Eugene Cho

caring for the environment

It’s sweltering hot here in Seattle this week.  It’s also hot in many places.  How did Al Gore manipulate the weather to get more support for his cause behind Inconvenient Truth?

When I became a Christian at 18, I never heard anything about the moral dilemma of environmentalism until seminary.  I still wrestle with how to more organically speak of environmentalism and care of God’s creation within the context of a larger framework of ministry.  I’m constantly challenged by individuals at Quest that not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  Individuals that bike regularly to work, go hybrid and biodiesel, compost galore, and even taking steps to utilize solar energy.  Very cool.  I have much to learn.  I’ve always felt like I’ve done my part and even converted my wife who is becoming the recycling Nazi.  She recycles everything…

This leads me to some thoughts about the Live Earth concerts from last weekend.  Anybody watch? I’ve been going through various checklists to see what more I can do to take a step closer to becoming a more responsible steward.  I want to do my part and encourage others to do the same.  Not because I’m a Christian but because I’m human.  This is my home. Created by my God who gave the world unto His creation to enjoy and care for.  But every time I see these kinds of “benefits” led by musicians or Hollywood stars, I just can’t get into it.  Live Aid, World Aid, Band Aid, Green Aid, Live Earth, and on and on.  It’s an incredible concept and event.  But honestly, it sometimes turns me away.  Why?  Because I’m a recovering cynic and can be quasi-judgmental…

I wonder both quietly and now loudly:  Do these folks really care? Do they really love the poor?  Do they really love the oppressed?  Do they really walk the walk?”  Do they really believe?  Really sacrifice?  Really give? 

“Do I care?”

Filed under: culture, justice

18 Responses

  1. J. P. says:

    Jack Johnson had “” on his guitar…

  2. Tracy says:

    I am mad Beyonce didn’t perform. She is one this young pop generation’s best perfomer.

  3. Tracy says:

    O back on subject, I am of the opinion that only a certain percentage really go to charities/foundations for the poor.

  4. David says:

    Your post is asking similar questions that I was asking in this post:


  5. Blake says:

    I believe that Jack Johns cares, but not many of the others. Besides, it’s those ocean waves that got Jack his start in surf video filming.

  6. Matt K says:

    The cynic in me deffinately scoffs at the Live Earth concert. The biggest reason is that Jet Engines are some of the worst offendors when it comes to Greenhouse gasses, but most of these superstars use private jets like we use cars–spewing CO2 into the atmosphere at exponential rates. Walk the walk people.

    Plus, I’ve seen too many episodes of MTV’s Cribs to know that most of these people’s fortunes are going towards extravagant vanities. Preach to me about poverty in Africa? You get paid millions to play make believe in front of the camera or do glorified karaoke!

  7. Russ says:


    I love the earth but I am not believing the whole “global warming” theory that Al and his climatologist buddies have been pushing on us. It is funny when you try to get information on global warming on the internet everything is slanted towards Al Gore and his cronies. I heard one report that humans causes rank in at #8 and the volcanoes are #1. Who knows who is right and who is wrong? I guess the one thing I can hang onto is God is in charge and He gave us a planet that we need to be good stewards of. I do think that as Christians we have a duty to protect nature but not above that of human life, i.e: save the spotted owl instead of banning the wholesale slaughter of millions of innocent babies by the abortionists vacuum because we do not want to upset the delicate balance of a womans right to choose. I bike to work, recycle, use a old fashioned push mower, and try not to feed my 120 dog to much methane producing food but there has to be a point when we say, “Give me a break!”

    In HIS Grip,


  8. Rex Hamilton says:

    I too watched and enjoyed the concerts, but as far as being moved to change the world these things don’t do it for me. I recently went online to find many articles about Al Gore’s multiple homes and his 30k electricity bill…when I see the way people almost deify him and the way he burned electricity and natural gas last year, it makes me see all the more that climate crisis is much more a God thing than a Gore thing. The church worldwide needs to get involved in having a voice in this!

  9. e cho says:

    I think this is why I’m drawn to visible figures that really do demonstrate their commitment – whatever the cause may be.

    I like these events. I like the intent behind them but here’s an idea: I’d love to see each act/musicians/band/actor that show up at these things to donate x amount of money to visibly show their commitment as well.

    Rex #8: Personally, I’m not really bothered by Al Gore’s multiple homes and wealth. Although the 30K electricity bill seems odd to me. In the landscape of the larger picture, maybe his multiple homes are a small fraction. I want to know what he does with the rest of his wealth.

    For example, let me briefly talk about Bill Gates. People raise issues with his 50-60 million dollar home. Is that a lot of money? Absolutely… But it’s not that big of deal for me because of what he does with the rest of his funds. I feel like he’s demonstrating generous and sacrificial stewardship. That’s my two cents…

  10. Ingrid says:

    Hi. I’m a friend of Chad’s from seminary. Here’s a pre-Inconvenient-Truth (at least, I hadn’t seen it yet when I wrote this) synopsis of global warming and suggestions for creation stewardship habits from a Christian with a B.A. in Ecology, currently getting a double master’s in Theology and Non-Profit Management.

    Also, if you’re interested in some theology behind why earth care is an ethical mandate for Christians, check out the Covenant Church’s new resolution co-written by me and several other members of the Young Pietists, a Covenant organization of next-generation leaders passionate about social justice.

    As far as Live Earth and the rest, it’s nice if they get some awareness for issues, but I don’t put any hope in them. Celebrity hype can’t move ethical concerns from sentiment to substance or effect the character formation necessary to make inconvenient, let alone sacrificial, changes in one’s behavior. Unfortunately neither can the (Western) church most of the time because of widespread ignorance, arrogance, and apathy when it comes to the environment and other social justice issues, combined with pathological individualism, self-serving tendencies, and obsession with “eternal life insurance” to the detriment of loving one’s neighbor and doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with one’s God.

    For me, creation care is not a matter of “saving the earth”—Christ has done that already, and we know that things will get worse before the new heavens and new earth and the resurrection of our bodies. Instead, it is a matter of integrity of witness. If we really believe that God created the earth and called it good, and that not even one atom of it is ours to possess but is on loan and the inheritance of our children, what right do we have to trash the place and leave it unlivable for any of God’s creatures, human or otherwise?

    P.S. (This is directed at a comment above and at global warming skeptics in general, not to the author of the original post.) When considering what news and “information” sources to trust, consider what motives someone might have to be lying to you, and never underestimate the human capacity for denial.

  11. Blake says:

    Matt K #6: (being silly) Maybe they’re flying back and forth on super-secret stealth 787s that no one else knows were built since the supposed first one was only just assembled on Sunday? Those celebrities have some pretty gnarly connections, I wouldn’t put it past them. If that were the case then they’d be burning only half as much gas per passenger (assuming they can fill a plane with their groupies) as my 4Runner. 😉 😉

    I don’t know about you, but I for one, welcome our new horrendously-non-eco-friendly celebrity overlords.

  12. Warren says:

    I think it’s hard, but you can see who really cares… like it’s easy to see that U2 cares. But for the people who play the music but don’t speak out against injustice and promote awareness… just because they are playing doesn’t mean that much. They get exposure, they get to play a huge stage and perhaps feed an ego, they get to be a part of a big trendy thing… Jesus says that we will get our reward when we just try to appear holy on the outside.

  13. Shaula says:

    Well, the concert achieved its goal. It raised awareness and got people to start talking about the environment. A good show too. 🙂

  14. e cho says:

    shaula: that’s certainly true. it did raise awareness and here we are talking about the environment.

  15. RVeerman says:

    None of us are perfect, but I think it’s good that people make an effort from where they’re at. I’m glad that people of influencial positions are making an effort to raise awareness. Sometimes, that’s the only way some people even consider certain issues.

    We can only do our best, I mean an honest best with self-integrity. Plenty of issues and movements are out there to care about. I think it’s okay for some people to focus on certain areas of interest. We’re all part of a body; some of us are called to focus more on one area. It’s alright.

    Personally, my family tries to eat organic and locally grown produce. We also drive a Hybrid. My kids also understand why, and they understand the effects of processed food in our body. Still, for the most part, they are still given the choice to eat what they choose.

    Food and environment effect the whole person. I think as Christians we cannot ignore these aspects when addressing one another. Remember lead paint in old buildings? And how this effected the poorest urban population in NY. Officials knowingly ignored this fact, until a courageous writer relentlessly wrote about it in the papers.

    Environmental issues may not seem justice related, but I deeply believe that it is. Human depravity does not only touch upon our spirit, but also our mind and body. The body, mind and spirit are so intertwined.

  16. Dennis says:

    Honestly, I’m wondering why people just didn’t turn off their TV’s to join the cause?!?

    A more grassroots idea would be to dedicate one day to a) no or minimal driving, and b) no electricity post 6pm except candle usage.

  17. kd nyquist says:

    Although I didn’t watch the Live Earth deal, it sounded rather belated to me. Really – is there still a significant number of people who haven’t heard of global warming by now? Even Murdoch of News Corp has decreed that his networks shift their POV as if warming is a threat, not a perhaps-it-is-or-isn’t issue. What is needed now to make a difference is not a one-time surge in volume but a persistent, enduring appeal to rhetoric and logic.

    Speaking of the social justice/moral dilemma of environmental issues: the Bible, especially Paul if my armchair-theology is correct, sees death as new life. That we are seeds not yet sprouted into our spiritual body, that we are children yet unborn. Imagine hearing about a healthy fetus developing in an unhealthy womb – toxins, disease, structural damage, you name it. Would you fear for that fetus, months or weeks away from infancy but finishing development in subpar conditions? That’s how I feel for our environment (the word comes from the french environ, which is literally surroundings). I consider the earth’s health to be a direct factor in the welfare of humanity, however it is the not the former but the latter which is my chief concern.

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One Day’s Wages

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As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory) May our hearts break for injustice and exploitation - whether abroad or in our own backyard. Spending a few days for @onedayswages in Thailand. Along with one of our board members, I'm traveling with a group of 10 others to learn, listen and visit a few NGOs including one of our partners, @thefreedomstory. Couple days ago, we spent an evening walking through Soi Cowboy. On a given night, about 10,000 people are in the ring of prostitution in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Patpong. Much of this is driven by the consumer demand. Approximately 70% of male tourists go to Thailand for the sex industry.

Human trafficking is complex. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or selling you something. 
To reduce it to simple terms, or simple problems, or simple solutions…cause harmful consequences. While we can all agree that it is sinful, egregious, evil, and wrong…there are many nuances and complexities. It would serve all of us to grow deep in the awareness not just of the larger issue but the nuances and complexities.

When people speak of human trafficking, they tend to be ‘attracted’ to the issue of sexual exploitation. Dare I say it, human trafficking has become trendy as a justice issue.

Clearly, it’s evil and egregious. But to reduce the entire issue of human trafficking into one form is not helpful. Because the mission is to fight the entire injustice of slavery. And if that’s the commitment, we have to not only combat sexual exploitation but engage in issues of poverty, forced labor, commercial exploitation in tourism, land rights and power abuses, organized crime networks, cultural and economic realities, etc.

Oh, it's so complex but we have to be engaged whether in Thailand or in our own backyards. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God... More thoughts to come.

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