I live on the edge of the Allegheny River just north of Pittsburgh. As the river flows by, its appearance is constantly changing. One moment the water is dark and gray. Then a ray of sun breaks through the clouds above and sets each ripple afire with dancing light. The mood shifts, the colors change, the water levels rise and fall, and the seasons pass.
My favorite season is winter, especially when it turns cold enough for ice to form along the riverbank. When I see ice forming this far south, I know that even more ice is forming upstream. That means that in few days, I will see big slabs of ice floating by, sometimes colliding with the island just offshore, sometimes jamming together. If it stays really cold for a week or so, the blocks of ice freeze solid across the river. Then snow falls on the ice and everything goes white.
Last winter I noticed something new. Ice started to form just as the river level fell a few inches. This left little ice formations trapped in mid-air, suspended above the water on the branches and roots along the riverbank. Out came the sun, and instantly the hanging ice formations that clung to the bare roots and branches were turned into pure dazzling light. I grabbed my camera.
Shooting my ice pictures was easy. That was definitely not the case for the producers of the award-winning documentary, Chasing Ice. In their desire to give us a way to visualize one consequence of climate change, the film crew literally risked their lives to capture stunning images of ice. Ice forming, melting, shimmering in pure blueness, falling into the sea, bouncing on the waves…ice like we’ve never seen it before.
Chasing Ice is being given a special screening at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Fri., Oct. 24, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. The Rev. Paul Lubold of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA will lead a discussion on theology and the environment following the film. Find out more!
For its sheer beauty, this is a film not to be missed. But behind the beautiful pictures is a troubling message. The familiar changes of weather that I see along the Allegheny River are giving way to a more profound and dramatic change, one that we cannot yet fully understand or comprehend. Sure, scientists are debating the details of climate change. They wouldn’t be real scientists if they didn’t question everything. But they also agree that the changes are real, that they will continue, that we human beings contribute to making them happen, and that we can still act to soften somewhat the impact of the changes that lie ahead.
I am really pleased that Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is showing this film and even more pleased that the film is followed by conversation. I am looking forward to being part of the discussion. But more than that, I am looking for ways to turn discussion into action. Come and share your ideas.
The Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics and teaches courses in the MDiv program including systematic theology, Christianity and evolution, and the Holy Spirit. He’s the author of numerous books including Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Advancement.