Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waxing Esoteric on the Environment

Brian McLaren offers a theological case for creation care. As you might guess, it’s embarrassing. It's also an indication that the Dems are asking their flacks to Jesus it up on the environment, so I'm guessing we're going to see another push on cap and trade. Anyway, here's Brian.

What could be more joyful than rediscovering our God-given role as caretakers, stewards, and lovers of creation?

Off the top of my head: raising children, getting married, having sex, driving an Infinity, watching basketball, eating foie gras, singing, dancing, and playing guitar hero.

What could be more sad and tragic than missing that dimension of life — linking the human parts of God’s creation with the rest?

Off the top of my head: cancer, starvation, murder, rape, holocausts, the Detroit Lions, the inexplicable existence of Embers restaurants.

Here are seven first steps that I recommend to all of us who want to re-enter our primal (and deeply fulfilling) role as caretakers of God’s beautiful world.

Which definition of “primal” is McLaren using here? Does he use it to mean primitive? Nothing primitive is deeply fulfilling. Does he use it to mean “most important”? That’s just ridiculous.

1. Develop a theology of creation. Sadly, many of us have a gospel of evacuation and abandonment, leaving behind creation to be destroyed so our souls can be beamed up to heaven as soon as possible.

Vintage McLaren. Take a ludicrously untenable theological position, and attribute it to “many of us”. “Many” could mean 5, or 23.

(2) How sad if we worship God within a construction of human doctrines and within man-made walls and ceilings … and never worship God within a forest of trees or under a canopy of stars or with a choir of singing birds, crickets, and tree frogs!

Are human doctrines (whatever the hell that means) allowed in the forests? What about a copy of Everything Must Change?

3. Learn the threats to creation. They are many, and they are complex, and they are interwoven and mutually reinforcing. And we are complicit in nearly all of them.

In other words, learn that other people (but not you, and certainly not McLaren) are the threat to creation.

4. Adjust your lifestyle to creation.

By traveling around the world in jets, printing lots of books, living in a large suburban house, but also using fluorescent light bulbs and recycling. God prefers meaningful symbolic gestures to real, life changing action.

In the Genesis story, part of Adam and Eve “wanting to be like gods” must surely involve wanting to transcend our God-given role as creatures in an environment.

Nope. It surely involves knowing good and evil. I know this because the Bible says so explicitly. That’s the nice thing about scripture. It is made up of words that address various topics, thereby allowing us to discern answers to spiritual questions. We don’t have to make it up as we go along.

We are as connected to habitats of soil, water, air, grass, and trees as are gazelles and lions, dragonflies and mockingbirds.

The Bible says the opposite. In fact, just about any religion teaches the opposite.

We have been living in a fantasy world for centuries, forgetting that we are woven in a fabric of creation …

Silly us.

Doing so will be a lifelong task. It will involve personal action (changing light bulbs, recycling, composting, driving less and driving wiser, applying new technologies, etc.),

And you thought I was kidding about the light bulb thing.

5. Choose a part of creation in which to specialize.

Light bulbs, for example.

God loves birds … you can join God. God loves flowers and deserts and wetlands and sea turtles … you can join God.

Wait, God loves deserts? I don’t think God loves deserts. That’s why he put snakes and scorpions there.

God knows the potential of wind and hydrogen and solar energy to help us live more wisely — you can join God.

God has a peculiar way of showing this, what with the easy accessibility of tons and tons of oil, which can be mined and refined using elementary technologies.

We can’t all know everything,

And if we did, it wouldn’t matter, because everything must change.

6. Start with your environmental address. A zip code is just so mail can find you. Your real address is a watershed … a place on the planet where you consume, pollute, garden, tend, and care.

Like, dude, the government tries to define you, man, with your addresses and zip codes. That just what the man uses to control you, so they can find you and tell you what to think. Man, !@#$ zip codes!

We all have to care for the whole planet, but we each must care especially for our own ecological neighborhood. Here’s a place to start learning

Ugh. I thought this watershed nonsense was just some stupid emergent idea. Alas, my tax dollars are paying for it. This is why I vote Republican, people.

Ironically, the first thing the EPA asks for in order to find my watershed is my, um, zip code. Let’s see, according to the EPA, my watershed is the “Twin Cities”. That was worth my time.

7. Advocate for creation everywhere.

Not if I want to have the best watershed. Take care of your own damn watershed.

Birds don’t get to vote. Neither do streams or salamanders.

The injustice of it all.

Corporations are given legal status and protection, but most forests aren’t (maybe they should be?).

They are.

If birds and soil and trees and wind are going to be given a voice in life-and-death decisions made by humans, people like you and me are going to have to add-our-voice (advocate) on their behalf.

If the bird chirping outside my window could talk, he would be saying “I want sex! I want sex now! I demand sex! Some other bird have sex with me! Any bird. I need sex! Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex!

That voice will speak in voting, but also in church, and in the office and classroom, and around the dinner table.

Awesome, I hope my church is ready. I am going to get this bird laid.

We can’t just speak with a kind of guilt-inducing duty; we must also speak with love.

Or condescension. Whatever works.

Because we love the spring peepers and spotted salamanders, we must speak up when another shopping mall is going to bury another vernal pool.

Because people prefer spring peepers and spotted salamanders to having a job and a place to buy groceries, so this will be a pretty effective argument.

And these things are not simply a duty, but a true joy.

The title of McLaren's next book should be Joyful Demagoguery.

The threats and urgency of the moment can be truly overwhelming, but the Spirit of creation that hovered over the surface of the waters in Genesis 1 is still alive, stirring hearts to rediscover a truly human way of living in God’s beautiful green world.

McLaren performs a bit of rhetorical jujitsu to square his (competing) liberal positions. I love how the people who ostensibly care the most about God’s creation cannot bring themselves to concede that it is, in fact, a creation.

Also, his article doesn’t say anything, and so is a waste of electricity. How many salamanders have to die before McLaren gives up being a hack?


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