Archive for March, 2012

Ecological Sustainability

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Environment
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Arguments from Scripture – NOT

 The church has a historical reliance on acting out what it believes is God’s Will. The expression of God’s Will is articulated in the scriptures revealed over thousands of years to the people willing to listen and to grow in their understanding and world view. Today, we find many people who no longer find scripture to be compelling. Many find the concept of God, as the church tells us, is revealed in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. They find the explanation of the origination of sin a concept from a mythical story in the Garden of Eden superstitious. As a mythical story, they find the necessity of the death of Jesus a strange explanation for redemption or even the need for redemption.

Into these ears, then, ecological sustainability presented as based on God’s Will makes no sense. Surely, it is not God’s Will that every one on the planet die. Was the human race just a grand experiment? No, they do not see the rationale for caring for the planet, creating a sustainable world based in scripture and to do so marginalizes the advocates. They look the same as those who advocate that God, who created everything, hates gay people, thinks it is ok to enslave people, is opposed to contraception. They want no part of that God and further, would prefer not to have to do anything with those who propose they speak for God because of their scriptures, the word of God.

Religious people, Christians to be specific should not attempt to argue for a sustainable world based on some interpretation of scripture no matter how confident they are that this is the basis for a sustainable world. Rather,we should adopt a more rational appeal, one based on appeals to the human value of self-interest and immortality, the immortality achieved by our surviving progeny. Whether or not one believes in an afterlife; whether or not we believe it is a “heaven” or a “hell”, we all prefer to postpone that experience in preference for the certainty of the life we have over the uncertainty of a possible life to come. We all find that adrenaline surge when frightened or threatened, that human experience of fear. And, if we are indeed God’s creatures, then this is a naturally endowed aspect of this life, a preference for not dying prematurely and perhaps not at all.

So, even the religious appeal for care for this planet on which we live should be based on the God-given characteristics of being the human creatures we are, not on some scriptural interpretation of words written long before sustainability was even a consideration on the distant horizon. We want to engage all humanity in a concern for the survivability of the human race. We want all humanity to be engaged in living as though survivability depended on them individually. This is not a Christian issue uniquely, not even a religious issue uniquely, but a fundamental necessity for every human alive today, even those with short-term pleasure as more important than the well-being of their progeny.

Why Organize?

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Organizing
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Most of us are familiar with the Tug of War game played with a big rope. Two teams are set at either end. A flag on the rope between them and either a line on the ground or perhaps a body of water or mud puddle below the flag, in the middle. Can you picture that in your mind? Have you ever played in this game? Lots of fun and a good metaphor to understand why we organize.

So imagine life as a kind of multiple Tug of War games. On one side are all of the market forces pulling on the other end of the rope. The referee is the government who establishes the rules, what is allowed, how it is enforced, and who declares the winner of each game. And why do you play the game at all? Because the market provides you with messages and goods you want and need, you have no choice but to play.

Here is the problem. The market players are giants. They have no moral compass that wants to play fare. The market forces are principally interested in profit, something necessary to keep them providing us with the things we want and need. They have no reservations in getting the rules of the game set up to favor their objective of pulling you and your resources to meet their need for profit. The more the better. They are big. You are just one person. If it is you against them, you have little chance of winning the game.

However, there are more people than there are marketers. The only way to achieve a balance in this game is to enlist more people to pull on your end. Since you can vote, but the market can’t, you can change the rule makers to make the game more balanced. But you can do this only if you are part of a organized effort to have organizations you belong helping to pull and educate people about fairness. The pulling in this metaphor represents the constant tension that exists between your organized efforts and those of the market. You don’t have a chance alone. You don’t have a chance with drop-in and drop-out partners. Your only chance is with continuing organized effort.


Please read the first part of this two part blog.  Star Dust

First a couple of facts (as opposed to beliefs).  No one can prove there is a GOD.  It is also true that no one can prove there is NOT a GOD.  Yes, I know there are those who claim to have “experienced” the presence of what they BELIEVE (with all their hearts) was God.  They can cite the difference in their lives as evidence of the experience, but they can’t give you the experience they had.  Unfortunately, we are all isolated creatures, capable of communication, but that communication, at its very best, can only communicate an approximate facsimile of the experience, not proof.  Enough of that, my position should be clear.

Yet, I have the experience of God every day. When I think about the implication of being star dust (see Star Dust blog) I see there is some underlying force of nature that allows, indeed fosters the creation of elements that in all their richness have the capacity to form into organized structures.  Obviously they organize into stars.  We have learned that exploding stars broadcast higher level elements.  We have learned that these tend to “gravitate” toward each other and under the influence of greater and greater collections, form planets.  We have come to understand that if these planets are just the right distance from the galaxy center and just the right distance from a supporting star, and rotate just the right amount, they are capable of collecting liquid water.  When there is liquid water, we have learned elements can collect in the presence of solar and planet heat, form collections capable of replicating themselves with the ultimate outcome of becoming what we call living systems, interdependent on the environment that supported their development.

I call this a Life Force, a fundamental structure, created in the big bang which has resulted in living systems that can exchange information, learn, grow, and come to understand, at least at some primitive level, the very system that created them.  So, to me, I see this Life Force as the embodiment of what people call God.  I have found, in my own spiritual practices with people in a liberal protestant setting, that I can share in worship understanding what some people see as an external reality they call their God by mentally substituting my understanding of this grand, magnificent Life Force.  As I pray, I understand that I seek to complement, not work against this Life Force.  I feel morally responsible to sustain the capabilities of this planet.  I celebrate the scientific discoveries that inform our understanding of our place in the universe all the way down to my own family dynamics.  When I see a beautiful sunset or peaceful lake, or snow on the tree branches, I can celebrate the fact that I have been given the chance to experience this Life Force personally.

And I also can feel anger and even rage when I see actions that through ignorance or selfishness lead to thwarting this Life Force in the here and now.  I get frustrated when people ignore this Life Force and seek their own personal pleasure and gain at the expense of others.  In other words, my moral capacity is not diminished by this understanding and the fact that this Life Force has a cycle that will one day deny my ability to participate.  It is the kingdom of god here and now that we are all given by this undeserved gift of life.  How will be respond?  Will we resist or conspire to support the Life Force for all of life’s creation and creatures?