[Promoted from the diaries by Susanhbu]

The earth will be kindling for end-time Christians; the earth will be destroyed to satisfy big corporations’ greed. What the hell can we tree-hugging, earth-loving progressives do about it?

Bill Moyers wrote a brilliant piece in the New York Review of Books, in which he discussed the Bush environmental policy, and the impact that this administration’s affiliation with end-time Christians is having on the roll-back of protections of the earth. Moyers’ basic thesis is that for Christians who believe the Rapture is imminent, there is no need to take care of the earth. After all, not only did God, in Genesis, give man dominion over the earth, the end times are so close that there is no need to be accountable to future generations.
As Moyers says, his argument sounds paranoid, but the evidence he presents is quite sound. Combine end-time Christians with rapacious corporations, and Mother Earth is not in for easy times:

That will mean one thing to Dick Cheney and another to Tim LaHaye, but it will confirm their fraternity in a regime whose chief characteristics are ideological disdain for evidence and theological distrust of science. Many of the constituencies who make up this alliance don’t see eye to eye on many things, but for President Bush’s master plan for rolling back environmental protections they are united. A powerful current connects the administration’s multinational corporate cronies who regard the environment as ripe for the picking and a hard-core constituency of fundamentalists who regard the environment as fuel for the fire that is coming. Once again, populist religion winds up serving the interests of economic elites.

The corporate, political, and religious right’s hammerlock on environmental policy extends to the US Congress. Nearly half of its members before the election–231 legislators in all (more since the election)–are backed by the religious right, which includes several powerful fundamentalist leaders like LaHaye. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the most influential Christian Right advocacy groups. Not one includes the environment as one of their celebrated “moral values.”

I went looking for information about Christian environmentalism. I know Christians who consider themselves to be stewards of the land, and who believe that their duty as Christians demands that they care for God’s creation. I found this article by Dr. Ray Bohlin
Christian Environmentalism, and I was heartened by what I read there. Heartened, until I got to the following paragraph:

By failing to fulfill our responsibilities to the earth, we are losing a great evangelistic opportunity. Many in our society are seeking an improved environment, yet they think that most Christians don’t care about ecological issues and that most churches offer no opportunity for involvement.

Because the environmental movement has been co-opted by those involved in the New Age Movement, many Christians have begun to confuse interest in the environment with interest in pantheism and have hesitated to get involved. But we cannot allow the enemy to take over leadership in an area that is rightfully ours. As the redeemed of the earth, our motivation to care for the land is even higher than that of the New Ager. Jesus has redeemed all of the effects of the curse, including our relationship with God, our relationship with other people and our relationship with the creation (1 Cor. 15:21-22, Rom. 5:12-21). Though the heavens and the earth will eventually be destroyed, we should still work for healing now.

 The language that refers to “enemies” and the assurance that even though the earth will eventually be destroyed, was distressing. I had wanted, in my heart of hearts, to find some hope that perhaps Moyers was over-stating things.

If he was, the following did nothing to reassure me:
Carter and again
What Scriptures Tell Us About
Environmental Stewardship

Samuel Casey Carter

Now that secular liberalism has all but driven orthodox religion out of public life, it should come as no surprise that heterodox spirituality has become the latest battering ram of the left. In a time when the Bible has been expunged from schoolrooms as an icon of Western bigotry, biblical arguments are now oddly on the comeback, recast as a fashionable means of pushing a leftist agenda. What is not to be expected is the degree to which well-meaning Christians have become the spokesmen of these distortions. Embracing the tenets of radical environmentalism without an eye to the manner in which these teachings are fundamentally hostile to Christian tradition, a new brand of Christian is out to save the earth, but in doing so he may well flip his faith upon its head.

The gist of the argument is this. Care too much about the earth, and you’ve supplanted God as object of worship. The earth becomes just another graven image. Think I’m kidding? Read on:

As it was said in the beginning, Christian environmentalists have turned the world on its head. In using language reserved for God to show their concern for the Earth, they have only bred contempt for man and made a mockery of real religion. What they have not done is to make the Earth a proper object of worship. It can’t be. But more to the point, theirs is not a genuine religious concern. They have simply invoked religious rhetoric to give new urgency to their worldly agenda. Sadly, for those who don’t discern this agenda, this manner of speaking will make an idol of the Earth

You’ve got to give me credit. I’m stubborn. I really don’t want to believe that these are mainstream views. And I did find some good news, I think.  I googled “Christian environmentalism” and found this Christianity Today, and I thought I had struck a gold mine. But all the articles are from 2001 or before.

It is difficult to reach this adminstration. They have bought the Brooklyn Bridge that Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish political scientist who claims that global warming is a hoax, is selling. Two years ago, I went to hear Bjorn Lomborg speak at a conservative think tank in Washington. The talk, and the questions that followed, were frightening, not only for their ignorance of basic science, but because of their hatred of environmentalists, who are seen as extremists who hate the United States.

For me, the atheist, nature is the only temple I want to worship in. It is the place where I get in touch with the Muse, and I have discovered that, West Coast woman that I am, the Eastern woods hold marvels. As I wrote to a friend one day:
“I love the Eastern woods. When I’m out West, I marvel at Nature’s spectacular displays  of will-the soaring peaks, jagged rocks, enormous Doug Firs and Sitka Spruces. There,  the Muse seems to me to be in her young, nubile phase, bestowing her favors on those  hardy enough to make the journey into some pretty challenging pieces of country.  Whereas when I’m in the woods around here, I’m always struck by how fecund  everything is. It’s lush, viridescent, sensual in a way that the west is not. I think the Muse  here is the maternal, plump and rounded and not so rough around the edges, a little  scarred and battered, but worn smooth by experience, and yet incredibly sexual in the  sheer plethora of life that grows along a path through the woods. Today the cicadas and  crickets were competing for airtime, there was a kestrel hunting, I could hear the rustle  of woodchucks and chipmunks in the woods. The squirrels were in the oak trees,  chucking acorns down at me and I just felt so damn happy and grateful to be alive and
able to participate in all of this.”

I am asking you to help me figure out a way to reach these people, at least in terms of the environment. I know no dialogue in some areas is possible. But I cling to this stubborn hope that if we can find the right words, we can convince even the end-time Christians, that the Rapture does not give them the excuse to destroy their God’s most glorious creation.

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