This piece was cross-posted on Slow Love Life.
This morning I read an email from my MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE colleague Elisa Batista about how her Catholic church group is helping people write to the EPA in favor of strong regulations on mercury pollution. I suddenly remembered being a teenager learning about the Vietnam War at church; I grew up thinking that an important part of the ministry was political engagement. I respect that engagement, no matter what position is taken: anti-war, or anti-abortion. I can disagree, but I think it is profoundly important for groups of faith to listen to one another, and to provide a forum for discussion and guidance.
I’ve been intrigued, and more than a little mystified, by Governor Rick Perry’s strategy of ending the drought in Texas by praying to God to send rain.
Not because of the prayer part, mind you. Even committed agnostics have been known to pray to God when things are going badly–either because their belief turns out to be buried deep inside, or just to cover their bases. I understand why Perry would write a proclamation to ask others to join with him in prayer.
No, what mystifies me is Perry’s attitude that this is a ONE WAY DEAL. God has to save us. But we can do WHATEVER WE WANT!
Many religious leaders understand that the Bible tells them that humans were meant to be stewards of the Earth. Having dominion does not mean being destructive. For instance, some religious groups have come together to articulate a religious response to global warming in an organization called Interfaith Power and Light.
Governor Rick Perry is not among their number. He protects the coal plants that keep polluting, keep poisoning the air, keep harming fetuses and infants and toddlers. Texas has some of the most polluting coal plants in the country. Even Texas’ beloved pecan trees are dying from coal pollution. Perry seems to think God should look kindly on this abuse of nature.
If you are religious, you believe that God is here, among us, with us, in us. Maybe because I come from a long line of ministers on my Browning side, I couldn’t help but think in terms of a sermon for Governor Perry:
God warned Noah of a terrible flood, and told Noah to build an ark. (If the citizens of the Ark threw their trash overboard during their long floating ordeal, it was only because they didn’t yet understand the consequences of pollution.) In return, God made a Covenant to protect Noah and his descendents. Noah held up his end of the deal. He did what God asked–and it was expensive and time-consuming, too. It radically altered his lifestyle. But he knew what was at stake.
Noah took care of helpless creatures. He knew he needed them, for food, for clothes, yea, even for comfort, as much as they needed him. He ferried them to safety through the Mother of All Extreme Weather Events.
We are Noah’s descendents. And we are NOT doing what God asked. We are not taking care of all creatures. We are befouling the air and the water–even as we know full well what we do. We are defacing and destroying God’s work, a work of beauty that is beyond the power of words to describe.
Message to Governor Perry: GOD IS TALKING TO YOU. ARE YOU LISTENING?
God is talking to all of us. God is sending floods to drown our people and wipe our homes off the face of the earth. God is sending drought to burn our crops, and heat to fry us. God is melting off the sources of fresh water that give us life. And God is visiting upon us plagues of jellyfish.
Well, okay. That’s a sermon version of what’s happening. The science is that humans are bringing these terrible plagues on themselves. But science and religion can coexist in posters of mutual enhancement.
We can’t just keep doing the same old thing. We have to hold up our side of the bargain with God. We were given the gift of life in a beautiful place. We have a planet to cherish. And if we don’t, God will wipe away the pestilence–that would be us–that is destroying his most beautiful creation. Our world.
I don’t know about you, but I want my children to inherit this beautiful planet.
Governor Perry: You are praying for rain. But your actions speak louder than your prayers. God is listening. Are you?