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You take care of your body, don't you?
December 16, 2004 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Evangelical enviromentalists. "Any kind of pollution that hurts the unborn, children, families and the poor—this is contrary to loving your neighbor, which is at the center of ethical teaching." Maybe there's hope for this world after all.
posted by fungible (31 comments total)

 
Interesting. Maybe they'll converge with people who've adopted a gospel according to the Earth.
posted by driveler at 3:56 PM on December 16, 2004


"In dismissing environmental activism, many Christians are just going along with what their allies are telling them," says Ball. "They haven't really taken a serious look at issues like climate change. But when they hear people like Sir Houghton, who can talk to them as a brother and a scientist, they think, 'We'll if a brother is saying it, there's gotta be something to this.'"

in other words ... If a christian says it then I should listen, because otherwise it's false. Yup, good stuff.

All-in-all, accidently doing the right thing for the wrong reasons isn't really that much better than doing the wrong thing.
posted by milovoo at 4:15 PM on December 16, 2004


The two stories within Genesis are interesting. One calls for dominion, the other states stewardship is the role of man.

Theologically I find it hard to care or distinguish (what with being an atheist and all), but more power to the christians that actually care about the environment.

The Christian Right are neither christian or right.
posted by wilful at 4:17 PM on December 16, 2004


These Christians are mixed up. Current policy is to spoil the earth with wild abandon because Jesus is coming soon, so why should we care? It's not just sillyness. It's what some of our highest leaders believe.
posted by fleener at 4:23 PM on December 16, 2004


Next thing you know, they'll be saying war is bad for the kids.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:24 PM on December 16, 2004


How about as an alternative we go out and perform a little baptism ceremony on all the endangered creatures that we can get our hands on, then say that they and their offspring should be preserved because they are now christian creatures.

Then we can have a consecration ritual around all the contested rainforests and defend them with the argument that you shouldn't mess with these holy trees.

Is that what it would take, and would it really be progress?
posted by milovoo at 4:26 PM on December 16, 2004


This has potential. Regardless of the actual flaws their philosophy holds, it creates a common point between the left and right, and makes environmental debate a bit more of a network rather than a dichotomy. This helps amicable solutions as opposed to complete domination of one point of view over another. It's also good to see the insane logic of some fundamentalists lead to a positive step.

I'm sick of being able to look at an issue and foresee which side the left and right wings will be on. I hate it when pigeonholing becomes accurate. I want some surprises. I want some upwingers, dammit.
posted by cosmonik at 4:28 PM on December 16, 2004


It's also good to see the insane logic of some fundamentalists lead to a positive step.

That'll bring 'em out of the ol' pigeonhole.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:51 PM on December 16, 2004


It was bound to happen sooner or later. Christianity has a lot of teachings, and it's quite common for some to be overlooked. Of course, with so many followers out there, nothing goes overlooked entirely.

Anti-environmentalism is the domain of big-business Republicans. Destroying the environment to provoke a second coming is the preaching of false Christianity, far too widespread.

I may not agree with the fundies on much, but credit is due. True followers do wish to take good care of the world, and I'd say that's inarguably a good thing.
posted by Saydur at 5:15 PM on December 16, 2004


Current policy is to spoil the earth with wild abandon because Jesus is coming soon, so why should we care?

Isn't current policy based on the premise that god wants them to be rich?
posted by mudpuppie at 5:23 PM on December 16, 2004


"In response to the work of people like Jim Ball, the market-oriented Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship was formed..." I see this going the same way as Rev. Ball's earlier genius move,What Would Jesus Drive. I think I saw four or five pundits railing against this seemingly harmless agitpop. My guess is their fax machines were overflowing with directives and fodder from these right-wing think tanks.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:22 PM on December 16, 2004


the economist sorta made this point too :D
There is also now a celestial voice in energy policy. Conservative religious groups are increasingly concerned about the issue. Christianity Today, the magazine of Billy Graham's evangelical movement, has just run an editorial arguing the moral case for action on climate change. As Mr Lieberman says with a smile, “The earth is, after all, a faith-based initiative.”

Mr Bush's religiosity is well known; however, he also frequently talks about himself as an environmentalist. That position is much mocked. But he now has a chance to start changing American attitudes towards energy. The NCEP report is a much better starting point than that old pork-laden energy bill.
cheers!
posted by kliuless at 7:42 PM on December 16, 2004


All I can say is the article actually gave me a little hope, and it's probably the first one to do so since the election. Evangelical Christians actually paying attention to some of Christ's teachings? And breaking (if ever so slightly) with right-wing cut-throat dogma? I'd like to see more.
posted by fungible at 7:42 PM on December 16, 2004


Seems kinda selfish if you ask me.

I mean, we in the 1st world got to advance our society through industry, but now we're all sanctimonious about the 3rd world doing the same? Why shouldn't they be allowed to exploit their natural resources? Just because we finally got a conscience doesn't change the fact that they're still ass-poor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:11 PM on December 16, 2004


Sojourners is another representative of an evangelical Christian American anti-war anti-Bush environmentalist voice. They're one Christian publication that I can read and actually appreciate, given their emphasis on social justice.
posted by heatherann at 8:43 PM on December 16, 2004


Civil_Disobedient: I mean, we in the 1st world got to advance our society through industry, but now we're all sanctimonious about the 3rd world doing the same? Why shouldn't they be allowed to exploit their natural resources? Just because we finally got a conscience doesn't change the fact that they're still ass-poor.

It's true that most first world countries got there start exploiting/exporting their natural resources but no one since the start of the industrial revolution gets to be a first world country merely through resources alone. Those resources used to be a stepping stone to get the capital needed to finance the move to industrialization. The start up costs of an industrial economy are astronomical, but I think the world is increasingly moving into a post industrial era and some of the barriers of entry into the technological economy are much lower. As india's burgeoning tech economy attests there is not really a need to use natural resources as a stepping stone. Perhaps it would be better to provide them a strategy of skipping the normal plunder stage of economic development, possibly by investing in their economies such that they can enter the marketplace with the environment intact. At least that would be one position my own feeling is: Oooh, so Mother Nature needs a favor?! Well maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys! Nature started the fight for survival, and now she wants to quit because she's losing. Well I say, hard cheese.
posted by Endymion at 8:50 PM on December 16, 2004


Endymion: I hope you're being facetious with that last statement. It's not a competition, you know. They call it the environment because you live there. Unless living in an artificially-supported oxygen tent appeals to you.
posted by fungible at 9:44 PM on December 16, 2004


As india's burgeoning tech economy attests there is not really a need to use natural resources as a stepping stone.

Not unless you count poverty as a natural resource, being exploited by (surprise) the 1st world (once again).

Nature started the fight for survival, and now she wants to quit because she's losing. Well I say, hard cheese.

This made me laugh.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:25 PM on December 16, 2004


fungible: It's a quote from The Simpsons by, of course, Mr. Burns.

Not unless you count poverty as a natural resource, being exploited by (surprise) the 1st world (once again).

I don't because there is nothing natural about it. Nevertheless the lowered cost of business is a tremendous asset to them, do you think we would be outsourcing jobs if their workers were more expensive? Seriously, the easiest way to get ahead in a capitalist society is to undercut your competitor. The Japanese did it with great success and went from making cheap knockoff electronics to expensive namebrands, all the while steadily gaining market share.
posted by Endymion at 10:50 PM on December 16, 2004


ah. Been a while since I watched that. If it was from South Park, now that I would get.
posted by fungible at 11:06 PM on December 16, 2004


Seriously, the easiest way to get ahead in a capitalist society is to undercut your competitor. The Japanese did it with great success [...]

That's not entirely accurate. The Japanese were able to undercut American businesses by a steady use of dumping, an impenetrable one-way trade barrier, a captive home market, and the monopolistic practices of giant keiretsu that would be illegal under American anti-trust law. But they were also geniuses at using our own greed against us, and for that they deserve our deepest respect.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:36 PM on December 16, 2004


Hey business is war.
posted by Endymion at 12:20 AM on December 17, 2004


The Japanese were able to undercut American businesses by a steady use of dumping

If by dumping, you mean providing America with a weak excuse for protectionism, then you are entirely correct.
posted by biffa at 3:44 AM on December 17, 2004


"All-in-all, accidently doing the right thing for the wrong reasons isn't really that much better than doing the wrong thing."

Right. Because, remember boys and girls, your good deeds only count if you did them for the right reason...

And people wonder why they're parodied as thought police.
posted by Irontom at 5:09 AM on December 17, 2004


If by dumping, you mean providing America with a weak excuse for protectionism, then you are entirely correct.

Huh?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:54 AM on December 17, 2004


And people wonder why they're parodied as thought police.

Who? What people? or you just type out whatever vague insult comes to mind first?

I'm not describing internal rationale, I'm talking about the moral and ethical reasons used for political priorities and decision-making. Those are the reasons that will, when the time comes to evaluate the progress, have to be defended. If your environmental actions are based on god's approval, then at what point can you check how successful you have been. Do you understand now?
posted by milovoo at 7:58 AM on December 17, 2004


If your reasons for preserving the Earth are based on the fact that you believe that the deity who created the Earth told you to take care of it, I don't see much problem.

One might disagree that said deity exists, sure. But if the idea is really taken seriously, I can see it leading to an even more conscientiously environmental policy than utilitarian pro-con evaluations. Utilitarians believe that a healthy environment is more profitable in the long term. Mystics believe that they're in deep shit if they don't treat Earth right. It'd be nice to see more Christians migrating into the second camp.
posted by verb at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2004


I love my mother.

Don't poop in your nest.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Be good stewards.

What would God say if she were asked about environmentalism?
Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind?
posted by nofundy at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2004


If your reasons for preserving the Earth are based on the fact that you believe that the deity who created the Earth told you to take care of it, I don't see much problem.

Again, I will say that "protecting the environment" is not a binary decision, it's not a yes or no. Good intentions are a happy thing, but basically useless. There are tough decisions that have to be made about what is important (unless everyone out there is willing to be hardcore vegan, nudist, mass-transit, low-tech crunchie, right now, today!) and if you are adding god to the decision-making process, then who becomes the final authority. Does god like rivers or forests more? Does god think that birds or reptiles are more important? Who knows? Do we have to get a papal diet together to determine whether it's ethical to harvest oil in the AWAR? It's a problem for human beings to solve together by making sacrifices, and unfortunately even the maximum amount of faith one can have isn't going to clean up the toxic waste.
posted by milovoo at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2004 [1 favorite]


True, true. But at least that sort of framework would get more evangelicals to the table.
posted by verb at 12:06 AM on December 18, 2004


If by dumping, you mean providing America with a weak excuse for protectionism, then you are entirely correct.

Huh?


Sorry, I wasn't very clear there. I was suggesting that dumping wasn't a significant reason for Japanese industrial domination and that dumping is, in the majority, a concept employed by the US in order to enact anti-dumping legislation with the aim of protecting US industry from international competition while maintaining the illusion that the US favours open markets.
posted by biffa at 5:21 AM on December 18, 2004


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