Tag Archives: environmentalism

Environmentalism and My Soul

In his April 18 column in the New York Times, “It’s 2009, Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?”, Bono talked about Easter and where our values are in these difficult economic times. This section seemed poignant to me on Earth Day:

The preacher said, “What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Hearing this, every one of the pilgrims gathered in the room asked, “Is it me, Lord?” In America, in Europe, people are asking, “Is it us?”

Well, yes. It is us.

Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates … the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust.

The last section hints at what I think is the most compelling reason for environmentalism. It’s not necessarily for the environment. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are compelling reasons for valuing nature, preserving species, hugging the trees and all that. But what I think is more compelling is the human element.

If all of humanity were to live like we do in America this planet would collapse. With our air conditioning and cars and houses (that seem to grow exponentially) we just consume too much. All six billion people on this planet can’t have that.

Which begs the question, why should we?

Continue reading Environmentalism and My Soul

Christian Environmentalism

Last night I mentioned a new ad campaign attempting to link religion and environmentalism, What Would Jesus Drive? It’s a slick idea, and about time. In my experience the church has been pretty anti-environment. Christians often mistrust tree-huggers as whacked out new-agers who care more about plants and animals than people.

But those fundamentalist ideas are dying. A casual poll of my youth group shows that pollution and environmental problems are seen as the biggest issues in the world today. The next generation cares about the planet, and it’s about time we returned to Biblical values. Psalm 104 reads like any nature writing from the 20th century: “You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work,” (Psalm 104: 10-13, NRSV).

Environmentalism is also getting another boost, from nationalism as well as from simple human compassion. I’m eager to see if in the next 50 years or so we’re forced into caring about the environment or if it’s more of a gradual shift that comes about because people want it to. It’s a lot harder to say you love your grandchildren and have gone the route of the first option.

What Would Jesus Drive?

Why are people so dumb? It’s a question I have to ask myself a lot. Almost as much as another question I ask a lot, why are Christians so dumb? Some Christians get so worked up over the evil in the world. They see bad things happening and they go through the roof. They want this movie canceled, that commentator fired, this book burned–when all those things are really just mirrors reflecting the evil in society. That’s not a justification, it’s a simple fact. Rather than run around trying to break mirrors, why don’t we do something about the reality?

It seems to me that’s what Jesus did. He didn’t go for the smoke and mirrors of pop culture, entertainment, or politics. He didn’t go for the cover of Time magazine or a spot on prime time. He didn’t try to get elected to a political office. He just went to where he was needed the most–the people.

He didn’t picket, riot or complain. He didn’t wring his hands, join a commune, or pull out of public school. He didn’t write a letter to the editor or have a discussion over coffee or write a book about how things should be done. He just did what should be done.

The world is sinful. We know. So are you. Knowing how bad we are isn’t the solution. And telling someone that Jesus is the solution doesn’t cut it. It’s what writing teachers always say: show, don’t tell. You have the solution, just live it. Stop your pissing and moaning, because that’s not the message you’re preaching.

So I’m pondering about the stupidity of Christians, and just when I think I’m done, I decide to go off on another tangent and check out the What Would Jesus Drive campaign. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a pretty interesting approach to promoting efficient vehicles. It’s something the church should be promoting. It’s obviously not as important as spreading the Gospel, but it’s better than picketing homosexuals. Lots better.

So anyway, I went to check out the What Would Jesus Drive site, and I typed in whatwouldjesusdrive.com instead. It’s a rather whacked site, but the guy does make one point that I thought was priceless: “So remember, when you’re driving around in your SUV… I don’t care if you have a Jesus-fish on it… [you’ll] still be flipping each other off…” Which really sums up my point nicely. It doesn’t matter what pseudo-Jesus bandwagon you’re jumping on, it’s a wash if you’re just like a Pharisee. The guy may have some strange pictures on his website, but he makes a good point.

And now, thanks to the whatwouldjesusdrive.com guy, I have seen the most sacrilegious website ever: jesusdressup.com. And you thought jesusoftheweek.com was bad.