— Lent 4.5 is a seven-week faith formation program in Christian Simplicity.

Protecting God’s Creation & Embracing Gospel Justice

Through a measuring tool called Global Footprint, we are able to assess the impact of various lifestyles upon the Earth. It is a complex process, but a simple formula. At present, there are more than 6.5 billion people on the planet. If we were to divide the Earth equally among all of us, 4.5 acres would be available to each person. 4.5 acres is what we are each entitled to use. 4.5 acres is a fair share. 

From that 4.5 acres each of us would have to find the wherewithal to cultivate our food, the space and materials to construct our home, the energy to heat and cool it, the water for our lawn and toilets, a place to dispose of our wastes, the timber or plastic to put together our furniture, the fibers to produce our clothes, the metals to manufacture our appliances and cars, the petroleum for our transportation, and anything needed to make our gadgets and “stuff.” 4.5 acres would be each person’s fair-share.

The Global Footprint accounting tool enables us to measure how much of the planet’s productive land and sea is required to support the average lifestyle of any country.  We can use it to calculate how many acres it takes to support the lifestyle of an individual, an industry or a country. According to 2009 data, the amount of acreage it takes to support the average lifestyle varies greatly from country to country.

  • Tanzania           2.6 acres
  • Iraq             3.3 acres          
  • Saudi Arabia     8.6 acres
  • India             1.9 acres
  • Japan            10.2 acres
  • France             11.4 acres
  • Mexico             8.0 acres
  • Canada           14.2 acres
  • United States     22.3 acres

Regardless of our personal habits of consumption, anyone who lives in North America benefits from the infrastructures, food choices, travel options, medical advantages, and conveniences of a standard of living that demands a lot more than 4.5 acres. However, if 4.5 acres is our fair share of the planet’s resources, that means others must do with less so we can maintain our level of affluence.

For a long time, many people thought that a just world would be achieved by lifting others up to our standard of living. We now know that is impossible, given the spatial restrictions and limited resources of the Earth. Estimates suggest that it would take four or five planets to accomplish that elevation in lifestyles. But we only have one.

Over the last 50 years, humans have been consuming God’s creation faster and more extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history. According to a 2010 United Nations report (Global Biodiversity Outlook 2, 2010) the natural systems of the Earth are under severe stress caused by overconsumption, and they are being degraded due to careless abuse. We have soil erosion with 30% of the world’s arable land being lost in the last 40 years. The forests are being cut at an increasing rate. The waters of our rivers, streams and oceans are turning toxic because of harmful industrial chemicals. The number of large fish in the oceans has declined by two-thirds in the last 50 years due to intensive fishing. The purity of our air is becoming polluted with dangerous emissions. As the toxic burden accumulates in people’s bodies, we are beginning to realize that humans cannot be healthy if they live on a sick planet.

We have huge global problems. We Christians in affluent countries have a faith problem. Anyone who follows in the footsteps of Jesus Christ cannot remain distant or indifferent to the consumption habits of our country. How can we share our planet with 6.5 billion people in a way that enables all of us to live with dignity? How can we live in a way that protects God’s creation? These concerns are the heart of Lent 4.5. Our observance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent can become a direct response to global poverty and help restore the integrity of God’s creation.

 

Our Ministry

Lent 4.5 is a seven-week faith formation program which inspires and informs Christian communities on how to use the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to protect God’s creation, embrace Gospel justice and nurture spiritual fulfillment. It offers practical opportunities for people of faith to apply the values of Christian Simplicity to their everyday lives.


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