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Faith & the Environment
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April 1, 2008


                      Faith & the Environment


Over the weekend, many cities around the world observed what was dubbed an “earth hour” (see "Cities Switch Off Lights for Earth Hour," AP story from 3/30/08).  Lights at prominent attractions were briefly turned off and some citizens hosted dinner parties by candlelight. 

I imagine that most people in the participating cities burned their lights and a few hours later the lights that draw the eye to famous landmarks were burning again and pulling electricity off of the grid.

A nice PR stunt but little substantive was accomplished.  However, this is a start.

Yesterday, former vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore announced a massive $300 million effort to lobby for climate change/global warming policy changes in America (see "Gore Launches Ambitious Advocacy Campaign on Climate, " Washington Post story from 3/31/08).

Why do we always reflexively expect laws to be panaceas?  The money could probably be used in a better way.

According to the article Gore said, "The simple algorithm is this: It's important to change the light bulbs, but it's much more important to change the laws."  He believes that laws passed nationally will have more effect than the small changes that he suggested in his Oscar-winning documentary. 

Some of these included fully inflating car tires and using long-lasting low energy fluorescent light bulbs at home.  I haven’t seen the movie, but I beg to differ.

Changing our individual lifestyles, in actuality, can make all the difference.  Especially, if you make the changes in the name of the Lord in order to protect His creation.

For over five years now, I have been engaged in precisely just this type of endeavor.  It has been a growth process; it wasn’t accomplished all at once.  And, it's a work in progress.  I certainly don't have all the answers and the conventional wisdom on these issues is constantly in flux.

First, I became more conscious of not letting the water flow continuously from the faucet while I cooked in the kitchen.  More importantly, I decreased to a minimum those instances when I would leave the refrigerator door open when getting ready to prepare a meal, as I contemplated if I had all of the ingredients or not.

It's not that I didn't think of doing these things before.  The mind was willing but the body was weak (Mathew 26:41; Mark 14:38).  Only with faith and the power of the Holy Spirit could I find the will to really change.

I have not used my car for three years.  I walk, ride my bike or take public transportation almost exclusively.  You see, if we are going to reverse this environmental catastrophe that we have unleashed on the planet we must change the way we think and act.

This means lowering the thermostat in winter.  No more walking around half-naked with the heat blasting in February.  We must raise the temperature in the summer.  Certainly, going with cold showers during the warmer months is an option that we should grow into. 

Much of the world gets by without air conditioning, as did our ancestors.  I went three of the last four summers without A/C.

As a nation, we must get used to the idea that in order to limit the effects of climate change and global warming the economy will be smaller.  This means we will all make less money. 

If we begin by making individual sacrifices at home the collective monetary sacrifice that comes later will be easier to take.  One thing Gore has right is that if we all change our habits and worldviews, the politicians will follow.

I usually go to bed and wake up early.  I don’t own a television, so I am able to limit the lights I burn at night.  Although I have decided against going with candles (fire hazard), I have been known to putter around the house or read at night by solar flashlight (see Bogo Flashlight website).  If it worked when I was a kid at summer camp, why not now?

I take other measures that involve hygiene that are easier for me because I live alone.  During ancient times when Jesus lived, and in many developing countries today, people had to fetch water from a well or stream that wasn’t always close by.  When you live like that it I imagine it changes your outlook. 

As a people, we didn’t always live like we do now.  I can remember a time in this country when everyone didn’t have air conditioners.  Since I’ve been walking with the Lord I have had extended hi-tech “fasts” with no computers or cell phones.  Sometimes, I wash up in the sink, what my mom calls a “bird bath,” or rinse out clothes in the tub.

The point is we can change.  See the “Faith & the Environment” page on the navigation bar for additional suggestions.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days or even periods of time when I just can’t cut it.  The sacrifice is too great and I revert to the norm.  But, when this happens I ask the Lord’s forgiveness.  When I fall down I get back up again.  I include my own “green” behavior and the world’s in my prayer life.  Do you?

As people of faith we must begin to take the lead on these issues.

If millions of people made changes like this then Al Gore wouldn’t be wasting $300 million on some ad campaign and we wouldn’t need some silly “earth hour.”

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