One of the pivotal moments in my environmental "career" came when I was working in a law firm in the early 1990's. While in the copy room in this office, I got involved in a fracas with a large and aggressive male who had overheard me making comments about the lack of recycling of the tons of paper being tossed out in such firms. When he heard my comment about "Mother Earth," he flew into a rage, declaring himself a Christian and saying, "I'm not born of this stinkin' Earth." Needless to say, I was taken aback, but this moment seared itself in my memory, and I began to closely analyze the connection between the degradation of the planet and fanatic religious belief.
It became clear to me that any ideology which teaches that it is proper and righteous to spit on one's own home is false, erroneous, mean, rotten and dangerous. And, believe me, at that point in history such an attrocious attitude defined religion and, in the U.S., Christianity in particular. In the past few years a relative handful of conscientious people who label themselves Christian has arisen to express concern about the planet we all live on, but many still remain in the "Rapture" frame of mind that not only cares not a fig for the earth but that actually practices studied contempt for our world.
Let me provide yet another example that many of you may have also experienced. A friend has written a message entitled "Global Warming & the Bible," in which he relates the following experience:
About a half dozen family members met yesterday for 'fathers day' dinner. I asked my uncle (a great sportsman & country singer) about the recent Al Gore movie "An Inconvenient Truth" & asked him if he noticed anything different about the environment that he fishes & hunts in on this topic. None of us have seen to movie yet because it isn't playing near us.I too have encountered this destructive and self-serving attitude in "elders" who, facing their own impending death, evidently find comfort in the impending destruction of all life as we know it as well. In most cases, it is likely not very useful for those of us concerned to create discord within our families by openly challenging or contradicting such an attitude. We may "go along to get along," and such polite behavior may set an example.
Anyway my uncle has never researched this topic & is trying to tell me this is all a fraud. My uncle said last night that a vulcano pumps out more CO2 than all of our vehicles put together. "So what's the problem?" he says. He claims, "there's nothing we can do about it & anything we do try to do won't make the slightest difference.
Vehicles are not the cause of it". He continues, "the end is in the bible anyway, it's time for the lord to come & you better be ready. Are you ready" he says to me.
"READY?" I replied, "Oh yeah, I'm ready & wish he'd get some fire under his feet & hurry up" (probably not even realizing that I am now an ATHEIST!!!)
My uncle recently recovered from cancer just 2-3 months ago. Obviously, it was a miracle & Jesus did it. He knows this, so it is a fact. Well, anyway it sounds like he's getting his [environmental] information from church, doesn't it? He has become a bible thumper for sure.
I am uncomfortable taking issue with my uncle under his recent circumstances & the fact that we've lost about half a dozen family members in the last 2 years including my own father, with a few more probably not far off now.
Nevertheless, it may also be helpful to voice gently but firmly one's own opinion of self- and earth-preservation, based on common decency if nothing else, as the younger generation undoubtedly would appreciate it. In my own experience, while the older generation in general has gotten its feathers ruffled by my opinions, the younger people have thanked me in private and years later for stating my case. I strongly believe that the young ones are vastly relieved to hear a difference of opinion as to whether or not the earth is expendable in "God's eyes" or in our own. After all, these youngters will be living here when their self-defeating elders are long gone, and they are also doubtlessly looking forward to families of their own who will likewise appreciate any and all efforts at preserving and improving life on Earth. When one of my cousins, for example, became an adult, he thanked me for including him as an 11-year-old in my "adult" conversations. Moreover, some of the older people may also be relieved by your gently-but-firmly voiced opinions as to responsible care of the planet. As an aside but an example of how it is wise to give the benefit of doubt to older people, one of my most cherished memories is from an elderly couple who, after reading my book The Christ Conspiracy, thanked me profusely for helping them from themselves from the shame and guilt associated with religious beliefs, such that they could now die in peace.
Think about it. This planet is not "this stinkin' Earth." It's our beloved one and only home. And, despite fervent and sincere hopes that we may be able one day to inhabit other planets, "one day" remains very far off, and this hope does not in any event justify the wanton and uncaring destruction of our beautiful home. We must, therefore, find a way not only to "get along" but also to thrive and prosper. Our children depend on it.