Monday, September 27, 2010

The New Spiritual Work

Pastor John Shuck has posted another of his amazing sermons. One of these days Mr. Beale and I will make the long trek to Elizabethton (perhaps in my new all-electric vehicle) to hear him preach.

Here’s a taste, but do go and read the whole thing:
As a globalized industrial society we are going to be letting go of a way of living that extracts and exploits and destroys our home. At some point we will let it go. It is happening now. We will be relating to Earth and to one another in a new way. We are needing to learn to live with Earth rather than against it. It will be better for us if we are pro-active and conscious about it, rather than just letting it happen.


Those of us with conscience, those of us who see the need for systemic change have our work cut out for us. All of us need to be involved in peace and sustainability movements at many different levels based on our own sense of what we want to do and can do.

Whether we are taking on mountain top removal mining, or supporting local food growers, finding ways to help ourselves and others reduce consumption, or learning and teaching about what life will be like post-peak oil, now is the time to see this work as spiritual work.

Growing a garden is a subversive, spiritual act.

Not everyone can do that.

Not everything is for everyone.

We find our own way.

I’ve said this before, like a thousand gazillion times, but this idea that we all have to live in tents and churn our own butter to save the world is not just unrealistic, it’s not accurate. On top of which, it’s intellectually dishonest, since it’s the favorite argument of right wingers whose true agenda is to make sure we don’t change anything at all! So no, you people who think it’s so cute to point fingers at Al Gore’s electric bill, your argument amounts to nothing.

We can’t all do everything but we can each of us do something. It’s just as simple as that. If you want to ride around on a bicycle and live as a freegan in a zero-emmissions tent, that is great! Good for you. But the rest of the world is not going to join you in that endeavor. That is reality. And the thing is, they don’t need to. A tremendous impact could be had if everyone just did one thing. And it’s not going to be the same thing for everyone. Not everyone can plant a garden, but I bet everyone can close the blinds on their windows in the summer to keep the heat out. Or turn the thermostat down (or up, depending on the season). You get my drift here.

If you’re a legislator, you can start by initiating policies that encourage green technologies, such as this one. As Pastor Shuck says:

As Americans, we consume 18-20 million barrels of oil each day.

We extract 6-8 million barrels.

We need to import 10-14 million barrels.


We are five percent of the population and we consume 25% of the world's oil.

You don't keep up that level of disparity without massive bullying. I don’t say that to intentionally offend. I'm just calling it as I see it. That is why we spend more on our military than the next 20 or so nations combined.

We all have a part to play in changing that. The empire is going to be overturned, whether you take part in it or not -- some day the dead dinosaurs will have fueled their last generator and it will no longer be cost effective to devote our military to protecting the oil empire. My sense is that day is coming sooner than anyone expected.

On Sunday Tom Friedman wrote:

In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

Friedman is right that our national priorities are supremely messed up. We’d prefer to fight wars and spend our grandchildren’s future on a massive military build-up in the Middle East to protect our access to oil. This is incredibly stupid, and the joke’s on us, since we financed all of this with the Chinese credit card. What fools we are. China has played a massive game of “gotcha” with America, letting us go off to sink our treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan and -- next up, Iran! -- while they are quietly getting off the oil tit.

But Friedman is wrong, because change is happening -- even (and most tellingly) in places where you’d think it doesn’t need to.

So we still have time to change our ways. And we are. Everyone can do something. One thing.

Whether you’re a suburban housewife deciding what to feed the family for dinner or city councilman or United States Senator or a book author, everyone can do one thing.

And that is all it’s going to take.