Last week I had the great honor of officiating the wedding of an old friend down in New Orleans. It was a light-hearted and festive affair, and I enjoyed myself immensely.
However, as I was able to steal a few private moments for myself, I took great pains to look around and to listen.
I spoke with several of the locals of the recent events out in the Gulf of Mexico and I could sense the palpable tension behind their soft Cajun dialect and winsome smiles. I saw it in their eyes, they knew.
When the party was over, I turned my back to the darkening waters and returned home. As I ventured back to East Texas, I could not help but feel the hot breath of a “Pale Horse” galloping behind me.
Even now, as I write these words, a man-made fissure on the sea floor of the Gulf is billowing great plumes of petroleum that will wreak havoc upon the natural habitat and irrevocably transform the way of life for millions of residents along the coast.
Not only are the numerous living creatures and ecology endangered, but the way of life for everyone in the path of this great creeping blight. Economically, the tourism and seafood industries will see a sharp decline, and it is a shockwave that will continue to emanate outward.
I have heard some so-called experts opine that it will take a lifetime to recover, others predict the damage will be irreversible… that this will be a permanent stain upon the face of the earth.
As a resident of East Texas, an area which owes much of its own existence to the petroleum industry, I cannot help but wonder at the ramifications of this tragedy and how this will impact many of my friends and relatives whose subsistence are thus aligned. But there is a deeper concern of mine…
Our churches pray for the economy and for business to prosper, but are we doing so while also ignoring the writing on the wall?
It seems that issues of the environment and of renewable energy sources were considered political heresy and that mantras of “Drill, Baby, Drill” were being preached to the choir.
The ruling laissez-faire paradigm of our free-market system have entrusted these billion-dollar corporations license well beyond the scope of credulity. It is as morally absurd as to let the proverbial wolf guard the proverbial henhouse.
Surely, we as Christians would have a better insight into the human condition than this.
Our faith teaches us that man, when left to his own devices, is a confounded mess and must therefore be chastened by the Law before he can even be brought to an understanding of the mercies of Grace. No entity, irrespective of how it might stand to profit our households or nation, must be allowed to go unchecked.
Christians in this country can believe in “free market” while yet holding their market accountable, in the same manner that free speech is not allowed to run rampant without some manner of regulation.
In the broader Evangelical culture, the priority of conservation, environmentalism, and the long-term biological ramifications of our roaring capitalistic machine have been waved away as the alarmist prattling of fringe leftist “Chicken Littles” always ready to cry that the sky is falling.
But the chickens have come home to roost on the blackened shores of the Gulf.
What’s worse, this isn’t even the first such occurrence this year. Have we already forgotten how the “too big to fail” banks and moneylenders sent this nation spiraling into our current recession? What about the horrendous mine explosion that killed 29 coal miners in West Virginia?
Those that helm these corporations are not innocent little choirboys, who can be brought to heel with a stern talking-to, they are steely-eyed armies of warrior-merchants drilling blindly at depths a mile and more beneath the ocean surface. All while doing everything their powerful corporate lobby enables them to silence the clamor of environmental oversight necessary to protect human lives and preserve the vitality of the ecosystem.
Should not we, who lay claim to being “children of light” and profess to adore the Creator of this terrestrial sphere, be at the forefront of stewarding and caring for the billions of its residents?
When the natural environment is used up, unsustainable for future generations, cultures die. When regions like the Gulf are dead, when mountaintops are removed, when forests are razed with nothing left in their place, when animal populations disappear, and the land itself begins to die… cultures die, too.
…and what’s left in the place of these cultures and traditions is an individualism that is defined simply by the wanton appetites for sex, violence, and unrestrained avarice. That’s not “conservative” and it sure as hell ain’t Christian.
Let the free-market idol-worshippers bemoan another thousand-point plunge in the Dow Jones, while we demand justice from the robber-barons that would rape and pillage the landscape of divine Creation.
Sometimes God speaks to mankind in a still small voice, and sometimes He is the eye of the storm, but always is He calling us to a far higher purpose than our own base desires.
Right now, a part of our culture stands tenuously upon the precipice of a possible extinction. If you do not think so, I’m hear to tell you that it’s later than you think.
Now is the time for us to open our eyes and stop living our lives in doe-eyed isolation.
We are without excuse.