In this week leading up to Christmas, I wrote with a cheesy title (Earth: smokin') about religion, anti-environmentalism, and the end of the world, as explored in the new book Divine Destruction. A lot of people don't know that many powerful fundamentalist Christians are eager to see the world end to hasten Jesus' second coming; such beliefs help to unravel ecological protections. On the brighter side, many Christian congregations are pushing lately for a greater awareness of tending to the earth. And Christian conservationists are no fringe element; name any cause for social or environmental justice, and you'll find a long history of legions of faithful folk at the core of such work.
I'm delighted that Don of the Evangelical Ecologist blog has taken an interest in my post, inviting his readers to check it out. Don shares these wise comments--read to the end for tips on how people of varied beliefs can work together:
A lot has changed in Christian circles since the dominion movement (early 90's). There was a big backlash against DM as your Wiki link notes, "mainline Christian denominations (and most Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists) reject Dominion Theology." Frankly, I'm 41 and my body will give out someday, but I'd be an idiot not exercise and eat well. They're probably out there, but have yet to run into anybody who thinks polluting will hasten Christ's return. On the contrary - the Bible (as most Christians interpret it) says when He comes back He should find us doing good stuff. DM is an interesting discussion, but in the interest of space I'd like to stick with where Christian ecology is today, and how we can work together.
Realizing the Church hasn't always stepped up to the plate, it's trying to now. The National Association of Evangelicals released "For the Health of the Nation," a call to Christians in America to get involved in a number of social issues, including the environment. I had chance to talk with NAE's Rich Cizik and it was clear to me this was not about using ecology to push some sort of Christianizing social agenda, but rather to get folks out of their pews and join the rest of those concerned about the poor, the sick, and the environment. EEN and other groups might seem hokey to Greenerside readers, but the folks who have signed on have a great deal of credibility, and come from just about every Christian denomination. Mega churches like Vineyard in Boise and groups like Living Waters for the World are making a difference for public health and the environment.
- Keep blogging! The more we environmentalists from all walks of life,
Christian and non, communicate on these issues, the more we're going to
be able to focus on the important planet stuff. "City Hippy" Al
deserves a lot of credit for instance for encouraging all walks of
eco-blogdom to participate in the Carnival of the Green.
- Focus on solutions rather than us/them stuff. My links page has both Christian and secular environmental orgs. We should all be contributing to the discussion on climate, pollution, regulations, habitat, etc, even though we might not always agree on outcomes. Again, I give a lot of credit to you, Elsa, for being willing to listen to a Christian environmental perspective. Conservatives haven't always treated progressive eco's with respect either, and I'm preaching to myself too here. That needs to change. Along those lines...
- Respect perspectives. Honestly, I can't understand the rationale of somebody who wants to save a species when they don't know whether natural selection has destined that species for extinction. If I think saving a habitat is important because God made it, and you think it's important "just because" or for sustainability or some other reason, that's cool. We can respect where each other's coming from, and still preserve habitat.