Bill Moyers has written a powerful polemic, "Welcome to Doomsday", which describes chillingly well the antagonistic relationship between the evangelicalism of the American Christian Right variety and environmentalism.
He begins by bemoaning:
...the fact that the delusional is no longer marginal but has come in from the fringe to influence the seats of power. We are witnessing today a coupling of ideology and theology that threatens our ability to meet the growing ecological crisis. Theology asserts propositions that need not be proven true, while ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The combination can make it impossible for a democracy to fashion real-world solutions to otherwise intractable challenges.
Moyers uses the term "political religion", which is apt, because that's what the Christian Right has successfully done -- the fusing of ideology and theology -- and it reflects the disturbing trend of the blurring between the hard fought separation between the state and religion. Europeans lost lot of blood over this issue over many centuries; they assumed the rest of the world had learned from its' lessons on bended knee, which was clearly not realistic. But the last people they thought would loose their way was America, because America was perceived as being the leader of leading ideas for the future rather than a propagator of throw-back memes of the past, something that Europe can no longer take for granted. So not understanding the complexities of the American state of mind, many in Europe have concluded that the US has simply lost its' mind.
The follow passage also summarizes what Paul Hawken was alluding to in this talk, the Long Green which I wrote about, when he distinguished between the voluntary stay behinds -- the people who like and love this place called planet earth and want to improve and protect it for future generations -- and "The Rapture" folks who are worried about being left behind. It's the ancient St. Augustinian tension between the City of God and City of Man all over again:
You can understand why people in the grip of such fantasies cannot be expecte to worry about the environment. As Glenn Scherer writes in his report for the on-lin environmental magazine Grist, why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine, and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture? Why bother to convert to alternative sources of energy and reduce dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East? Anyway, until Christ does return, the Lord will provide. Why bother to convert to alternative sources of energy and reduce dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East? Anyway, until Christ does return, the Lord will provide.
This essay raises a level of urgency in my mind; namely, it puts more pressure and a premium on coming up with better memes that out compete these clearly maladaptive ones. So we've got work to do! The good news is that we're doing it. I hope that's enough.Posted by nicole at March 30, 2005 09:39 PM