R-val·ue:    noun

The capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.


R-Value is the capacity to resist. It’s been an astounding week where R-Value is concerned. We began Sunday afternoon celebrating the resistance capacity of 13-inch insulated walls at our Passive-House-In-Progress Party. Hours later, early Monday, we celebrated a different kind of R-Value. We heard the announcement that TransCanada Corporation was suspending it’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoiced in the capacity of people to join together across this country in resistance to the Oil Regime. Finally, now, at week’s end, we revel in President Obama’s announcement that the Administration will not approve the building of Keystone XL. Wow! Hurray for the capacity to resist. Resistance makes all the difference.

On Sunday, inside the shell of our new home, we had great conversation about our insulation future. We will live with R-60 under our feet, R-70 over our heads and R-40 inside our walls. We will be surrounded in pink: rigid board, dense-pack and blown-in pinkness above, below and beside. And outside the wall an extra 3 inches of Roxul, an amazing product made of fibers spun of volcanic rock, adding another R-14, for a total R-54 beside us.

Since about the time of the OPEC embargo in the early 1970’s, we have been on an R-Quest. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! became the mantra of those who seek a waste-free existence, while R-Value entered mainstream talk for prophets of a Net-Zero energy world. As our 3R journey began, it became clear a 4th R was needed: R for Refusal. We could reduce-reuse-recycle till the cows come home, but if we don’t cut back on the waste we produce in the first place, we will have little capacity to really change the way we live on this wondrous Planet. We will do little to redeem our culture unless we learn some Refusal Skills! Of course, when we start talking about Refusal we have entered the moral realm.

Just hours after the wall samples were put away and left-over cider donuts went to the chickens, we heard the Good News that TransCanada—the company that was so sure it would be building the Keystone XL Pipeline that it mowed the 1700-mile route and stockpiled the necessary pipe across the Midwest—announced it would suspend its application!

Bill McKibben, retired United Methodist Sunday School Superintendent from a small church in Vermont, journalist and visionary leader of 350.org sent this message around:

This is—make no mistake—a massive victory for people power. You emailed, you phoned, you marched, and in record numbers you went to jail. That’s what it took to persuade the arrogant oil industry they simply couldn’t prevail in their plan to pump the world’s filthiest oil across the heart of the continent.

A massive victory of people power, indeed. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle mean nothing without Refuse. A Net Zero home doesn’t mean much without net zero communities. And these together pail in their impact without Resistance. R-Value is the capacity to resist.

Make no mistake. The President of the United States would not have been at the podium last Friday morning announcing against Keystone XL had it not been for the multitude of Resistors dragging him, kicking, screaming and spewing carbon emissions to this moment of moral reckoning…if not for millions of us emailing, phoning, marching, going to jail and being trained to non-violently resist.

For those of us who are people of the Jesus Way, resistance is our story, resistance is in our moral DNA. Resistance is the lifeblood of those who have lived and died in our prophetic tradition, from Isaiah to Jesus, from Rosa Parks to Dorothy Day to Bill McKibben. Without resistance there is no justice, without justice no sustainability, without sustainability no love, without love there is no hope for us. Resistance surrounds us like R-100 walls on all sides and, paradoxically, doesn’t insulate us from the world but opens us to it. This is the Godly building we wish to build, the society we want and a new set of powers and principalities open to neighbors in all Creation.

I want to close this morning in gratitude. Some of my favorite human beings were with us for the house party on Sunday. They are also our favorite Resistors. They are friends of great heart and superior conscience. Megan Kemple, while she directs (in Eugene) one of the best Farm To School projects in the nation, also, with 350Eugene, leads the effort to get Cap and Trade legislation passed in the Oregon Legislature. Patty Hine and Debby McGee have taught a multitude of us, the skills of non-violent non-cooperation. They along with Donna Haines, Penny Palmer and Jan Becker are leading First United Methodist Church of Eugene, Oregon and the Interfaith Earthkeepers there, to be out front in this radical movement for Climate Justice.

I thank them. All of them. They are everywhere. We are everywhere. We Hike the Pipe! to resist the building of a LNG line across SW Oregon and a shipping terminal threatening life as we know it in Jordan Cove. We fill buses to rally on the steps of the State Capitol and show up at County Commission hearings and town meetings from to Bandon to Astoria, Vancouver to Heppner. We have marched in Peoples Marches from Lane County to the Borough of Brooklyn and we will march on and be arrested if need be in solidarity with those who convene in Paris in a few weeks. We will keep up the resistance till the whole world sees the coming of the Kingdom of God, which means an order of peace, justice and the integrity of Creation, which means Shalom, which means every one beneath their own vine and fig tree with none to terrify them, which means a Net Zero Millenium, which means Resurrection on a global scale.

Yes friends, R-Value is our capacity for resistance. It is our capacity for Refusal. And ultimately our capacity for Resurrection. May R-60 floors be a platform for taking R-60 stands. May R-54 walls provide us a home from which to take R-54 actions. May R-70 rooftops be the places from where we shout to the world, “No more. The time for greed is past. Love has permeated creation, protecting us from the darkness and cold. Good morning.”

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