Plastic Theology or Practical Stewardship
Maybe there are still three or four of you out there who think Al Gore is nuts, that global warming is some mythical plot by the Trilateral Commission to move us towards a one world government and usher in the reign of the anti-Christ. Maybe, in other words, you think the entire environmental movement is a colossal waste of time because the earth is going to be burned with intense heat someday anyway, so why bother preserving it now. "Maybe", some of you are thinking, "the intense heat with which the world will burn is caused by global warming, in which case the faithful thing to do in order to hasten the end times is to drive your hummer two blocks to rent a video, and fill your shopping cart at the grocery store with as many petroleum based packages as possible, along with foods that have been produced through petrol based fertilizers, the soil of which has been tilled, hydrated, and harvested by petrol based machines. Then finally, when you get to the checkout stand and the hospitality clerk says "paper or plastic", you smile and say, "Why plastic of course! Jesus is coming soon."
That way you can contribute to the 100 BILLION plastic bags Americans consume each year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to produce, and which have a hard time biodegrading themselves bag into the earth, thus contributing to toxic landfills scattered around the country. Oh, and I get to keep my country dependent on foreign oil as a bonus, something even the staunchest conservative recoils at. Try to think about 100 BILLION - Jesus was walking in this earth about 1 billion minutes ago. 100 BILLION?? That would be:
100 BILLION choices of convenience over environmental responsibility
100 BILLION choices to further entrench our nation in its addiction to oil
100 BILLION opportunities to do a small thing to care for both the earth and our country, and to begin to behave with an environmental conscience like most of the rest of the world - opportunities which we collectively have failed to take because a tiny increase in convenience is more important.
For those of us do believe that environmental stewardship is part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus, the indictment is perhaps even more scathing. After all, what could be easier than bringing your own bag with you when you shop? And yet even this one small event eludes many of us, myself included (though the reading of this NY Times article might have finally brought enough conviction my way).
I read Deep Economy. I take the bus downtown 95% of the time. I quote Wendell Barry a lot. I talk a good game. And yet I leave my reusable bag at home or in the car when I go in to buy some bulk oatmeal. Old habits die hard. I share this as a reminder to myself that, if I'm not willing to do the little things, how will I ever rise to the occasion when the big thing is asked of me. And of course, it applies to all matters of stewardship, not just baggies. The difference between talking about Christianity and actually living it is a vital distinction in this information age, where it's cool to be informed and to discuss things - but monumentally difficult to make even the smallest changes. Maybe the place to begin is with our buying habits. Maybe, for some of us, the cost of discipleship includes carrying our own grocery bags. Is that too much to ask?