God's Politics

God's Politics


Brian McLaren: Joseph, Noah, and Pre-emptive Preservation

posted by gp_intern

I’ve been thinking about the recent controversy regarding James Dobson and other conservative religious leaders who wrote a letter criticizing Richard Cizik and the National Association of Evangelicals for taking the threat of global warming seriously. They described global warming as a distraction from the top moral issues of the day. Their perspective made many of us from an evangelical heritage feel that we are living on another planet from these religious leaders.

I don’t know why I never thought of the comparison before, but this evening the biblical story of Joseph came to mind. He issued a warning – with no real scientific evidence – of a coming drought. The leadership of Egypt heeded his warning and began stockpiling food so that their people wouldn’t starve if and when the drought materialized.

As scientists go beyond identifying the threat of climate change to predicting its impact on global civilization, I wonder what it might look like for our nation and the nations of the world to take joint ameliorative action regarding greenhouse gases, and to take precautionary action regarding water and food. I wonder what it might be like for people of faith, like Joseph, to take a catalytic role in these efforts. And I wonder what mischief we might be legitimately distracted from if we came together around a cause like this.

The biblical story of Noah comes to mind too, because so many species have already been pushed to the brink of extinction and beyond, and with rapid climate change, this tragic trend is likely to skyrocket. What would it be like for people of faith to follow Noah’s example in preserving species wherever possible – by preserving natural habitat, and in other cases, creating “arks” to preserve species whose natural habitats are destroyed by flood or drought or melting ice or rising sea levels. People of God, both the Joseph and Noah stories suggest, are keenly interested in the common good – the good of all human beings and the good of all living creatures.

Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and others have complained recently about the ways that religious people use sacred texts for violent and cruel purposes. Perhaps stories like these can fund our imaginations in more constructive ways.


Brian McLaren (brianmclaren.net) is an author, speaker, Red Letter Christian, and serves as board chair for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. His most recent book is The Secret Message of Jesus, and his next book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope, will be released later this year.



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 4:53 pm


Without a doubt we all need to do a much better job of protecting th earth from human activities that could harm it. At the same time we need to be reasonable, open minded and considerate of those who may disagree with us in ways that are less than constructive yet still perhaps hold some merit. As Christians we need to address the iworld’s concerns in a very holistic fashion. Not everyone who feels that the global warming issue is still open to debate is a right wing conservative fundamentalist with a political ax to grind. It could very well be that some of our motivation comes from a concern for those elements of humanity that would be the first to suffer if draconian measures were put into place, especially if those measure were not necessary. Your example of Noah misses the mark because in that story God is the one who is threatening the earth with extinction, not man. Although many species of animal (including man) were saved for future repopulation, many millions of individual creatures, man and beast alike perished. It’s interesting that you referenced Harris and Dawkins (neither of their books I thought were very convincing). I am beginning to see the same type of fortress mentality developing among those who feel that global warming is an irrefutable fact as in those who insist upon the supremacy of natural selection (or even those who insist upon a 6 day creation). All discussion is officially over and any dissent is not worthy of respect.



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AustinT

posted March 12, 2007 at 6:01 pm


I think that, instead of putting blame on people or God or anything else, Brian was trying to say that this thing is happening, and that it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything if we starting thinking more green, and acting on it. It seems to me that throughout this entire debate, people on all sides are too busy worrying about what’s the cause, and not busy enough worrying about what we’re doing.I like Brian’s usage of the story of Joseph to illustrate that. The Egyptians didn’t sit around trying to figure out what was going to cause the drought-granted, we do need to know what the cause of this is, and what the effect of our actions are concerning this-rather, they started stockpiling food, just in case a drought were to happen.What would it hurt if we started thinking more green and acting on that , just in case our actions are affecting the environment in a negative way?



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Janice

posted March 12, 2007 at 6:55 pm


While I may disagree with the hullaballo that the letter to the NAE caused, and your assessment that Dobson believes global warming should not be taken seriously…. I’m very interested in the rest of your thoughts – what actions do you propose as far as ‘nations’ go? I definitely agree that we need a call to individual action that leads to a ripple effect… What specifics might you suggest? (i.e ‘precautionary action regarding water and food’) ~Janice, Ellicott City, MD



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 7:19 pm


Austin, I didn’t get the impression that Brian was trying to place blame either. It’s just that in those stories (albeit they may be metaphorical) God was the source of the crisis as well as the direct source of warning. Is this the case with the current ‘crisis’? I firmly believe that we need to think ‘green’ whenever and wherever possible. In fact, if we make serving Christ our first priority I don’t see how we could do otherwise. That being said, there is a difference between being personally aware of what one can do to protect the earth and the measures that world governments may decide to make for the same purpose. This is not the first time a perceived global catastrophe has been at hand and it might make more sense to move prudently and not make rash decisions that could affect the economic well being of billions of people. Every action has a reaction and sometime the result is the opposite of what is intended. I know this may sound trivial, but remember the furor over dispsable products?(my children were wearing Pampers at the time) A retreat from paper and plastic often a means a return to increased energy and water usage, along with the additional waste products entering the water system. Where does the trade off work best? In the case of global warming, there is much evidence for the position that this is a natural cycle of the earth’s rythm, a cycle which commenced before the addition of significant amounts of man-made greenhouse gasses had entered the atmosphere. At least there is enough evdence to keep this important conversation going. (also in Ellicott City)



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Alicia

posted March 12, 2007 at 8:18 pm


I will read Richard Dawkins book, “The God Delusion” even though I am put off by his evident disdain for religious people — I still want to hear what he has to say, because there may be something of value there for me. I just finished reading (and am beginning to reread) Sam Harris’ excellent book, “The End of Faith.”Not only is Harris a good writer, and an open-minded person (open to ideas such as God, life-after-death, and reincarnation, for instance) but he comes across as remarkably forthright, and makes a great deal of sense.What he has to say about what is wrong with religion is “right on” in my opinion. I am in the process of reading the Old Testament at the same time, and it is quite illuminating.The Book of Joshua, for instance. The Canaanites were to be “dedicated” to Yahweh (ie. slaughtered, down to a man, down to a woman, down to a child) though in some rare cases, virgins were spared, as spoil. Cattle and sheep were usually also “dedicated” to Yahweh.If I am to believe that this is literally God’s prescription for unbelievers, then how does that differ from “Slay the infidels whereever you find them?”



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Shawna R. B. Atteberry

posted March 12, 2007 at 8:21 pm


Brian, I like your emphasis on what we can do to preserve what we have and the examples of Noah and Joseph. I think this is where the discussion needs to go. Whether global warming is a natural planetary cycle or due to us (I think it’s a combination of both), we should be doing what we can to preserve and protect life: human, animal, and plant. Thank you for your thoughts. Shawna in Chicago



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 12, 2007 at 9:28 pm


I am curious whether there isn’t a heavy cost to “being green.” When I choose to allocate more of my money to a supposedly fuel efficient car, what other uses of those resources are foregone? An extra $10,000 for a car that burns less gas, not even close to $10,000 worth of gas, takes that money away from more productive activities. People are buying these cars, so they must see them as worthwhile, but how are they measuring worth? By the number of mouths we can feed, or by a feel-good absolve-my-guilt I-own-a-green-car emotion. Imposition of fuel economy regulations on vehicles and other similar laws merely hurt the poorest of the poor.



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AustinT

posted March 12, 2007 at 9:45 pm


But petitioning our government to spend more money on improving our public transportation systems and other things like that will help as well…and I don’t those those types of things as hurting the poor.



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butch

posted March 12, 2007 at 9:58 pm


“It could very well be that some of our motivation comes from a concern for those elements of humanity that would be the first to suffer if draconian measures were put into place, especially if those measure were not necessary.” Why the assumption that “draconian measures” are required and what measures will you sign on for? How do you know what God’s part in these predictions or visions are. Could it be that God is sending messages? I don’t know what God is saying but what is wrong with saying; “I’ll sign on for this”?



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 10:07 pm


The problem with both Dawkins and Harris is not that they are innacurate when it comes to identifying the problems that religous extemism presents. It’s that they have have no tolerance for moderation of any sort, whether it be with traditional religions or that of the most recent religion on the scene, “New Atheism”. Their understanding of the bible is negligible and they examine it with no regard to poetry, metaphor or story – much as a literal fundamentalist would, and of course, in the process they miss the point. In an interview with Gary Wolf of Wired magazine, Harris says;“At some point, there is going to be enough pressure that it is just going to be too embarrassing to believe in God.” Sadly, this closely describes what has come to be the most effective persuasive device in the “global warming” alarmist’s rhetorical tool bag; ridicule and disdain for their opponent’s arguments.



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Don

posted March 12, 2007 at 10:22 pm


AustinT is absolutely correct. Having viable public transportation will help everyone, including the poor. It is very costly to own and operate a motor vehicle, even an older, depreciated one. As in so many other things, such costs hit the poor disproportionally, and/or they result in needed repairs not being done because of cost, and thus, potentially dangerous vehicles remain on the roads. Good public transportation can also help the elderly, who often feel isolated from others, especially if they are unable to drive. Or they are forced to drive even if they shouldn’t. Our single-option transportation system is not only bad for the environment, it’s bad for people, too. Why aren’t more voices raised in doing something about it? As a matter of compassion, I think more should be. The technology exists for creating a balanced, efficient, and humane transportation system. We just need the right leadership behind it. Peace,



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 10:23 pm


Butch, you could be right, perhaps God does have a hand in ‘these predictions or visions’. Or then again, you could be wrong. I think we take great risks when we are eager to put God’s stamp of approval on our thoughts and deeds. Some of the Kyoto Protocols, when closely examined, could be considered draconian, especially if they are unwarranted. It has been demonstrated that some of these measures would result in enormous financial burdens for many people with minimal, if any substantial result.Our history books are full of plenty of good people who signed on for things that looked to be, at first glance, to be worthy causes. The world needs idealists but the world also needs those who have the ability to temper the over enthusiastic.



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butch

posted March 12, 2007 at 11:17 pm


“Or then again, you could be wrong. I think we take great risks when we are eager to put God’s stamp of approval on our thoughts and deeds.” Christian Beyer There is the same risk on the other side of that argument assuming you know what part God is playing. If you buy that argument then listen to those who study economics, medicine, physics, etc and decide how to act on their information that includes sorting through differing opinions. Act out of your best judgment and pray you have it right. And, I simply and utterly discount anyone who says; “I know God s will”.



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AustinT

posted March 12, 2007 at 11:23 pm


I think what Christian was trying to say is that all we can know for certain is what is happening. God could be speaking to people, or he could not.As far as the Egyptians were concerned in the story Brian used…God could have been speaking to Joseph, or Joseph could have been crazy.We’ll never know, until this plays out.But that’s not the point.The point is, we know the climate is changing, and we know that what we are doing to it certainly isn’t helping matters. Why not attempt to change?



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 11:27 pm


“Having viable public transportation will help everyone, including the poor” Especially the poor. Although not on the same scale as in Europe, we do have some excellent public transportation, in the form of trains, buses and cabs. They will be found in any of our major cities and even most of our second and third tier cities. (Heck even my hometown,Baltimore, has a multi-billion dollar subway. It only runs in one direction, though)Outside of places like DC and Manhatten, who uses this system? Primarily people that many would label as poor. The weatlthier folks (probably like many of us here on this blog, I would suspect) usually live in the more expensive suburbs where private transportation is not a luxury, it is an essential. In the Balt.Wash. Metro area where I live the average commute is 30 minutes each way. Our neighborhoods are so spread out and our jobs are so transient that public transportation would be an impossibility for many of us, even if it were available. (How about encouraging more people and businesses to move back into our cities instead of building very expensive transportation systems? Sounds good to me. Let me think about it some, first) Instead of asking governmnent to solve the world’s problems I think it might be better to ask ourselves questions like; what’s in my driveway? how big is my house and how many people live there? how often do I run my AC, where are my garments made? do I take long walks or do I drive to the gymn? how expensive is the food I feed my cat and dog? how much are my box seats at the local tax-built stadium? etc, etc. It’s pretty easy to become a pharisee, even of the environmental sort.



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butch

posted March 12, 2007 at 11:28 pm


And, I simply and utterly discount anyone who says; “I know God s will”. butchPS that includes anyone who says they know what “God’s will isn’t as well as what God’s will is.”



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 11:36 pm


The point is, we know the climate is changing, and we know that what we are doing to it certainly isn’t helping matters. Why not attempt to change?” Depends upon what ‘change’ means. As far as the climate changing, if it is part of a natural cycle then what is the concern over? And impact could our ‘changing’ have on the climate? More importantly (when you look at the present condition of the world’s people) what negative impact could our changing have on the world’s economy and geo-political stability?



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Christian Beyer

posted March 12, 2007 at 11:46 pm


I agree with you whole heartedly, Butch. However, Jesus has given us a pretty good example of God’s will. One need not see apparitions or hear voices to know what it is. And I think that’s just it. People on both sides of this debate most likely believe that they are engaged in working for Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. Is it possible that someone could have his or her facts wrong, accept evedince that would demand a faulty conclusion, and still be serving Christ? I think so. That’s why I think it makes sense to ‘surrender’ the high ground at times and allow those that we feel are ‘wrong’ to have their say. Through humility we may learn something that we had not allowed ourselves to see before. I don’t know if human induced climate change is a fact any more than I know that it is not. So let’s talk before we act, no matter how strong the temptation may be.



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Alicia

posted March 13, 2007 at 12:19 am


Christian Beyer said: “The problem with both Dawkins and Harris is not that they are innacurate when it comes to identifying the problems that religous extemism presents.It’s that they have have no tolerance for moderation of any sort, whether it be with traditional religions or that of the most recent religion on the scene, “New Atheism”.”Not having read Dawkins yet, except for bits of his articles on B-Net, I can’t judge either his writing or his argument, only give my impression that his abrasive style does his cause no good, except that it may gain him some attention.Of the “Evangelical Atheists,” thus far I am most impressed by Sam Harris. His criticism of religious moderates also seemed pretty on target to me, though I won’t go into depth about it here, I thought his points were extremely well-taken.Relating this back to the issue of Global Warming/Climate Change, I would agree that it is not fair to label everyone who questions what has become the prevailing opinion on Climate Change an anti-environmentalist (or whatever) and I agree with what you just said above about having some humility related to the issue.



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 12:40 am


I don’t know if human induced climate change is a fact any more than I know that it is not. So let’s talk before we act, no matter how strong the temptation may be. Christian Beyer This is not new, much data, research, much talk for years. Since you see it as one side against the other then choose your side and act.



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phil

posted March 13, 2007 at 12:56 am


even if climate change is not happening, can we afford to take the chance? and can we use that as an excuse for not taking care of G-d’s earth? even if it’s not, it doesn’t seem to matter…



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 13, 2007 at 1:03 am


Public transportation: Privately owned buses and jitney services were common all across America in times past. Only with government actions which limited the number of entrants into the transportation industry did those costs rise to a level above the means of the common man. Vanderbuilt ran a free ferry across the Hudson in New York until a monopoly was granted by government. He made money off concessions. Remove the limits and regulations on taxi and bus services and see how many new companies are created. Public transportation would work and be safe and attractive if privately owned and subject to the forces of a competitive market.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 13, 2007 at 1:11 am


We all must remember that a clean environment is a luxury good. The poor can’t afford for the factories near them to shut down because the costs of refurberishing to meet environmental standards are too expensive. They’d be out of a job and out of food. Until 100 years ago there was a different kind of pollution covering city streets, horse pollution. Which would you rather drive through? The car emits carbon monoxide, yet how much is gained by the car? Give up the Malthusian agrarian dream and recognize that the progress of men has been by and large to the benefit of humanity. You don’t really want to go back.



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Mark P

posted March 13, 2007 at 1:50 am


Some thoughts: “What would it be like for people of faith to follow Noah’s example in preserving species wherever possible – by preserving natural habitat, and in other cases, creating “arks” to preserve species whose natural habitats are destroyed by flood or drought or melting ice or rising sea levels. People of God, both the Joseph and Noah stories suggest, are keenly interested in the common good – the good of all human beings and the good of all living creatures.” -Brian, the biggest step to preserving these endangered species would be privatization. You may not like it, but the only way to (all but) guarantee the preservation of a species is to privatize it and make it profitable. -It may sound undesirable — it is. It may seem cold — it is. But if you really care about the animals, it is the best way to save endangered species… do note that privatized and profitable animals will pretty never be in serious danger of extinction. -As stated in other threads… rather than emphasizing punishment for good environmental situations, reward….



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 2:10 am


even if climate change is not happening, can we afford to take the chance? and can we use that as an excuse for not taking care of G-d’s earth? even if it’s not, it doesn’t seem to matter… philThis is the simplest question, until one addresses this then no argument about world climate change matters. I’ve gambled all my life, played poker for a living for years. Never make a bet you cannot afford to lose. I notice many with great writing skills and command of the language posting arguments so well crafted that as an English composition instructor would assign an A or A+ with glowing comments about writing skills.Who will give a shit if they are wrong? Before I could post I find another silly but well written argument. Great phrase “Malthusian agrarian dream”, wow! Good one Juris! “Give up the Malthusian agrarian dream and recognize that the progress of men has been by and large to the benefit of humanity. You don’t really want to go back. jurisnaturalist”



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jesse

posted March 13, 2007 at 4:43 am


If you’re interested in the science (published) behind global warming skepticism, you should view the Great Global Warming Swindle, a film shown on Channel 4 in the UK. It can be seen online here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9005566792811497638&q=The+Great+Global+Warming+Swindle&hl=en Leading scientists also express their concern about the exaggerations in Al Gore’s movie tomorrow in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13gore.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin.



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 5:57 am


If you’re interested in the science (published) behind global warming skepticism Jesse I didn’t go to your references because they couldn’t answer Phil’s question. “even if climate change is not happening, can we afford to take the chance? and can we use that as an excuse for not taking care of G-d’s earth?”



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Dharmashaiva

posted March 13, 2007 at 6:10 am


…and even if global warming is not real/not humanly caused/not-what-have-you, our civilization (cars, lights, life!) is totally dependent upon a non-renewable resource. Breaking that addiction, I’m afraid, will be too little, too late.



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 6:24 am


. Breaking that addiction, I’m afraid, will be too little, too late. Dharmashaiva Shoot your children and grand children, save them from a terrible life.At 66 I want to address the problems of today if those problems are going have an effect on my children or grand children. Notice I say “if”, if not what will it hurt to reduce pollution? No one addresses this simple question. When that can be defined then we can decide if we will pay the price.



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sushil_yadav

posted March 13, 2007 at 6:43 am


In response to your post about “caring for environment/ creation” I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of consumerism/ industrialization on our minds and environment. Please read. The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct. Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel. Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.If there are no gaps there is no emotion.Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.Emotion ends.Man becomes machine. A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety. Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself. To read the complete article please follow either of these links :PlanetSaveTheHolisticWheelsushil_yadav



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 13, 2007 at 12:49 pm


A slow society will always result in starvation, disease, and death. Did God create us to sit around and feel? No. He told us to imitate Him and be creative. Not just artistically, but productively. Your premise is totally wrong. The core of human nature cannot be altered except by the work of Christ. We do not become machine. Mark, Excellent points. The chicken is not going extinct. Why not? Because somebody owns the chickens. Only when the public owns a good, and holds it in common, does it become subject to neglect. City parks are always more littered than Disney World. butch, Were you being sarcastic?



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Donny

posted March 13, 2007 at 2:00 pm


If I recycle my plastic and aluminum does that mean I have to agree with the heresy that Is Liberal/Progressive theology? I won’t poach deer or eat a lot of meat. But still the Gospel is unaltered. Why do you Progressives think that it means I want to encourage others to embrace high taxes, abortion and same-sex marriage if I want clean air and water? Can’t I agree with you on trash without trashing the Bible too? I feeel like a fly to the Progressive spider. And Global Warming is a religious (Gaia) myth.Just for the record.



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jesse

posted March 13, 2007 at 4:22 pm


Butch, Do you not see risk in regulations provoked by alarmism that significantly hinders development and economic growth in third-world countries and in the West? Poor people need jobs, too.Some interesting aspects of the film were its discussion of natural emitters of greenhouse gases. Volcanoes and animals emit far more CO2 than anything man-made. Shouldn’t we be talking much more about vegetarianism than SUVs and alternative energy?



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Gina

posted March 13, 2007 at 6:50 pm


i really like this article.christian said (up at the top) “Your example of Noah misses the mark because in that story God is the one who is threatening the earth with extinction, not man.” well, but GOD did that b/c of man. man had disobeyed and GOD allowed distructive forces in order to reign man back in. we are supposed to be stewards, i cant help but think that GOD will not be pleased with what we did with his gifts.



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AustinT

posted March 13, 2007 at 7:41 pm


“The chicken is not going extinct. Why not? Because somebody owns the chickens.” -jurisnaturalist I agree with you here. But, I fear what will happen if this is brought to its logical conclusion. People won’t own every animal…so should we just give up on those aren’t being commercialized and privatized? Should we allow those beautiful species that aren’t contributing anything to the economy and that can’t be privatized to go extinct?



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 9:02 pm


Some interesting aspects of the film were its discussion of natural emitters of greenhouse gases. Volcanoes and animals emit far more CO2 than anything man-made. Shouldn’t we be talking much more about vegetarianism than SUVs and alternative energy? jesse We should be talking about all of it and making decisions about each part. We eat meat that requires a lot grain; grain production requires disturbing the soil, which releases CO2. Since we have little if any control of volcanoes then that is off the list, vegetarians actually reduce CO2. “Do you not see risk in regulations provoked by alarmism” We need to address each situation individually on its own merit. Alarmism is usually bad and ignoring a problem is the other end, where is the middle? Bad arguments Jesse!



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Payshun

posted March 13, 2007 at 9:22 pm


Donny, The real myth is whether you know grace at all. Somehow I find that more truthful than anything you have to say on the subject (of grace, global warming or much of anything.) I am glad to hear you love Gaia enough to recycle. Maybe there is hope for you yet.You must believe in a pretty weak bible if you think that progressive ideology “trashes it.” One last thing you are more like flea on the back of the dog. Your annoying and easy to scratch.be blessed. p



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 9:52 pm


Pay, do you notice I never address Donny, the level of anger cannot be addressed with reason, facts, etc.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted March 13, 2007 at 9:57 pm


Very revealing that all (except Donny’s) posts have been about saving the eart, going green, climate change, etc. so little (i.e. NONE AT ALL) talk of the reasons Dobson wrote his missive – so that he and his followers can get back to the “real” debate” – namely abortion and homosexuality. Dobson says too much time, energy and effort was being expended on the “wrong” debate”. Why won’t you folks just start talking about what “really matters” to the RRR (like Donny’s post-droppings) the way Dobson WANTS you too. For shame, talkin’ about saving the earth, when there’s fags to belittle.



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butch

posted March 13, 2007 at 10:40 pm


Curiouser, it seems to me there is a disconnect between Dobson, et al and sojourners so why bring them into the discussion. Who cares what they do or think if it is so far from the sojo agenda. A line from one my favorite sermons; “Tell me what you believe in, I have enough doubts of my own”. I keep asking Phil’s question; “what will it hurt to reduce pollution?”



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Wolverine

posted March 13, 2007 at 11:02 pm


Butch, You’re missing a key point when you repeat the question “what will it hurt to reduce pollution?”. I think we all want to see pollution limited, but there are a wide range of pollutants out there, with a wide range of effects. Not all of them contribute to global warming, but they might harm lungs, trigger cancer, cause genetic damage, or damage brain tissue. Now if we turn our economy upside-down over the theory of global warming, and the theory turns out to be false or exaggerated, there will be people dying or suffering from other pollutants who might not have had to, but the pollution problem that plagued them got shoved to the back burner because we were preoccupied with “carbon footprints”. As good stewards of creation we have to set priorities and make decisions. And those decisions should be made on complete information. Information that we don’t necessarily have yet. Wolverine



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Payshun

posted March 13, 2007 at 11:17 pm


Wolverine, what exactly are you missing? What’s your smoking gun?when I read scientific reports they say that global warming is happening because human beings are screwing w/ the environment. Should it be a priority?Yes. Kids need clean air, a less consumerist attitude and ethic, a desire for selflessness and in general more love. I don’t understand conservative reticence on the subject. i just don’t get it. p



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HASH(0x117e8c1c)

posted March 13, 2007 at 11:38 pm


We need to address each situation individually on its own merit. Alarmism is usually bad and ignoring a problem is the other end, where is the middle?” Ah, now you’re talking, butch. That is the middle. Look, I understand that many people (myself included) feel that Dobson and Co. are way off the mark and guilty of saying some terribly hurtful things, often resorting to using personal insults in trying to make their points. But that doesn’t excuse those of us who disagree with or are offended by them to resort to the same tactics. Besides, it’s non-productive. There is an awful lot of anger evident on this (and many other blogs). Why? Do insults and patronizing remarks convince anyone to change their minds? That’s the problem I have with Brian’s and Jim’s articles on this subject (and a couple of others, by the way). I’ve heard Brian speak numerous times and read most of his books as well as Mr. Wallis’. Besides their ability to see what many others have missed, they both come across as being respectful, thoughtful and humble. Their books never harangue or ridicule. So why do they drop the bar a notch or two when addrssing this issue? Dobson refuses to even consider environmental issues because he seems to have succumbed to the idea that it is merely a front for some sort of anti-christian left-wing conspiracy aimed at pulling the world under a blanket of sin. Absurd.Yet, I wonder how many people on the opposite side of this argument have slipped into the same mindset; anyone who disagrees with their enviro-economic ideas are either materialistic opportunists with only their own self interest at heart or just one of many unwitting dupes. So, if my first exposure to the concept of man-made climate change had been on this thread (or a similar one) how likely would I consider it be the product of thoughtful and impartial examination? Or might there have been a chance that I would come away with the idea that many of it’s proponents have more than a few political and social axes to grind? Brian’s books are all about the emerging ‘conversation’ taking place within the Church today. Isn’t this topic worthy of conversation as well?



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butch

posted March 14, 2007 at 12:52 am


You’re missing a key point when you repeat the question “what will it hurt to reduce pollution?”. I think we all want to see pollution limited, but there are a wide range of pollutants out there, with a wide range of effects.” Wolv No, you finally get the point, you agree that we should be doing something, WHAT?, specifically. Wolv “Now if we turn our economy upside-down over the theory of global warming, and the theory turns out to be false or exaggerated” Who besides you is talking about “turning the economy upside-down”? Talking in these global terms stops or interferes with work beginning.



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butch

posted March 14, 2007 at 12:57 am


As good stewards of creation we have to set priorities and make decisions. And those decisions should be made on complete information. Information that we don’t necessarily have yet. Wolverine We have a lot of information and we will never get everything. Decisions need to be made on every piece of information one at a time. You are globally fearful of others global fear, get down to earth and do something or support something being done.



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Mark P

posted March 14, 2007 at 1:17 am


Gina well, but GOD did that b/c of man. man had disobeyed and GOD allowed distructive forces in order to reign man back in. -So we backed God into a corner?so should we just give up on those aren’t being commercialized and privatized? Should we allow those beautiful species that aren’t contributing anything to the economy and that can’t be privatized to go extinct? -It s not an easy question. There will certainly be species that cannot be commercialized I don t have an easy answer, and I don t think we ve found it yet the current endangered species act is a disaster that creates a moral hazard, encouraging individuals to destroy friendly habitats and kill the species when possible. — Butch: Alarmism is usually bad and ignoring a problem is the other end, where is the middle? -Well stated.Pay, do you notice I never address Donny, the level of anger cannot be addressed with reason, facts, etc. -Agreed. “what will it hurt to reduce pollution?” -I bet if we killed 90% of people/animals, bulldozed cities, planted trees instead, and returned to hunter-gatherer society, we d reduce pollution, yes? What will it hurt? -Of course the above is absurd, but the (hyperbolic) point is that this issue does not exist in a vacuum. There are too many factors to address to rush into this or employ Keynesian fixes.Who besides you is talking about “turning the economy upside-down”? -Very few, because everybody has swallowed the GDP/aggregate good macroeconomic monstrosity.Decisions need to be made on every piece of information one at a time. -I agree, and I do think (as I ve said before) that the conservative fatal flaw is an unwillingness to act decisively but I do think some decisions are big enough to delay. Like how to respond to global warning. — Pay: Kids need clean air, a less consumerist attitude and ethic, a desire for selflessness and in general more love. -Agreed, and that will only happen through more Christ, if you will.I don’t understand conservative reticence on the subject. -It s about methods and priority. I personally believe that the 1.3 million killed a year is priority #1 (note: I do NOT think gay marriage is issue #2 at all, and [full disclosure] voted against the marriage amendment in Arizona this last election to the chagrin of a number of fellow conservatives).



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Payshun

posted March 14, 2007 at 1:45 am


Mark P 1.-It s about methods and priority. I personally believe that the 1.3 million killed a year is priority #1 (note: I do NOT think gay marriage is issue #2 at all, and [full disclosure] voted against the marriage amendment in Arizona this last election to the chagrin of a number of fellow conservatives). Well I can see how abortion would be that for you. I can’t stop that from happening but I can focus on doing more to help our stay on this planet. Contrary to some of the more hysterical elements of my side I know the planet will survive w/o man. The problem is that man cannot live w/o the planet. We need the earth and we should do more to stabilize our existence here instead of worrying about “abortions” we are powerless to stop. Unless you have some secret way to get into clinics and stop women from having them. If you have that please tell. I want to priotorize the kids that are already here now. They need more from all of us than what they are getting. p



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Mark P

posted March 14, 2007 at 3:39 am


P “Unless you have some secret way to get into clinics and stop women from having them. If you have that please tell.” -It’s called transforming the hearts and minds of a nation. -Again, the slave trade was far more entrenched in British society in the 18th century than abortion in 21st century American society. Had Wilberforce given up (facing odds far less promising than ours) slavery might not ever have been abolished in England. There is nothing to suggest that it was inevitable, as some seem to argue. -I understand your feelings of helplessness, and I’ve felt despair and complacency before… But my God is too big for that. I will not give up. I do not believe in a powerless God, and I do not believe in One who will allow injustice forever. “For there is One Lawgiver and Judge, One Who is able to save and destroy…” “I want to priotorize the kids that are already here now.” -I understand your position, but there are thousands dying each day in America… 1.3 million will die in this nation this year. Tens of millions of my generation have died; I am a survivor. I will not pass that legacy on to my children and grandchildren; I will not watch them become survivors as their generation is annihilated.



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Payshun

posted March 14, 2007 at 7:15 pm


Mark, I can understand your point too. It’s not that I have given up but i know the kids that are here now and they need that same zeal and love right now. I don’t know when life begins and I am not for abortion but the innercities are dying, the poor around the world suffer, their are kids all around the world loosing limbs. I cannot sit idly by and allow that. I honestly think that should be a bigger focus than abortion. I know it pains me to live in a world where we don’t care enough to end the problems plaguing child soldiers, or that a child has to wake up scared because of abuse.I know that I can do more now to help save them while you can effectively do nothing to stop abortions from happening unless you meet w/ women that have them. I do that from time to time and I pray for men that suggested their mates have them… when you say you are a survivor how can that be? were you parents going to abort you? p



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Payshun

posted March 14, 2007 at 7:17 pm


Oh and don’t mistake pragmatism for complacency I understand that’s easy to do but my goal is to heal the broken and love the people that have them. I am not here to judge them. p



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted March 14, 2007 at 8:37 pm


butch, “it seems to me there is a disconnect between Dobson, et al and sojourners so why bring them into the discussion.” Um, the article is ABOUT Dobson. That’s why.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted March 14, 2007 at 8:40 pm


mark P, “note: I do NOT think gay marriage is issue #2 at all” Good for you. Too bad Mr. Dobson DOES. Along with Mr. Falsewell, et al.



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Carl Copas

posted March 15, 2007 at 12:00 am


Mark: “Again, the slave trade was far more entrenched in British society in the 18th century than abortion in 21st century American society.” Mark, I’m curious how you arrived at that statement.But I’m not sure it’s a good comparison. Some historians argue that by the 1820s slavery had become, for a variety of reasons, less profitable in large parts of the British empire. Thus, declining profitability helped to facilitate the antislavery movement. I don’t see a comparable development with respect to abortion in the US at the present time. As always, I’m impressed with the passion and Xtian spirit you display when you post on here. The exchange between you and Payshun on this particular thread is a model of what Sojo should be. Take care.



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Eric

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:58 am


I find that Brian McL is often thought-provoking; although his analogies/allegories are not always fully thought-out. This article is a good example on both counts. The problem with the Joseph parallel is not the storing up of food per se, but that in doing so, the Egyptians financially exploited and oppressed victims of the drought. Of course God made good out of a bad situation by using Joseph to help save the sons of Jacob but their offspring were later oppressed. In Sinai (Exodus 16:19-20) God warns the Israelites against storing food — presumably to keep the Israelites from repeating the same type of explotation used by their captors. (Ched Meyers has a wonderful 71 page booklet, The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics, which addresses this in more detail. We must be mindful of the same potential today. For example, are you aware that there are attempts to patent (read: own) plant seeds? Yes. Plant seeds. Included is an effort to make it unlawful to cultivate seeds from plants grown from these seeds. (See Karen Lehman and Al Krebs, “Control of the World’s Food Supply,” in Case Against the Global Econony, 129.) This doesn’t even scratch the surface of how big the problems are (though not unsolvable). Thanks, Brian, for opening the dialogue in this forum, but please use caution with the analogies.



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Payshun

posted March 15, 2007 at 2:44 am


Thank you Carl. p



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Kevin K (yet another Kevin)

posted March 15, 2007 at 10:49 pm


I believe that an understanding of what science is and what it isn’t may be important in this conversation. Science is based on hypotheses derived from observation for the most part and pragmatic. Nature is also pragmatic and operates on laws that we understand only dimly. However, it makes complete sense to use the hypotheses of the preponderence of the scientist community to inform our actions. We do so everyday in all other areas of our lives. Should it be any different with respect to environmental issues? If we allow some formulaic religious hocus pocus and political/consumerist agendas to obfuscate the reality of the environmental corner we’ve painted ourselves into, then we will deserve what we get. YOu want to really get depressed about the state of things…read the well-documented book, “The Upside of Down” by Thomas Homer-Dixon. Then let’s all roll up our sleeves and demand change from our lethargic leaders.



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Christian Beyer

posted March 16, 2007 at 4:31 am


“However, it makes complete sense to use the hypotheses of the preponderence of the scientist community to inform our actions.” It does? Why? “We do so everyday in all other areas of our lives” And that proves your point? Take a look around and see where other forms of hegemony have gotten us.



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Kevin K (yet another Kevin)

posted March 16, 2007 at 6:22 pm


Christian, Perhaps I was unclear. I am not suggesting that the science community is immune to political influence. Hardly. However, we use science, if conducted in traditional scientific methodology to weigh in on our decisions, as well as provide us with innovative solutions to problems and new products. Some of this has undoubtedly contributed to the consumerism-on-steroids that infects our culture. However, at some level, I believe that we have to make choices based on some credible evidences. The issue of global warming is such an issue. We don’t need to go too far to see the how we have misused our resources and soiled our nest. With the inevitability of the resource demands of developing countries, it is not much of a stretch to see how this will have a multiplier effect on the degradation of the world’s ecosystems. Wild-eyed panic won’t help, but we need to begin making changes in our behavior soon to avoid what many are warning us about. If we bury our heads in the sand or start making accusations of political pandering, etc, we may just procrastinate long enough to pass a point of no return. That would be a tragic legacy to leave our children. Will there be a high cost to pay? You bet. Will there be some who will pay disproportionately? Yes, if we allow it. Whether we like it or not, the world is now faced with no other choice but to come together. This is the challenge of our time. We can no longer be isolationist, nor hegemonic. That tortoise has gone over the hill. This is what the emerging church conversation is all about, and I firmly believe that is the way of Jesus. Let’s all get to freakin’ work!



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Christian Beyer

posted March 17, 2007 at 5:53 am


No, you make a good case, Kevin K, and I agree with just about all that you say up until your entreaty for us all to get to work.If ‘work’ means figuring out what this mess means and developing a broad based conssenus for a long term game plan that doesn’t generate short term crisises then I am all for it. If ‘work’ mean passing innumerable laws without really thinking them through (like the CAFE standards or California’s new emisssion standard policies) then I say “Hold on there, Babaluie! Let’s get some more information first.”



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litbrit

posted March 19, 2007 at 8:21 pm


Re: the Simpsons, a family friend who is a well-known author got wind that she was going to be parodied by the show, so she offered to do the voice, as did a few other authors. Shakes is right: better to play along! Much, much better. I am reminded of what South Park did to Isaac Hayes Cheffy character. I don’t think there is anything they didn’t inflict on him in revenge for his kowtowing to Scientology and criticizing them for the Tom Cruise/Scientology episode six months after the fact (and long after Hayes had cashed SP’s check). He was shot, burned, ripped apart by wild animals, and all that after being implicated in an international child-molestation ring…to say South Park do not pull punches is a bloody understatement. Phillip, I had not heard that Sagan story. I liked the man and his philosophies overall, but yeah, what an ego! Great tale.



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Kevin K (yet another Kevin)

posted March 19, 2007 at 8:37 pm


Christian, I completely agree. It will require much thought, compassion and purpose. By “work”, I mean there are many things we can do now to reduce (simplify) our consumption of finite resources. We must act. We mustn’t let our efforts to be stalled into active procrastination or allow our intentions to get “stalled ad nauseum in committee.”



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