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Mining Justice: Lent

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For more information on the Mining Justice campaign visit

calendar  LENTEN CALENDAR: Reflection, Action, Prayer 


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A friend of mine in Zimbabwe was recently arrested and put in jail.  His crime?  Talking about peace and reconciliation in the context of Zimbabwean mining practices.  MCC Canada has been running a Mining Justice campaign for the past two years.  Canada is a country with enormous connections to the world of resource extraction.  During this Lenten season we want to focus some of our thoughts and spiritual energy on how mining justice issues impact us and how we impact them.  Do you use a cell phone?  This is a mining justice issue.  Are you considering an engagement ring?  Another mining justice issue.  Do you drink fresh clean water?  Many people in our world do not, because of mining justice issues. This Lenten season you are invited to join this journey of reflection and learning, seeking ways to respond as individuals, as families and households, as churches, as communities.  What might we fast from so that we might gain more awareness of the numerous places our lives intersect with products and resources that fuel the injustices resulting from resource extraction? What practices might we adopt that contribute to more health for the earth, more justice for impacted peoples (often the indigenous) and a more balanced life of integrity for ourselves?

The six weeks of Lent provide us with an opportunity to reflect upon our lifestyle patterns, to pray more deeply, to experience sorrow for what we've done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need. Too often, however, this focus on ourselves fails to move us beyond our own individual, comfortable worlds - it becomes little more than an exercise in self-improvement. We give up sweets in the hope of fewer pounds, we to give to charity or live more "green" to alleviate a measure of guilt, and so on. Even if the things we choose to fast from or add to our daily lives seem noble on the surface, we feel prideful and self-righteous about our relative success in becoming a “better person”. The uncomfortable truth is that sometimes even our well-intentioned desires to make a difference are self-fulfilling.

So where does that leave us? Certainly not without hope, for our efforts are not necessarily in vain. In fact, our personal, individual choices CAN make a difference in the lives of others, but it’s important we step back and take a long view of the journey ahead of us. There is no shortage of issues or causes to add to the list - there are always more items and issues that demand our attention and concern. But this is why we find hope and peace in the calling to find our source, our purpose, our vocation, in God. Nurturing our spirits with prayer, fasting and discipline, we stay close to God’s heart. We live in hope knowing our efforts can be used by God in a new creation. It is a journey, a process. We may not see our final destination - it is a practice of faith. You are welcome to use these Lenten materials as tools to aid your reflection and prayer, increase your mindful awareness, and nurture meaningful relationships in your life. You are invited to join this journey, and learn more about Mining Justice along the way. Our prayer is that you would experience

  • Gather or look at all your plastic articles. 
  • Try going without hot water for the day (or week!). 
  • Turn down the heat! Adjust your thermostat one or two degrees cooler, and put on an extra sweater.
  • Take the bus, carpool, walk, or cycle. 
  • Something to think about:
Relatively cheap oil has meant fast, easy and independent transportation for many of us.  In a word, it is convenient.  There are hidden costs to this convenience, however.   We may feel entitled to this kind of transportation.  We may have distorted views as to how much essentials like food should or shouldn't cost. It often means we are alienated from neighbours and others because we need them for less.  How can we cultivate greater bonds of caring and friendship and potentially consuming less oil?


  • Consider any upcoming vacation or travel plans - Can you travel by train or bus? Can you stay closer to home? Calculate your CO2 emissions (keeping in mind carbon dioxide is only one of the pollutant gasses released when we burn fossil fuels).
           CO2 pounds per passenger per mile[1]:
           Bike or Walk                                                        0.00
           Mass transit (¾ full)                                             0.26
           Carpool (3 people, 21.5 mpg)                           0.37
           Intercity train (U.S. average occupancy)           0.45
           Economy car (solo driver, 40 mpg)                   0.59
           Mass transit (¼ full)                                             0.75
           Jet (U.S. average occupancy)                           0.97
           Average car (solo driver, 21.5 mpg)                 1.10
           Sport utility vehicle (solo driver, 15 mpg)          1.57       
  • Consider the past week: What does our need/addiction to gas and oil mean for the earth and its inhabitants? How are we practicing good stewardship of the gifts we have been given?
For further Reading & Reflection:
Ÿ Prayers:
God, you are our Sustainer and Redeemer. Forgive us when our dependence and addiction to oil and gas fuels further abuse of your creation. Give us strength to reform our perspectives of needs and wants, so that, with your grace, our lifestyles might be transformed to truly reflect your love for all creation. May we live more mindfully, so that all might live more abundantly.
Dear Lord, You too walked on this Earth.
We thank you for taking on flesh like ours.
But we struggle with the reality of our walk.
Our North American footprint is large and heavy.
We know there is a connection with our way of living
and the oppression of other people in the world.
We don’t want this to be so. Our lives are filled with many good things. 
Parting with them is hard, for they give us comfort and security.
Forgive us for having our securities so rooted in things rather than in your love.
We seek repentance. We desire change.
Grant us wisdom to live in your joy by living with less.
May we be participants with you in restoration.


Coltan is an element used in all portable communications devices such as ipods, cell phones, blackberries and laptops.  It is known as a "conflict mineral" because it's extraction is connected with war, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Make a personal commitment to be coltan-free regularly throughout the week (e.g. no laptops, cellphones, MP3s from 7-10 pm each evening)
  • Watch the youtube video "The story of stuff/electronics"
  • Replace the time you would have normally spent “virtually connecting” with real encounters or no-tech projects
  • Trace your cellphone, laptop, or MP3’s coltan back as far as possible (suggestion: start with a call to the manufacturer)
  • Quote for reflection:  

"So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute." ~Wendell Berry

  • Consider repairing or upgrading existing cellphones or laptops whenever possible. If not possible, look into recycling options.
For further Reading & Reflection:

  • Clean, convenient drinking water is very easy to take for granted. When you turn on the faucet, offer a prayer for those who do not have access to clean water. 
  • Try using only water carried in from an outside tap for the day, or buy water. How did this limit/change your use? How do we take our unlimited access to water for granted? How would we respond if our tap water became unsafe to drink or use?
  • Do you bathe?  Great!  Could you do it using a bit less water?  While you're at it, turn down the temperature on the hot water heater.
  • Several Canadian provinces have communities without safe drinking water sources or sanitation.  Tell your elected representatives that this needs to change!
  • Canadian mining companies are responsible for polluting water sources in Guatemala.  People are sick because of this.  This is lamentable!
  • Read Psalm 65:9-13
  • Prayer:
Oh God, we thank you for being the source of life.
Repeatedly through your Word and through your creation,
You have shown us the importance of food and water.
Both of these are gracious gifts. We give you thanks.
You ask us to share food and water with all - even our enemies.
We confess that our sharing is meager in comparison with our abundance.
Teach us to be good stewards of both the gift of food and the gift of water.
We pray for wisdom to know how we can be better partners in sharing these gifts
with all our neighbours near and far. We desire a greater equity. 
May you be glorified as we care for these gifts. Amen.[3]
For further Reading & Reflection
  • Look at a map of your province or country. How much of it is surface water? In what ways to you use or enjoy this resource?
  • Get a copy of MCC’s cookbook Simply in Season.
  • With others, discuss the advantages and/or disadvantages of a more localized, sustainable agricultural food system.
  • Visit:



  • Tape down your light switches, unplug your appliances! Try to reduce (or eliminate completely) any use of electricity today (or for a period of time you choose to designate). 
  • Unplug some of your appliances.  When you find they don't work reflect on where the electricity comes from:  Dams? Nuclear Power?  Coal?  Are the sources clean and renewable?
  • Write a letter to your MP or Electricity provider! Invite their response to concerns about Northern Hydro development, and urge them to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of the northern hydro system.
  • Article: Hydro - At Whose Expense?
  • Read the one-page info-sheet: Healing Hydro Relationships
  • Quote for reflection:

"The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth...We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." ~Chief Seattle

For Further Reading & Reflection:

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  • If you wear jewellery (e.g. wedding bands, earrings, etc), go unadorned for the week. Collect all gold, silver, precious gems & stones and place them somewhere you will see them.
  • Watch the videos Goldmine and La Mina
  • Research mining companies in Manitoba, or your province or country - Who are they? Where do they mine? What are their mining practices?
  • If you have investments (RRSPs, CPP, etc) are any of them in (or connected to) mining or Resource extraction? Article: RRSP Season: Investing for the Common Good
  • Read the case studies on San Marcos, Guatemala and San Andres, Honduras
  • Read Matthew 6:19-21: What are your treasures? To what do you assign value? What is the real cost of our earthly treasures?
For further Reading & Reflection:


  • Look at your consumer goods.  They all come from natural resources.  How can our extraction of these resources and our use of them be more just?
  • Dialogue with people holding differing perspectives. Look for common ground and the common good.
  • Advocate for better legislation, encourage the Canadian government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, invest to build the common good, affirm mining companies that operate in just and community-friendly ways.
  • Pray: The Lord’s Prayer
  • Fast: Choose one or two items from the past few weeks that held meaning for you or your community. 
  • Confess: Pray for forgiveness for the things we have done, continue to do, or have failed to do.
  • Celebrate!! God forgives us, works through us, and gives us Life.

[2] Luke Gascho, Creation Care: Keepers of the Earth (MMA, Goshen, Ind., 2008), 99.
[3] Luke Gascho, Creation Care: Keepers of the Earth (MMA, Goshen, Ind., 2008), 111.