Monday, January 31, 2005

God of the Environment too...

Let me start off by thanking those of you who did pray for Princess T last week. She managed to get over her strep quite quickly, and without infecting more folks. We appreciate the prayers.

Much has happened since last I posted. And yes, I do need to get a bit more consistent in posting mid-/late-week. Random thought to start the week, then a commentary.

Note: The Iraqis were finally able to vote, and the turnout was substantial. Will this mean we hear less whining from the left about our failures in Iraq? At least for a week?

Commentary (if you think I'm too sensitive on this, email me - I may have a blind spot here): Bill Moyers wrote a column that appeared in the Strib this past Sunday. Sigh. I don't know where to start. My wife is an ecologist. She prefers to avoid the stigma of associating with environmentalists, although she does sympathize with a few of their positions. I consider myself earth-friendly, although I'm not going to stop eating beef or wearing shoes containing leather. In short, we take our God-given responsibility to care for the earth rather seriously. I believe we are far from alone.

However, Moyers seems to ignore those of us who actually think that there is nothing we can do to hasten the end times in order to talk about the subset of Christians who believe we should trash the place. By implication, our current President and his administration belong to this latter group. Ugh.

The truth of the matter is, that yes, there are a few Christians who are under the impression we can actually speed up the rapture and bring about Christ's return sooner than currently planned. Then there are the rest (most) of us who realize the time was set by God before the world was even created, and nothing we do can change that date. In the meantime, we have responsibilities to live the Kingdom of God in the here and now. This means seeking peace, as well as treating the environment well. It wouldn't have hurt Moyers to focus on that, rather than (falsely, IMO) imply our Commander in Chief thinks we should trash the place so his favorite philosopher can drop by for a visit.

Moyers' tenuous connection with logic is exemplified in the transition from page 1 of the article to page 2. He asserts, first of all, that "millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse" (emphasis mine.) They may believe this. "They" also may not. But that wouldn't make the article very, well, interesting. So, we are led to believe the majority of the Religious Right (a rather vague and ambiguous label) wants to actively pollute our planet. Okay...

Moyers then flips to page 2, where he says, "As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election -- 231 legislators in total and more since the election -- are backed by the religious right." Um, we've gone from millions of Christians to the entire religious right. And, these legislators must believe as the religious right does in regards to the environment (even though I think it more than a stretch to think this is standard belief within the mainstream "religious righties") too. Never mind what the majority of these legislators would say or do. They must, by association with the wackos on the right, think we need to damage the earth. Actively. To bring about the Second Coming.

Listen, just because someone believes that Jesus is coming again doesn't mean that (a) he or she believes in the rapture, (b) that he or she believes we should try and bring about the rapture on our own, (c) that he or she believes we should actively harm others or the earth, or try to bring about political situations that would "set up" the rapture, or (d) that he or she believes we should force our views on the environment on others. Fact is, most of us evangelicals are quite content to do our part to keep the earth healthy as a matter of stewardship. Few of us want to pollute to try and get Jesus to pick up the pace. Fear mongering of this sort is just baiting the liberals and preaching to the choir of anti-Christian stereotypes.

Our role as stewards of creation is not to take higher priority than our role as lovers of mankind, however. The priority of the Christian is to preach the gospel (using words when necessary.) Loving and serving the citizens of the world into the Kingdom of God is absolutely our first duty. No idols of environmentalism can take priority over that. But while we are striving to reduce the number of sinners destined to spend an eternity apart from our creator, we can - and should - act wisely in matters of the environment. That should have been Moyers' message.

(Editor's Note: Evangelical Outpost has some good thoughts on this posted here.

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