Heaven and Earth Bear Witness

As usual, the political divisions over various issues do not match the division between a Scriptural understanding and an idolatrous one. In this case, it’s the division between “conservatives” and “liberals”–or, better, between the rabid Republican and the rabid Democrat–on climate change (what an anodyne, meaningless phrase) and other, related environmental issues. You know it’s a disease because any response is immediately knee-jerking, fist-pumping, and unthinking.

But Christians ought not to be caught up in the extreme partisanship of what seems to be America’s twilight years. There is enough foolishness on either side to make any so-called “discussion” an exercise in engaging a fool according to his folly (Proverbs 26:4, not 26:5). When it comes to human responsibility for the volatility of the climate (and similar issues), too many Christians have been sucked into either viewing extreme weather as the moral challenge of our time, an issue of Biblical proportions; or into an involuntary muscle spasm of  mockery and denial.

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Faith Deformed

[This first appeared at The Jagged Word on June 29.]

I knew this was going to happen. I knew that if a movie was hyped over and over, time and again, as being an incredible, profound meditation on faith and doubt, that it was unlikely to be anything of the sort. If someone has left or been scarred by Christianity, or an American Fundamentalist version of it; if someone is quick to say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”; or if someone is fully convinced that what the Church should do is take up the apocalyptic cause du jour, then that person is the perfect candidate to be over-impressed with Paul Schrader’s First Reformed.

I don’t mean that those aren’t authentic responses to a real emotional and intellectual experience of viewing this film. But if you don’t find yourself resonating with one or more of those categories, you might well wonder if you’ve completely missed the point of the film. Is there an additional scene after the credits? Did I miss the profundity? Am I too stupid to understand the basic elements of serious film and thereby misunderstand Schrader’s intentions? The last two might, of course, be true. But the simpler answer is probably more accurate: It’s an attempt to be profound about religion, faith, and doubt, without actually achieving it.

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How Long Until Children Become a Liability?

I don’t mean the money you pay to have them or raise them; I don’t mean the time and energy you expend to give them what they need, especially when it goes against your own desires or dreams; I mean, very literally, when will it be a tax liability to have the children whom God gives?  Read this article at Salvo by Robin Phillips. 

Dr. Barry Walters, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Western Australia, argued a few years ago that those who refuse to use contraception should be levied with a climate-change tax. In a 2007 article in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr. Walters proposed that such a tax be assessed on all couples having more than two children. He suggested an initial fine of $5,000 for each “extra” child when born, with another $800 assessed every year thereafter. However, parents could redeem themselves by using contraceptives or undergoing sterilization procedures, for which they would receive carbon credits.

Okay, that’s Australia.  But you have to know there are people pushing for similar things in the United States.  People who admire China’s one-child policy, though China has the most carbon dioxide emissions in the world. 

Inverting the Christian redemption story, the new religion of science sees mankind as the curse, and scientists as the prophets pointing out the path of redemption. Like the prophets of old, the modern scientist-prophets know that salvation can never occur without sacrifice. The sacrifice they are calling for is simple: We must become fewer and poorer. Only then will the world will be saved from the environmental Armageddon that is fast approaching as a result of “reckless breeding” (a term employed by Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger).

As Chesterton said,

The Birth-Controller does not bother about all these things, for the perfectly simple reason that it is not such people that he wants to control. What he wants to control is the populace, and he practically says so. He always insists that a workman has no right to have so many children, or that a slum is perilous because it is producing so many children. The question he dreads is “Why has not the workman a better wage? Why has not the slum family a better house?” His way of escaping from it is to suggest, not a larger house but a smaller family. The landlord or the employer says in his hearty and handsome fashion: “You really cannot expect me to deprive myself of my money. But I will make a sacrifice, I will deprive myself of your children.” [“Social Reform versus Birth Control,” http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Social_Reform_B.C.html]

When, in “The Christmas Carol,” Scrooge refers to the surplus population, the Spirit tells him, very justly, not to speak till he knows what the surplus is and where it is. The implication is severe but sound. When a group of superciliously benevolent economists look down into the abyss for the surplus population, assuredly there is only one answer that should be given to them; and that is to say, “If there is a surplus, you are a surplus.” And if anyone were ever cut off, they would be. If the barricades went up in our streets and the poor became masters, I think the priests would escape, I fear the gentlemen would; but I believe the gutters would be simply running with the blood of philanthropists. [Charles Dickens, Part II, chapter VII http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/CD-2.html]

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Some Links

Here’s LifeNews on “Issues.” And make sure you don’t miss Augsburg 1530, which seems to be the clearinghouse for all things “Issues.”

Still nothing from the Post-Dispatch, at least online, even though the Religion editor told me that they were “on it.”

And is it just me, or are environmentalists getting stupider ideas all the time? “Earth Hour”? Are you joking? My favorite part of the story was:

The number of participants was not immediately available, but organizers were hoping to beat last year’s debut, when 2.2 million people and more than 2,000 businesses shut off lights and appliances, resulting in a 10.2 percent reduction in carbon emissions during that hour.

Seriously? A whole 10.2 percent! Sorry; whom did that help? And, by the way, when did the World Wrestling Federation get into stopping carbon emissions?

Finally, I commend to you the Reverend Joel Brondos’ blog. We were comrades on the old World Mag Blog site, and he’s still got great stuff. Wish I had found his (relatively) new blog before this.

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You, Out of the Gene Pool!

Sarah Irving and Toni Vernelli are two women who feel that having children is selfish and bad for the environment. (Here‘s a longer story from the Daily Mail.) They are like every other fanatical extremist who populates the lunatic fringe. They want sacrifice, but they want it from other people. In this case, they’re happy to sacrifice the lives of their children for the sake of their stupid cause. If they think people are bad for the environment, why didn’t they go first and off themselves? That would have killed (no pun intended) two birds with one stone: it would have saved us their idiot commentary and the murders of two children.

My favorite unintended (I think) irony of the story is this:

The environmental advocate also sees having children as an egotistical act. ‘Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,’ Vernelli told the Mail, adding she believes bringing new life into the world only adds to the problem.

Well, yeah, that’s what I thought when my wife conceived. Obviously.

It’s so great that they’re completely unselfish in their childless lifestyle:

Toni says: “After the operation, which is irreversible, I didn’t feel emotional – just relieved.

“I’ve never doubted that I made the right decision. Ed and I married in September 2002, and have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children.

“We love walking and hiking, and we often go away for weekends.

“Every year, we also take a nice holiday – we’ve just come back from South Africa.

“We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless, thereby greatly reducing our carbon footprint and combating over-population.”

Yeah, children really drag you down.

At least one positive was gained: they’re both now sterile. ” But while other young women dream of marriage and babies, Toni was convinced it was her duty not to have a child.” It is unfortunate, however, that Toni’s parents did not consider their “duty” to the environment before she “came of age” (by which, of course, I mean “born”).

[Vernelli said:] “Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population.”

What about all the people living now? In fact, now that I think of it, these women are polluting my environment. Where’s my gun? Surely they won’t object to me reducing their carbon footprint all the way to zero. Actually, maybe we can construct some sort of “chamber” that produces “gases,” which “solve” the problem of “unwanted” people and anyone else who gets in the way of “nature.” Toni, want to be first to try it out?

The Reverend House’s commentary can be found here, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

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