, then take time in quiet with pen and paper, seeking God's direction for the day ahead, trying to find God's perspective on whatever issues were on the listener's mind. He or she would test their thoughts against the standards of absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, and normally check with a colleague. Guidance was also sought collectively from groupers when they formed teams. They would take time in quiet, each individual writing his or her sense of God's direction on the matter in question. They would then check with each other, seeking consensus on the action to take. Some church leaders criticised this practice. Others supported it. The Oxford theologian, Dr B H Streeter, Provost of Queen's College, made it the subject of the Warburton Lectures, given at Oxford University in 1933-5. These lectures were published under the title The God Who Speaks. Throughout the ages, he wrote, men and women have sought God's will in quiet and listening. The Oxford Group was following a long tradition. Sometimes groupers were banal in their descriptions of guidance. However, innumerable examples can be given of groupers discovering creative initiatives through times of quiet seeking God's direction, as can be seen in books about the Oxford Group such as A J Russell's book, 'For Sinners Only', which went through 17 editions in two years, or Garth Lean's 'Frank Buchman - a life' Buchman would share the thoughts which he felt were guided by God, but whether others pursued those thoughts was up to them. Sharing In the Oxford Group, sharing was considered a necessity, it allowed one to be healed, therefore it was also a blessing to share.:19–21 Sharing not only brought relief but honest sharing of sin and of victory over sin helped others to openness about themselves. Sharing built trust. The message one brings to others by speaking of one's own sins, one's own experiences, the power of God in guiding one's life would bring hope to others that a spiritually changed life gives strength to overcome life's difficulties. It must be done with total conviction for "Half measures will be as fruitless as no measures.":25 Some found public confession disturbing. Beverley Nichols stated "And all that business about telling one's sins in public.... It is spiritual nudism!" However Cuthbert Bardsley, who worked with Buchman for some years and later became Bishop of Coventry, said, 'I never came across public confession in house parties - or very, very rarely. Frank tried to prevent it - and was very annoyed if people ever trespassed beyond the bounds of decency.':139 Buchman's biographer, Garth Lean, wrote that he attended meetings from 1932 on 'and cannot recall hearing any unwise public confessions.' Five C's and Five Procedures The five C's: confidence, confession, conviction, conversion, and continuance was the process of life changing undertaken by the life changer. Confidence, the new person had to have confidence in you and know you would keep his secrets. Confession, honesty about the real state of a persons life. Conviction, the seriousness of his sin and the need to free of it. Conversion, the process had to be the persons own free will in the decision to surrender to God. Continuance, you were responsible as a life changer to help the new person become all that God wanted him to be. Only God could change a person and the work of the life changer had to be done under God's direction.:79 Methods "House parties" The first Oxford Group House Party was held in China in 1918. In the summer of 1930 the first International House Party was held at Oxford, followed by another the next year attended by 700 people. By 1934 the International House Party had grown and was attended by representatives from 40 nations, and by the 1935 meeting it had grown and was attended by 50 nations, to the total of 10,000 representatives. The 1936 meeting at Birmingham drew 15,000 people and The First National Assembly held in Massachusetts drew almost 10,000 people. There were also travelling teams; many house parties featured out-of-town people who came to the party to relate their experiences in the "Group Way of Life". Attendance was by printed invitation. Invitations were also sent to "key people" in the community. House parties were held in a variety of locations: a wealthy home, at a fashionable hotel, inn, or summer resort, as well as outdoor camps, and at times held in less fashionable locations such as a college dorm. House parties were held from a weekend up to two weeks. A house party team would meet in advance for training and preparation. The teams would remain throughout the meetings and handle a number of details. Oxford Group literature was on display. Meetings followed no formal agenda and were not like church meetings, as singing and public prayer were absent. Time was devoted to talks by the team members on subjects such as sin, surrender, quiet time, the four absolutes, guidance, and intelligent witness. The use of slogans Most were coined through Buchman's quiet time; he knew slogans would catch attention, be more easily remembered and more readily repeated. They provided simple answers to problems people face in themselves and others. A few are listed below:129 Pray: stands for Powerful Radiograms Always Yours Constipated Christians Come clean Every man a force, not a field Interesting sinners make compelling saints When a man listens God speaks A spiritual radiophone in every home Sin blinds sin binds World changing through life-changing Oxford Group literature Some of the Oxford Group literature is available online. See references. For Sinners Only by Arthur James Russell was characterized as the Oxford Group "bible." Soul Surgery By H. A. Walter, What is the Oxford Group by Layman with a Notebook, and Eight Points of the Oxford Group by C. Irving Benson. For alcoholics there were three autobiographies by Oxford members who were active alcoholics which were published in the 1930s. These books provided accounts of the alcoholics' failed attempts to make their lives meaningful until, as a result of their Oxford membership, they found a transformation in their lives and sobriety through surrendering to God. The stories contained in Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, are very similar in style to these much earlier works.:176 The books were The Big Bender, Life Began Yesterday and I Was Pagan by V.C. Kitchen. Campaigns through Europe The Oxford Group conducted campaigns in many European countries. In 1934 a team of 30 visited Norway at the invitation of Carl Hambro, President of the Norwegian Parliament. 14,000 people crammed into three meetings in one of Oslo's largest halls, and there were countless other meetings across the country. At the end of that year the Oslo daily Tidens Tegn commented in its Christmas number, "A handful of foreigners who neither knew our language, nor understood our ways and customs, came to the country. A few days later the whole country was talking about God, and two months after the thirty foreigners arrived, the mental outlook of the whole country has definitely changed." On 22 April 1945 Bishop Fjellbu, Bishop of Trondheim, preached in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. "I wish to state publicly," he said, "that the foundations of the united resistance of Norwegian Churchmen to Nazism were laid by the Oxford Group's work.":232 Similar stories can be told of campaigns in Denmark, where the Primate of Denmark, Bishop Fuglsang-Damgaard, Bishop of Copenhagen, said that the Oxford Group "has opened my eyes to that gift of God which is called Christian fellowship, and which I have experienced in this Group to which I now belong.":78 When the Nazis invaded Denmark, Bishop Fuglsang-Damgaard was sent to a concentration camp. Before imprisonment he smuggled a message to Buchman saying that through the Oxford Group he had found a spirit which the Nazis could not break and that he went without fear. Presence in the USA By 1936, the organization had already come to national attention from the media and Hollywood. Attempt to reach Nazi leaders In the 1930s the Oxford Group had a substantial following in Germany. They watched the rise of the National Socialist party with alarm, as did those elsewhere in Europe and America. Buchman kept in close touch with his German colleagues, and felt compelled to attempt to reach the Nazi leaders in Germany and win them to a new approach. It was a time when Churchill and Karl Barth were ready to give German National Socialism (Nationalsozialismus) a chance to prove itself as a democratic political movement, despite its obvious and repeated denunciation of democracy. Hitler had, at first, presented himself as a defender of Christianity, declaring in 1928: "We shall not tolerate in our ranks anyone who hurts Christian ideas." Buchman was convinced that without a change in the heart of the National Socialist regime a world war would become inevitable. He also believed that any person, including the German leaders, could find a living Christian faith with a commitment to Christ's moral values.:233–237 He tried to meet Hitler but was unsuccessful. He met with Himmler three times at the request of Moni von Crammon, an Oxford Group adherent, the last time in 1936. To a Danish journalist and friend he said a few hours after the final interview that the doors were now closed. "Germany has come under the domination of a terrible demonic power. A counter-action is absolutely necessary." As study of Gestapo documents has revealed, the Nazis watched the Oxford Group with suspicion from 1934 on. A first detailed secret Gestapo report about The Oxford – or Group Movement was published in November 1936 warning that it had turned into a dangerous opponent of National Socialism'. The Nazis also classified the Stalinist version of Bolshevism and non-Nazi, right-wing groups such as Catholic Action as dangerous to Nazism. Upon his return to New York from Berlin, Buchman gave a number of interviews. He was quoted as reportedly saying, "I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front line of defence against the anti-Christ of Communism." The Rev. Garrett Stearly, one of Buchman's colleagues from Princeton University who was present at the interview, wrote, "I was amazed when the story came out. It was so out of key with the interview." Buchman chose not to respond to the article, feeling that to do so would endanger his friends among the opposition in Germany.:240 During the war, the Oxford Group in Germany divided into three parts. Some submitted to Himmler's demand that they cut all links with Buchman and the Oxford Group abroad. The largest group continued the work of bringing Christian change to people under a different name, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Seelsorge (Working team for the Care of Souls), without being involved in politics and always subject to surveillance. A third group joined the active opposition. Moni Von Crammon's son-in-law was one of those executed along with Adam von Trott zu Solz. They were executed under Hitler's orders after the July 20 plot. After World War II, further Gestapo documents came to light; one from 1939 states: "The Group preaches revolution against the national state and has quite evidently become its Christian opponent." Another, from 1942, states: "No other Christian movement has underlined so strongly the character of Christianity as being supernational and independent of all racial barriers.":242 Some from the Oxford Group in Germany continued to oppose the Nazi regime during the war. In Norway, Bishop Fjellbu of Trondheim said in 1945: "I wish to state publicly that the foundations of the united resistance of Norwegian Churchmen to Nazism were laid by the Oxford Group's work." Moral Re-Armament Main article: Moral Re-Armament In 1938, Buchman made a speech in East Ham Town Hall, London, in which he stated: "The crisis is fundamentally a moral one. The nations must re-arm morally. Moral recovery is essentially the forerunner of economic recovery." The same year the British tennis star H. W. Austin edited the book Moral Rearmament (The Battle for Peace), which sold half a million copies.:279 Gradually the former Oxford Group developed into Moral Re-Armament. A number of groups as well as individuals dissociated themselves from Buchman as a result of his launching of Moral Re-Armament. Some Oxford Group members disapproved Buchman's attention to matters not purely personal, or his 'going into politics'. Buchman's view was that if Moral Re-Armament was the car, the Oxford Group was the engine, and that individual change was the basis of both. He had said to his students of Penn State and Hartford as early as 1921 that the Oxford Group was "a programme of life issuing in personal, social, racial, national and supernational change" or that it had "nothing to do with politics, yet everything to do with politics, because it leads to change in politicians." Nonetheless, while maintaining a lot of Christian language, MRA became inclusive of all shades of religious and philosophical convictions, Buchman comparing in a speech MRA to "the good road of an ideology inspired by God upon which all can unite. Catholic, Jew and Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Confucianist - all find they can change, where needed and travel along this good road together." In Britain the Oxford Group/Moral Re-Armament was very active. The novelist Daphne du Maurier published 'Come Wind, Come Weather', stories of ordinary Britons who had found hope and new life through the Group. She dedicated it to 'Frank Buchman, whose initial vision made possible the world of the living characters in these stories,' and added, 'What they are doing up and down the country in helping men and women solve their problems, and prepare them for whatever lies ahead, will prove to be of national importance in the days to come.' The book sold 650,000 copies in Britain alone. When war broke out, MRA workers joined the Allied forces in large numbers, and were decorated for valour in many theatres of war. Others worked to heighten morale and overcome bottlenecks, particularly in war-related industries. About 30 Oxford Group workers were exempted from military service to continue this work. However, when Ernest Bevin became Minister of Labour in 1940, he decided to conscript them. Over 2,500 clergy and ministers signed a petition opposing this, and 174 Members of Parliament put down a motion stating the same. Bevin made it clear that he would resign from the Government if he was defeated, and the Government put a three-line whip upon its supporters. As a result, the Oxford Group workers were excluded from the Exemption from Military Service bill. In the United States, where Moral Re-Armament was doing similar work, Senator (later President) Harry Truman, Chair of the Senate Committee investigating war contracts, told a Washington press conference in 1943: 'Suspicions, rivalries, apathy, greed lie behind most of the bottlenecks. This is where the Moral Re-Armament group comes in. Where others have stood back and criticized, they have rolled up their sleeves and gone to work. They have already achieved remarkable results in bringing teamwork into industry, on the principles not of "who's right" but of "what's right".':324 At the end of the war, the MRA workers returned to the task of establishing a lasting peace. In 1946 MRA bought and restored a large, derelict hotel at Caux, Switzerland, and this became a centre for reconciliation across Europe, bringing together thousands including German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman.:382 Its work was described by historians Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson as an 'important contribution to one of the greatest achievements in the entire record of modern statecraft: the astonishingly rapid Franco-German reconciliation after 1945.' In the following decades, MRA's work expanded across the globe, particularly into the African and Asian countries moving towards independence from colonial rule. Many leaders of these independence struggles have paid tribute to MRA's contribution towards bringing unity between groups in conflict, and helping ease the transition into independence. In 1956 King Mohammed V of Morocco sent a message to Buchman: 'I thank you for all you have done for Morocco in the course of these last testing years. Moral Re-Armament must become for us Muslims as much an incentive as it is for you Christians and for all nations.':454 In 1960 Archbishop Makarios and Dr Kucuk, President and Vice-President of Cyprus, jointly sent the first flag of independent Cyprus to Frank Buchman at Caux in recognition of MRA's help.:524 In 2001 Moral Re-Armament (MRA), became "Initiatives of Change", a name expressing the emphasis of the organization in effecting social change beginning with personal change. Initiatives of Change claims spiritual roots but no religious affiliation, and invites "those with a faith...both to explore the roots of their own tradition, and to discover and respect the beliefs of others." Impact and legacy Oxford Group's impact on industry In Buchman's view, management and labour could 'work together like the fingers on the hand,' and in order to make that possible he aimed to answer 'the self-will in management and labour who are both so right, and so wrong.' MRA's role was to offer the experience which would free those people's hearts and minds from the motivations or prejudices which prevent just solutions. William Grogan, an International Vice-President of the American Transport Workers' Union, said that 'between 1946 and 1953 national union leaders, local union officials, shop stewards and rank and file union members from 75 countries had received training' in MRA principles. Evert Kupers, for 20 years President of the Dutch Confederation of Trades Unions, stated that 'the thousands who have visited Caux have been deeply impressed by its message for our age and by the real comradeship they found there.' In France Maurice Mercier, Secretary-General of the textile workers within the Force Ouvriere, said: 'Class war today means one half of humanity against the other half, each possessing a powerful arsenal of destruction... Not one cry of hatred, not one hour of work lost, not one drop of blood shed - that is the revolution to which MRA calls bosses and workers.' Relationship to Alcoholics Anonymous In Akron, Ohio, Jim Newton, an Oxford Group member knew that one of Firestone's sons, Russell, was a serious alcoholic. He took him first to a drying-out clinic and then on to an Oxford Group conference in Denver. The young man gave his life to God, and thereafter enjoyed extended periods of sobriety. The family doctor called it a ‘medical miracle’. Harvey Firestone Senior was so grateful that, in January 1933, he invited Buchman and a team of sixty to conduct a ten-day campaign in Akron. They left behind them a strong functioning group which met each week in the house of T. Henry Williams, amongst whom were an Akron surgeon, Bob Smith, and his wife Anne. Bob was a secret drinker.:151–152 Rowland Hazard, claimed that it was Carl Jung who caused him to seek a spiritual solution to his alcoholism, which led to Rowland joining the Oxford group. He was introduced by Shep Cornell to Cornell's friend Ebby Thacher, Ebby had a serious drinking problem. Hazard introduced Ebby to Carl Jung's theory and then to the Oxford Group. For a time Ebby took up residence at Reverend Sam Shoemaker's Calvary Rescue Mission:381–386 that catered mainly to saving down-and-outs and drunks. Shoemaker taught inductees the concept of God being that of one's understanding. Ebby Thacher, in keeping with the Oxford Teachings, needed to keep his own conversion experience real by carrying the Oxford message of salvation to others. Ebby had heard that his old drinking buddy Bill Wilson was again drinking heavily. Thacher and Cornell visited Wilson at his home and introduced him to the Oxford Group's religious conversion cure. Wilson, an agnostic, was "aghast" when Thacher told him he had "got religion".:131–139 A few days later, in a drunken state, Wilson went to the Calvary Rescue Mission in search of Ebby Thacher. It was there that he attended his first Oxford Group meeting and would later describe the experience: "Penitents started marching forward to the rail. Unaccountably impelled, I started too... Soon, I knelt among the sweating, stinking penitents... Afterward, Ebby... told me with relief that I had done all right and had given my life to God." The Call to the Altar did little to curb Wilson's drinking. A couple of days later, he re-admitted himself to Charles B. Towns Hospital. Wilson had been admitted to Towns hospital three times earlier between 1933 and 1934. This would be his fourth and last stay.:150 Wilson did not obtain his spiritual awakening by his attendance at the Oxford Group.[according to whom?] He had his "hot flash"[vague] conversion at Towns Hospital. The hospital was set up and run by Charles B. Towns and his associate Dr. Alexander Lambert, who together had concocted up a drug cocktail for the treatment of alcoholism that bordered on quackery medicine[editorializing] known as "the belladonna cure." The formula consisted of the two deliriants Atropa belladonna and Hyoscyamus niger, which were known to cause hallucinations. Wilson had his "hot flash" spiritual awakening while being treated with these drugs.[improper synthesis?] He claimed to have seen a white light and when he told his attending physician, Dr. William Silkworth about his experience, he was advised not to discount it. When Wilson left the hospital he never drank again.:83–87, 165–167 After his release from the Hospital, Wilson attended Oxford Group meetings and went on a mission to save other alcoholics. His prospects came through Towns Hospital and the Calvary Mission. Though he was not able to keep one alcoholic sober, he found that by engaging in the activity of trying to convert others he was able to keep himself sober. It was this realization, that he needed another alcoholic to work with, that brought him into contact with Dr. Bob Smith while on a business trip in Akron, Ohio. Earlier Wilson had been advised by Dr. Silkworth to change his approach and tell the alcoholics they suffered from a disease, one that could kill them, and afterward apply the Oxford Practices. The idea that alcoholism was a disease not a moral failing was different from the Oxford concept that drinking was a sin. This is what he brought to Bob Smith on their first meeting. Smith was the first alcoholic Wilson helped to sobriety. Dr. Bob and Bill W., as they were later called, went on to found Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson later acknowledged in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, page 39: "The early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Group and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and from nowhere else." In 1934 James Houck joined the Oxford Group and became sober on Dec. 12, one day after Wilson did. AA was founded on June 10, 1935, the day Bill W and Dr. Bob met for the first time. incorrect: Bill Wilson met and spoke with Dr. Bob on Mother's Day May 12, 1935, however Dr. Bob didn't stay sober subsequent to that meeting. He finally sobered up almost a month later on June 10, 1935 and it's that event, his first day of continuous sobriety rather than the day he met Bill Wilson, which is considered the 'birthday' of Alcoholics Anonymous. Houck was the last surviving person to have attended Oxford Group meetings with Wilson, who died in 1971. In September 2004, at the age of 98, Houck was still active in the group, now renamed Moral Re-armament, and it was his mission to restore the Oxford Group's spiritual methods through the Back to Basics program, a twelve step program similar to AA. Houck believed the old Oxford spiritual methods were stronger and more effective than the ones currently practiced in A.A. Houck was trying to introduce the program into the prison systems. Houcks assessment of Wilson's time in the Oxford group: He was never interested in the things we were interested in; he only wanted to talk about alcoholism; he was not interested in giving up smoking; he was a ladies man and would brag of his sexual exploits with other members, and in Houck's opinion he remained an agnostic. For more details on this topic, see articles on Alcoholics Anonymous and the History of AA. Influences Because of its influence on the lives of several highly prominent individuals, the Group attracted highly visible members of society, including members of the British Parliament and other European leaders and such prominent Americans as the Firestone family, founders of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Ohio. Though sometimes controversial (the Group attracted opposition from the Roman Catholic Church), the Group grew into a well-known, informal and international network of people by the 1930s. The London newspaper editor Arthur J. Russell joined the Group after attending a meeting in 1931. He wrote For Sinners Only in 1932, which inspired the writers of God Calling. Among those influenced by the Oxford Group and Frank Buchman, one also finds: Paul Tournier, the Swiss physician and author whose Medicine of the Person became a worldwide success Emil Brunner, the Swiss Protestant (Reformed) theologian Theophil Spoerri, a Swiss writer and academic who was instrumental in setting up the Gotthardbund, a civil society organisation which fought against Nazi propaganada in Switzerland from 1940 to 1945. Gabriel Marcel, French philosopher, playwright and leading Christian existentialist:497 Evaluation and critics Carl Jung on the Oxford Group Carl Jung on the matter of an individual and his involvement in the Oxford Group: "My attitude to these matters is that, as long as a patient is really a member of a church, he ought to be serious. He ought to be really and sincerely a member of that church, and he should not go to a doctor to get his conflicts settled when he believes that he should do it with God. For instance, when a member of the Oxford Group comes to me in order to get treatment, I say, "You are in the Oxford Group; so long as you are there, you settle your affair with the Oxford Group. I can't do it better than Jesus.":272 Published literature critical of the Oxford Group In 1934 Marjorie Harrison, an Episcopal Church member, published a book, Saints Run Mad, that challenged the Group, its leader and their practices. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr criticized Buchman's philosophy and pursuit of the wealthy and powerful. "The idea is that if the man of power can be converted, God will be able to control a larger area of human life through his power than if a little man were converted. This is the logic which has filled the Buchmanites with touching solicitude for the souls of such men as Henry Ford or Harvey Firestone. Confusion with Oxford Movement The Oxford Group is occasionally confused with the Oxford Movement, an effort that began in the 19th century Anglican Church to encourage High Church practice and demonstrate the Church's apostolic heritage. Though both had an association with members and students of the University of Oxford at different times, the Oxford Group and the Oxford Movement were unrelated.
Monday, July 25, 2016
"Star Trek Beyond": Positiver Realismus und der Geist der Utopie Rüdiger Suchsland 22.07.2016 Das Kennedy-Amerika, nicht das von Donald Trump: Sie müssen reden. Die Enterprise-Crew als Weltraum-UNO Durch die unendlichen Weiten des Weltalls reiste das "Raumschiff Enterprise" erstmals vor 50 Jahren: 1966 startete die Fernsehserie, die zunächst mit drei Staffeln und knapp über 70 Folgen nur mäßig lief. Erst in den nächsten Jahrzehnten wuchsen sich die Abenteuer über bislang drei weitere Serienfortsetzungen in zusammen über 600 Staffeln sowie in bislang 12 Kinoabenteuern zum erfolgreichsten Science-Fiction-Universum der Weltgeschichte aus. Sogar ein Reboot, ein Neustart der ursprünglichen Serie fürs Kino, wurde 2009 erfolgreich überstanden. Seitdem begleitet die Crew der ersten Star-Trek-Staffel - Captain Kirk, Spock, Pille, Scottie, Uhura, Cekov und Sulu - in jüngeren Jahren, verkörpert von jungen, sehr gut gecasteten Darstellern auf der Leinwand eine neue Generation von Zuschauern.
Auf dem Weg zum Stadtwerk? Hamburg Energie, die Netze und eine Chance Publiziert am 3. Januar 2015 von Dirk Seifert HEW1Im November meldete das junge kommunale Unternehmen „Hamburg Energie“ den 100.000 Kunden: Rund 250 Millionen Euro Umsatz macht der Ökostromer in 2014 und erwartet mit 1,5 Millionen Euro erstmals einen Gewinn. Neben Hamburg Energie wächst der kommunale Anteil der Hansestadt an der Energieversorgung rasant. Durch den Volksentscheid „Unser Hamburg – Unser Netz“ läuft die Rekommunalisierung der Energienetze. Das Stromnetz ist bereits wieder zu 100 Prozent städtisch, die Fernwärmeversorgung und das Gasnetz folgen. Mit der Netzübernahme steigt auch die kommunale Strom- und Wärmeerzeugung. Hamburg könnte mit diesen neuen Instrumenten zu einem bedeutsamen Player für die Energiewende werden. Als Dach könnte ein neues kommunales Stadtwerk helfen, diese wachsenden Potentiale zu bündeln und zu stärken. Sozial – demokratisch – klimaverträglich: Energiewende Hamburg nach dem Volksentscheid – Kommunale Netze und ein Stadtwerk Ökonomie der Energienetze – Rekommunalisierung lohnt sich: Mehr Investitionen, sichere Arbeitsplätze und wirtschaftliche Gewinne Hamburgs kommunaler Ökostromer legt zu Seit fünf Jahren vertreibt das städtische Unternehmen ausschließlich Ökostrom und Gas. Unter den Kunden ist die Stadt Hamburg, die sich von Hamburg Energie noch bis Ende 2015 mit Ökostrom beliefern lässt (dann muss der Liefervertrag aufgrund gesetzlicher Bestimmungen europaweit neu ausgeschrieben werden). Seit dem 1.1.2015 beliefert Hamburg Energie die Stadt auch mit Gas. Außerdem hat der kommunale Ökostromer zum Jahresbeginn die Strompreise gesenkt...... http://umweltfairaendern.de/2015/01/auf-dem-weg-zum-stadtwerk-hamburg-energie-die-netze-und-eine-chance/ Berlin Ende Januar hat die Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen das lange ruhende Verfahren zur Vergabe der Stromnetzkonzession wieder aufgenommen. Seit wenigen Wochen ist der zweite Verfahrensbrief auch ins Internet gestellt. Doch ein entscheidendes Detail fehlt: Anders als bisher in deutschen Konzessionsverfahren üblich, sind die Vergabekriterien nicht öffentlich zugänglich. Der Finanzsenator Kollatz-Ahnen verstößt damit eklatant gegen das Transparenzgebot, für das er sich bisher ausgesprochen hat. Der Energietisch fordert daher die umgehende Veröffentlichung der Vergabekriterien. Nachdem das Bundeskartellamt letztes Jahr die bisherigen Vergabekriterien im Stromkonzessionsverfahren kritisierte, stoppte die Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen das laufende Verfahren und überarbeitete die Kriterien. Diese sind für die Vergabe der Konzession entscheidend. Die Geheimniskrämerei legt nun einen Verdacht nahe: Wurden die Kriterien extra auf den Wunschpartner Vattenfall zugeschnitten? Die Wenigen, die Einblick in die Unterlagen hatten, scheinen dies zu bestätigen. Der Mitbewerber BürgerEnergie Berlin verkündete in seinem Newsletter, dass die neuen Kriterien Vattenfall auf den Leib geschneidert sind. http://www.berliner-energietisch.net/ Netze Genossenschaft Berlin Wer wir sind Wir sind ein freier, parteiübergreifender Zusammenschluss von Bürgerinnen und Bürgern, die sich für eine zukunftsfähige, nachhaltige und demokratische Energiepolitik in Berlin engagieren. In unserer Genossenschaft hat jedes Mitglied eine Stimme – unabhängig von der Höhe seine Einlage. Wer sich mit uns für ein Stromnetz in Bürgerhand engagieren will, ist uns herzlich willkommen. Mehr über uns erfahren Sie in unserem Video. Über die formalen Statuten der Genossenschaft informiert die Satzung der BürgerEnergie Berlin eG. Werden Sie Mitstreiter! http://www.buerger-energie-berlin.de/ ....Als neuen Mantel der "stuttgartenergie" haben die kommunalen Politiker, durchaus mit breitem Konsens aller Parteien, die Stadtwerke Stuttgart Vertriebsgesellschaft gegründet, ein Gemeinschaftsunternehmen der Stadtwerke Stuttgart und der Elektrizitätswerke Schönau. .... http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/38/38637/1.html
Europäische Genossenschaften bedauern Brexit Die europäischen Genossenschaften bedauern den Austritt Großbritanniens aus der Europäischen Union. „Das Votum der britischen Bevölkerung ist eine große Herausforderung für Europa. Es wird aber nicht die erfolgreiche Zusammenarbeit mit unseren britischen Mitgliedsorganisationen und Genossenschaften in Frage stellen“, sagt Dirk J. Lehnhoff, Präsident des europäischen Dachverbands der Genossenschaften Cooperatives Europe und Vorstandsmitglied des DGRV. Mit Blick auf die gemeinschaftlichen Aktivitäten der europäischen Genossenschaftsorganisationen werde der Ausstieg Großbritanniens aus der Europäischen Union aber seine Spuren hinterlassen: „Vor allem für die gemeinsame Vertretung der genossenschaftlichen Interessen gegenüber der EU-Kommission und dem EU-Parlament wird uns die Stimme der britischen Genossenschaften fehlen“, so Lehnhoff weiter. In Großbritannien hat das Genossenschaftswesen eine lange Tradition. Die Wurzeln der konsumgenossenschaftlichen Bewegung im englischen Rochdale oder die Initiativen des britischen Genossenschaftspioniers Robert Owen sind weltweit eine Inspirationsquelle für die Entwicklung eigener genossenschaftlicher Strukturen. Mit 6.800 Unternehmen, 15 Mio. Mitgliedern und 34.000 Arbeitnehmern sind die britischen Genossenschaften ein bedeutender Wirtschaftsfaktor in der genossenschaftlichen Gruppe Europas. DGRV-Jahresumfrage unter Energiegenossenschaften: Gründungszahlen weiter rückläufig Neugründungen gehen weiter zurück / Im EEG geplante Ausschreibungsregel für Bürgerenergie ungeeignet / Wärmenetze brauchen Anschlussförderung für Biogas Berlin, 6. Juli 2016. Die Zahl der Neugründungen von Energiegenossenschaften ist mit insgesamt 40 in 2015 im Vergleich zum Vorjahr um weitere 25 Prozent zurückgegangen. Diesen deutlichen Rückgang auf bereits niedrigem Niveau zeigt die Jahresumfrage Energiegenossenschaften, die der DGRV – Deutscher Genossenschafts- und Raiffeisenverband heute gemeinsam mit der Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien (AEE) in Berlin vorstellt. „Die Boomjahre sind erst einmal vorbei. Vor allem die wirtschaftlichen Grenzen für neue Photovoltaikprojekte schränken die Aktivitäten der Energiegenossenschaften deutlich ein. Mit der Einführung von Ausschreibungen wird nun eine weitere Hürde für die Bürgerenergie geschaffen“, sagt Dr. Eckhard Ott, Vorstandsvorsitzender des DGRV. Entstanden aus einer Idee Die Erfolgsgeschichte der deutschen Genossenschaften ist untrennbar verbunden mit zwei Personen: Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1818–1888) und Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (1808–1883). Die Idee zur Gründung erster genossenschaftlich geprägter Organisationen wurde buchstäblich aus der Not heraus geboren. Im Verlauf der Industriellen Revolution Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts gerieten viele Bauern und kleine Handwerksbetriebe in finanzielle Notlagen. Diese Entwicklung war eng verknüpft mit den negativen Auswirkungen der Bauernbefreiung und der Einführung der Gewerbefreiheit. Während der Reform entstanden neue Strukturen, die die Besitzverhältnisse zugunsten der kleinen Leute verbessern sollten. In der Realität verschlechterte sich aber die Lage der Bauern spürbar. Sie wurden durch Abfindungszahlungen an ehemalige Gutsherren belastet und waren unerfahren in der eigenverantwortlichen Führung eines Betriebes. Missernten und Hungersnöte in den Jahren 1846/47 verschlimmerten die Situation zusätzlich. Unter der Umstrukturierung litten aber auch die Handwerksbetriebe, da der Zugang zu Bankdienstleistungen fehlte und sie auf private Geldverleiher angewiesen waren. Sie verschuldeten sich immer mehr und verloren oftmals ihre wirtschaftliche Existenz. 1847 rief Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen in Weyerbusch (Westerwald) den ersten Hilfsverein zur Unterstützung der Not leidenden ländlichen Bevölkerung ins Leben. Er gründete schließlich 1864 den "Heddesdorfer Darlehnskassenverein", der heute als erste Genossenschaft im Raiffeisenschen Sinne gilt. Unabhängig von Raiffeisen rief Hermann Schulze in Delitzsch zeitgleich eine Hilfsaktion ins Leben, die den in Not geratenen Handwerkern zu Gute kommen sollte. Nach Auffassung von Schulze-Delitzsch war eine nachhaltige Verbesserung der wirtschaftlichen Bedingungen nur durch den Zusammenschluss einzelner, schwacher Einheiten und den Abbau von Fremdbestimmung zu erreichen. Nach den Grundsätzen der Selbsthilfe, Selbstverwaltung und Selbstverantwortung gründete er 1849 die ersten "Rohstoffassoziationen" für Tischler und Schuhmacher und 1850 den ersten "Vorschussverein" - den Vorläufer der heutigen Volksbanken. "Genossenschaften: Die treibende Kraft für eine nachhaltige Zukunft!" - Internationaler Tag der Genossenschaften am 2. Juli Berlin, 1. Juli 2016. „Genossenschaften: Die treibende Kraft für eine nachhaltige Zukunft!“ – unter diesem Motto wird am morgigen Samstag weltweit der Internationale Tag der Genossenschaften gefeiert. Der Ehrentag steht damit ganz im Zeichen der „2030-Agenda für nachhaltige Entwicklung“ der Vereinten Nationen. „Die Bekämpfung von Fluchtursachen ist eine wichtige Aufgabe der Weltgemeinschaft. Genossenschaften leisten einen wichtigen Beitrag, die Armut in den benachteiligten Ländern der Erde zu bekämpfen“, sagt Dr. Eckhard Ott, Vorstandsvorsitzender des DGRV. 2.700 Genossenschaftsgründer im Jahr 2015 Berlin, 14. März 2016. 124 neue Genossenschaften wurden im Jahr 2015 registriert, 2.700 Personen haben diese kooperativen Unternehmen gegründet. Dies ergab eine deutschlandweite Befragung unter den genossenschaftlichen Prüfungsverbänden des DGRV. „Wir freuen uns über die vielen Gründungsinitiativen. Die genossenschaftliche Rechtsform vereint wiederum mehr Menschen in unternehmerischer Verantwortung“, sagt Dr. Eckhard Ott, Vorstandsvorsitzender des DGRV. Rückblick 2012 Das Internationale Jahr der Genossenschaften 2012 liegt nun in der Vergangenheit. Die Kampagne „Ein Gewinn für alle – Die Genossenschaften“ wurde von den Genossenschaften in Deutschland auf vielfältige Art und Weise aufgegriffen und umgesetzt. Überall in Deutschland haben die Genossenschaften das Internationale Jahr mit zahlreichen Veranstaltungen und Aktivitäten gefeiert. So wurden zum Beispiel bunte Stadtfeste, kreative Wettbewerbe, gemeinschaftliche Wander- oder Fahrradtouren durch die Regionen und festliche Bälle veranstaltet. Erstmals haben sich dabei vielerorts mehrere Genossenschaften einer Region – auch über verschiedene Branchen hinweg – gemeinsam präsentiert und so die Größe und Vielfalt der genossenschaftlichen Familie deutlich gemacht. Besonders hervorzuheben sind auch die Spendenläufe, die viele Genossenschaften zum Internationalen Genossenschaftstag am 7. Juli 2012 in ihren Heimatorten organisiert haben, um soziale Projekte vor Ort zu unterstützen. Mit einer bunten Mischung von Aktionen haben die Veranstalter wieder einmal bewiesen, dass die Genossenschaften „ein Gewinn für alle“ sind. Festzuhalten bleibt: Das Internationale Jahr der Genossenschaften war ein voller Erfolg. Die Genossenschaften in Deutschland haben eindrucksvoll gezeigt, wie wichtig sie für das wirtschaftliche und soziale Leben in Deutschland sind. Dieser Erfolg ist natürlich den Mitgliedern und Freunden der genossenschaftlichen Familie zu verdanken, die mitgeholfen haben, das Internationale Jahr der Genossenschaften 2012 so lebendig und erfolgreich zu gestalten. Auch in Zukunft wir die genossenschaftliche Gruppe in Deutschland weiterhin erfolgreich zusammenarbeiten. Die Kampagne „Ein Gewinn für alle“ wird zu diesem Zweck auch in den nächsten Jahren weitergeführt. Weitere Informationen dazu finden Sie auf www.genossenschaften.de.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
I ENAU: quanto vale o trabalho na agroecologia? Por Najar Tubino, na Carta Maior Rio de Janeiro – A última etapa do Encontro Nacional de Agricultura Urbana dividiu os participantes em vários grupos para visitas de campo, tanto na cidade como na região metropolitana. Estive em Guapimirim, a 70 km da capital carioca, o último município da Baixada Fluminense, com 51 mil habitantes e um quarto da população cadastrada e recebendo dos programas sociais do governo federal. Guapi, como é chamado, fica no pé da Serra dos Órgãos, na zona de amortecimento do Parque Nacional – criado em 1954 – e tem 70% do território em área de preservação permanente. É um lugar lindo, com maciços de pedra cobertos pelo que restou da Mata Atlântica, cachoeiras e rios, que deságuam na Baía de Guanabara. E justamente por isso é cada vez mais atacado pelos especuladores imobiliários, por administradores públicos que não reconhecem o valor das comunidades na zona rural, que produzem alimentos para a metrópole. A Região Metropolitana do Rio de Janeiro com 19 municípios, 12 milhões de habitantes e registra 5.500 agricultores e agricultoras familiares. Somente na cidade do Rio são mais de mil. Depois de muita luta e organização hoje em dia um circuito de 15 feiras orgânicas comercializa a produção livre de agrotóxicos e transgênicos. Guapi tem 81 e uma associação que reúne 15 famílias na localidade do Fojo – a AFOJO. São migrantes na sua maioria do Espírito Santo, que nasceram ao redor dos cafezais, mas nunca tiveram terra própria. Foram saindo desde a década de 1960 e povoando outras regiões do país. Guapimirim era a última estação do trem, para quem se dirigia a Teresópolis. Mesmo depois da construção da BR-116 a linha foi mantida, embora em estado precário. Trabalho de pesquisa em sete regiões Muitos chegaram à região pelo trem, como é o caso da família Benevides, cujos parentes se espalham pelas encostas da localidade do Fojo. A Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia (ANA) desde a realização do III ENA em Juazeiro (BA) vem recolhendo experiências de produção agroecológica em sete regiões do Brasil – no Sudeste, no Semiárido Mineiro, no Nordeste, Centro-Oeste, Norte e Sul. O objetivo é simples: mostrar o valor não somente de mercado dos produtos agroecológicos, alimentos saudáveis, mas também o que a economia neoclássica não contabiliza: o trabalho de homens e mulheres que desenvolvem a produção aliados aos ecossistemas, protegendo as nascentes, as plantas nativas, as aves, pássaros, insetos, micro-organismos do solo e muito mais. Quanto vale tudo isso? É difícil avaliar. Mas é o que os técnicos da ASPTA em conjunto com outros parceiros, por intermédio da ANA, com apoio do BNDES e de programas do PLANAPO estão realizando. Um trecho da explicação do projeto: “- A ASPTA em conjunto com outras entidades parceiras vem desenvolvendo e aperfeiçoando uma metodologia que possibilite avaliar os impactos econômicos e ecológicos dos agrossistemas agroecológicos. Este método descrito como Análise de Agroecossistema se baseia em dar visibilidade às experiências agroecológicas com leitura e interpretação à luz da economia política, econômica ecológica e da economia feminista. O ponto de partida para a elaboração desse referencial de análise econômica foi o reconhecimento da existência da singularidade das estratégias de gestão da agricultura familiar quando comparadas com a lógica do agronegócio”. Estudo mostra o poder da agroecologia O estudo envolveu diretamente na comunidade do Fojo três técnicos especializados: Renata Lúcia Souto, Claudemar Mattos e Fabricio Walter. Foram avaliados os anos de 2013 e 2014. Renata alugou uma casa em Guapi e Fabricio se tornou morador permanente, além de ensinar sociologia em uma escola local – também fez da situação de vulnerabilidade e pobreza da região sua tese de mestrado na UFRJ. O estudo é um trabalho insano de levantamento de dados, por se tratar de trabalhadores e trabalhadoras sem experiência de gestão, de contabilidade ou mesmo de administração. Eles não têm ideia geral do tamanho da produção que conseguem viabilizar, muito menos as relações entre todos os segmentos, suas trocas e a interação com o ambiente. O local é o Sítio Santo Antônio, com cinco hectares onde o casal Nazaípe Bernardo (paraibana) e Carlos Benevides (capixaba) trabalha em regime de parceria – 80% é deles e 20% para o dono da terra. Eles mantêm várias roças de legumes – maxixe, quiabo, jiló-, um galinheiro com 72 aves, uma criação de peixes, centenas de frutíferas e pés de café, além de um viveiro de mudas. Tudo em meio à Mata Atlântica. A comunidade do Fojo já tinha uma área certificada pela ABIO – Associação dos Agricultores Biológicos – através do Serviço de Proteção Garantido (SPG), previsto na regulamentação da produção orgânica. Eles ainda compram ração de fora para as galinhas, embora elas comam vegetais de todo tipo. Mas a essência do projeto é de autonomia, justamente o que a agroecologia tem para mostrar – quanto mais trabalho local, maior o valor agregado na produção e maior autonomia. Produto Interno Bruto do Sítio é de R$33,7 mil Na soma dos itens produzidos o estudo contabilizou 45 entre palmito, hortaliças, plantas medicinais, mudas, frutas, ovos e as galinhas. A comercialização é feita de porta em porta no bairro próximo e desde 2014 na Feira Orgânica de Guapimirim. Também mantém uma unidade de fabricação de caldas caseiras – supermagro, bordalesa e sulfocálcia, insumos utilizados, juntamente com o esterco de galinha, restos de cultivo. O núcleo familiar é composto por oito pessoas, entre elas uma filha com necessidades especiais. Recebem Bolsa Família e o Benefício de Prestação Continuada. O Produto Interno Bruto do sítio Santo Antonio é de R$33.701,64, sendo R$18.521,64 a renda agrícola, R$15.180,00 a não-agrícola – contando a transferência de renda e outras atividades. O que dá uma média de R$3.704,33 por hectare e um valor agregado por ha de R$4.106,33. Na composição do Produto Bruto entraram as vendas, o autoconsumo, trocas e doações e o estoque. Posteriormente a Repartição do Valor Agregado por Esfera foi dividido entre mercantil, autoconsumo; doméstico e de cuidados; participação social e pluriatividade. Também referenciaram o rendimento dos diversos segmentos dentro do sítio, como a agrofloresta, a horta, lavoura-roçado, piscicultura e viveiro de mudas. Está tudo ilustrado em gráficos comparativos. Porém, o importante de tudo isso é o gráfico final totalmente colorido onde entra cada participação dos itens produzidos contando ainda as vendas, autoconsumo, doações e o estoque. E mais o valor por intensidade de cada segmento no uso da terra com seu valor agregado. No final a repartição do valor agregado por esfera de trabalho e por gênero, onde fica evidente o trabalho da Nazaípe exclusivo em cuidar da casa, da filha, além de participar da feira, das reuniões, eventos – eles registraram a participação social como forma de trabalho -, de ajudar na colheita dos produtos para a feira. Quando surge o gráfico dos dias trabalhados a diferença é gritante, mesmo que Carlinhos se ocupe integralmente dos cuidados da roça, do viveiro, das galinhas e etc. Resultado é inestimável É importante ressaltar que o estudo foi discutido em oficinas locais, assim como os resultados. Outro morador, Anísio Benevides, de 62 anos, já proprietário de um lote, também ajudou na formulação dos dados e nas análises posteriores. A verdade é que contabilizada em detalhes aquilo, que parece miudeza, ao final do ano se transforma em algo consistente. Claro, que não se trata de uma renda de classe média da cidade, mas a função do trabalho de pessoas como Nazaípe e Carlinhos, para personalizar o caso, que produzem alimentos livres de venenos e de transgênicos, protegem o ambiente, porque é dali que sai o ganha pão, e comercializam comida saudável para a comunidade não tem preço. Se forem somados 10 mil hectares de agroecossistemas, imaginando um território contínuo, o agronegócio da soja movido a capital e veneno se transforma em algo fictício, mentiroso, antieconômico, sem contar a destruição ambiental e os prejuízos à população local. Enfim, a agricultura camponesa agroecológica resiste bravamente na segundo maior região metropolitana do país e conta com brasileiros idealistas, apaixonados pelo trabalho, extremamente cuidadosos em ensinar aos que precisam, para que trilhem seus próprios caminhos, sem necessitar de políticos ou gestores de fora do território. Uma lição para o Brasil neste momento, onde todo o poder da mídia está voltado, justamente, em promover àqueles que querem destruir este legado. Créditos da foto: Renata Souto
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Just don't hear enough about co-operative businesses. On the one hand it's strange, since the first modern form was founded in the 1840s in the UK by a bunch of workers when labor unions were still outlawed. On the other hand, there is a lot of economic ideology around.... Worker cooperatives drive employment recovery Spain’s worker cooperatives, numbering in excess of 17,000, have seen a ten percentage point lesser drop in employment compared to other business models. Juan Antonio Pedreño, president of COCETA (Confederación Española de Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado or the Spanish Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, in English), said “it shows how the loss of 1.8 million jobs could have been avoided – by all businesses operating like cooperatives. The municipalities with the lowest losses of employment are the ones where the cooperative movement is strong”. 29 June 2015 In 2007 around 24% of businesses were cooperatives. At the close of 2014 this had increased to 32.1%. During the same period the number of cooperative enterprises with more than 250 workers increased from 22% to 31.8%. 80% of worker cooperatives offer indefinite employment and 81% offer full time work. Women represent almost 50% of the workforce, whilst young people (up to the age of 39) account for almost 43%. Worker cooperatives are also more likely to be more inclusive, taking on people with difficulties..... full article at: http://www.cicopa.coop/Worker-cooperatives-drive.html