Politics and the Church – The Politics of God [Part 26]

This week we will continue on with a look at environmentalism.  Just drive down our highways and we will see how seriously we take the environment as a society.  The crying Indian must be having a real crying session at what can be seen.  Unfortunately we have ‘citizens’ who both love and who couldn’t care less about the nature around them.  Let’s look at those who show love for God’s gift to us.

The early conservationists would have taken time to clean up the streets of San Francisco or New York, unlike the yuppies who claim to be conservationists.  The founders of the environmental movement spent a great deal of time outdoors.  Teddy Roosevelt, who as president put hundreds of millions of acres of land under federal protection, spent years of his life in canoes and on horseback, hunting and fishing around the world.  Aldo Leopold, who helped to found the Wilderness Society in the 1930’s, once worked for the Forest Service in the then territory of New Mexico, where his job included shooting bears and mountain lions.  John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club, lived alone for years in Yosemite in a cabin he built himself, working as a shepherd. These were people who truly loved and appreciated the value of their environment.  They knew the difference of a conifer and a deciduous tree, could name three bird species, identify a brook trout, and never confuse a deer with a caribou.  They loved nature.  The early environmental movement reflected these individual’s love for God’s gift. These groups preserved wilderness, created national parks, fought pollution, and successfully lobbied for clean air and water legislation.  In their time, America’s environment improved.  Waterways became far cleaner, ecosystems and fisheries had been restored, land had been preserved, and birds of prey were flourishing.  The issues were straight forward and goals were measurable.

The Androscoggin River in Maine is an example of those who choose to abuse the gift.  For generations, paper mills dumped toxic effluent into the river.  The water turned unnatural colors and smelled bad.  The trout died.  The water was not just undrinkable but considered dangerous to the touch.  Locals even claimed it peeled the paint off houses near the river.  You didn’t have to be a member of Greenpeace to be offended.  The companies had no right to destroy the river but they did it anyway.  Not all of ‘man’s politics’ is bad…or questionable.  Congress passed the Clean Water Act.  The river is now clean enough to bathe in and the trout have returned.

The problem is that there are only so many rivers you can restore before you run out of high-profile victories.  Where do the ‘professionals’ come from to concentrate on these problems.  They have mortgages and children requiring income.  Donations can only raise so much money.  Is this possibly where the churches need to step in and remind their congregations as to their responsibility in maintaining God’s gifts?  It seems as though some subjects have become taboo in our pulpits.  Shouldn’t both our responsibilities to God’s Kingdom and God’s gift…Earth…be subject matter?

I came across a story to reflect the lack of concern for the environment by some in our society…some who claim to be such staunch supporters. Back in 2010 a business was moving to DC…Dupont Circle…after the election.  The office was found on Craig’s List and had been previously occupied by an environmental group that was moving into a new space in a more upscale part of town.  During an inspection of the office space it was noted that two of the office sinks didn’t drain very well.  When asked about the problem the previous occupant admitted that in getting the office ready to rent they had painted it and poured the remaining paint down the drain.  The vacating group of environmentalist had just won a multi-year grant to work on climate change, were flush with money, and moving into a shinny new building…where the sinks drained.  Many of our problems today can be traced by following the money trail.  Was this group interested in climate change or money?  We must be careful who we donate to.

With every passing year, the goals of the environmental movement become steadily more abstract.  Environmentalists have shifted their focus from the tangible world, with its feces-covered sidewalks, septic enough to infect pedestrians with E.coli, to concerns invisible to the naked eye, or even science.  They now spend their time and efforts trying to solve purely theoretical problems, spending out tax dollars and the un-informed donation dollars.  These battles can never be won, which is their main appeal.  A win would be a loss of $$$.  Meanwhile, the trash is piling up.

Ocean Beach is a narrow strip of national parkland along the western edge of San Francisco…we have already been exposed as to how filthy that area is.  In 2015, the National Park Service removed all trash cans along the beach’s seawall.  Why?  A spokesman explained that officials were “hoping to save staff time.”  Emptying the cans took too many hours.  The beach became filthy.  The trash stank.  Responsible citizens complained but to no avail.  Park Service employees did not consider the polluted beaches to be a meaningful environmental concern.  The Service web site did not mention the trash disaster on the beach but did an extensive video series on “climate change in national parks”.  This is how out-of-touch some of these people are.

Since these beaches are part of God’s gift to us, wouldn’t it seem appropriate that the churches ban together to one,…include within their organizations a small group(s) to periodically do clean-up, and two, to pressure the government to focus on the real problems and use funding where it will have the most positive, immediate effects?  I have always believed that God is in charge of our environment and has been since creation.  Global warming gave us the Great Lakes!

Next week we will look at how the environmentalists may be doing more harm than good.  We must remember that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’.  Once again we must follow the money trail.

– Bob Munsey

“Compassion is the basis of all morality”    -Arthur Schopenhauer

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