Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day: Green and Yet Faithful!

It's always amazing to me that God cares enough about me to arrange things so that eventually, I'll get the message. I am rather obtuse - things that are so apparent to some are not even in my line of vision. As a result, I don't notice long held grudges or closely guarded cliques so I can be friends with everyone. It also makes me a difficult friend to have - you really have to spell things out for me! Subtle hints aren't going to work. Beating around the bush could take all day. A two by four little straight talk is far more effective - and not everyone is comfortable with having to just say it. It can be a problem.

Truly, that last paragraph has nothing to do with Earth Day, being green or living faithfully - but maybe it will explain to you why it takes many flashing neon signs gentle prodding from God to clear up my thinking enough to share my thoughts here ... well, it takes a bunch of prodding. Everyone and their dog is talking about being green - nothing I have to say is new, but here we go - I can't ignore the prodding, and Earth Day seems like the most perfect time!

For the longest time I thought that the things that the really cool people now call 'being green' were just plain common knowledge. I was born in Canada and raised by my parents to to respect God's beautiful Creation, to be frugal and to be polite. Hanging up our clothes to dry, composting veggie scraps and carrying our own fabric grocery bags was just the way we did things.

When my Historian and I got married and I moved to the U.S., I definitely got the impression that I was, well weird. Beyond weird actually - I was radical. All of the things that just came as second nature to me, like cooking from scratch and recycling everything we could, were just not overly popular back then. They were definitely far too labor intensive, hopelessly old fashioned, and really quite unnecessary. I got the distinct impression that our lifestyle was somehow anti-Christian or at the very least, not quite Baptist. It seemed like we could not be 'ecology minded' and still be a respectable Pastor's family.

Time and again I tried to encourage our churches to get rid of the Styrofoam coffee cups and use mugs, to make washable cloth table coverings and get rid of the plastic and to use the stacks of restaurant style dinner plates hidden in the back of the cupboard instead of the paper plates that they bought by the thousands! I even offered to help with the clean up. My ideas were met with resounding 'NO!'s or, sometimes a lame 'we probably should, but it's so much extra work!'. I was given the impression that we had better things to think about, more spiritual things. I gave up and shut up.

Not in our own home though - we've just been quietly rebelling all these years! Full disclosure here. We have been imperfectly composting, growing a garden, line drying our clothes, using cloth rags and washing them, recycling, eschewing harmful chemicals, buying second hand clothes, cooking from scratch, collecting rain water for the garden, recycling bath water, eating close to home whenever possible, using cloth napkins, and *gasp* flushing only when required. Just radical, I know. Thankfully, we've met some other like minded folks along the way, and enjoyed our simple life style in good company.

We could have kept our green little secret strange behavior to ourselves, but then we were blessed with children, and well, you know how that goes. We no longer have any secrets. They are fully indoctrinated in our simple common sense ways and are huge helpers with the composting, recycling and line drying. They think it is normal for Mama to make supper from scratch and not get it from a box or can, and they have folded more then their fair share of rags and cloth napkins. They think green without even thinking about it.

The good news is, our lifestyle is getting to be somewhat fashionable now - kind of like the frugal folks who are being idolized in light of the current economy. Everything old is new again. We're not getting so many strange looks when we hand over the cloth bags at the grocery store! I don't get questioned when I ask the children to carry out their recyclables when no bins are provided. Don't worry though - we are still not flaunting our 'green' side - we are just quietly going about our business, because well, that's how we've always done things. Is there more we could do? I'm quite sure there is! Are we willing to do more? Absolutely.

What we are not willing to do is buy into the current fear motivated philosophy of living gently on this good earth. We are not convinced that humans are quickly destroying the planet, and that we must frantically do whatever we can to somehow 'save' this fragile earth. It seems like 'everyone' is doing it - even many churches are jumping on the bandwagon. A pastor we heard recently was at a conference where everything was 'green'. He was tempted to throw around some garbage in response to their political correctness.

The thing is, I think perhaps many folks are 'going green' for the wrong reasons - and forgetting the One who is really holding it all together.

Here's the bottom line - the part I've been prodded to share. We don’t ‘worry’ about the environment because of the current media hype about ozone layers, global warming and carbon footprints. We are not responsible for this Creation - God is in charge and were are simply stewards. Are we doing a bad job of it - well certainly. What don't we do a bad job of? Honestly?

We fully believe that God completed His creation in Genesis and that He alone is sustaining it, an ongoing work of Jesus Christ. We don't have the responsibility of saving our physical planet. We are called to share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. This world is temporary, and a new heaven and new earth have been in the plans from eternity. We get all anxious about that but, God's word says it and I believe it. All of it. Yes, even when I can't fully understand it.

Isaiah 65:17

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

It's been a long time since I studied science, but our Dreamer is enjoying Grade Six science and has learned a few of the basic Laws - a good refresher course for me. Matter cannot be created or destroyed - a principle that God put into place and that current scientists seem to be forgetting, even though they are the ones that coined ‘The Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy’ based on the ideas of Epicurus who lived around 300 BC. As far as God is concerned, this planet is a 'closed system' and He isn't surprised by the ways in which we have messed it up, or by the fact that it seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction.

We just aren't stressed out about it - but we also aren't taking the fatalist's stand of doing nothing since apparently nothing we do really matters. We are not throwing around garbage. We are still called to be good stewards, even as imperfect stewards. We enjoy caring for this Creation in small practical ways - if that’s being ‘green’ we’ve been ‘green’ for a long long time. We just call these little things we do stewardship - but whatever you call it, it’s a lifestyle and not a passing trend. You can definitely be both'green' and faithful, and trust that He really does have the whole world in His hands!

Whew - I don't have to save the planet, and neither do you!

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  1. this was such a well-balanced, well-written blog post! i think it really communicates what a Christian's attitude should be towards going green. I'm not yet into hanging out my clothes, but I really do feel a responsibility to be a good manager of this earth, since that is what God created us to be. Some can do more than others, but I think we all need to have the same, right attitude.

    Thanks for vocalizing this -- it would make a great magazine article!

  2. Even though we are just right now slowing down the usage of Ziploc bags and paper towels, we've been living very simply in the city. I long for a country life but knowing that, in due time, the Lord will move us wherever He wants us to live. When my friends started cutting back and live with less due to the recent economy down fall, we didn't feel anything different because we have been living with less for so long that it is a natural thing to do. I love food made from scratch and I love homemade stuff. I am sorry that your church are not sensitive in the way of being good steward toward what the Lord has bless them with, but am glad to know you are teaching your children in that direction. Church and state do not raise our children, we do. Thanks for the well written post.

  3. I recently wrote a post just like this! Being a good steward of creation should just be a natural extension of our love for God. Thanks for posting.


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