Friday, May 23, 2008

The crowded worship at the Church of Green

America's mea maxima culpa

Jonah Goldberg has penned a thoughtful piece called "Church of Green: America's Mea Maxima Culpa." In it, he confronts the rampant mysticism in the environmentalist movement here in America. He prophetically details environmentalism as a kind of religion. Or, to quote Glenn Reynolds, "A substitute therefor without the troubling discerning-God's-will-and-following-it part."

Jonah's words are worth hearing:

I admit it: I’m no environmentalist. But I like to think I’m something of a conservationist. No doubt for millions of Americans this is a distinction without a difference, as the two words are usually used interchangeably. But they’re different things, and the country would be better off if we sharpened the distinctions between both word and concept.

At its core, environmentalism is a kind of nature worship. It’s a holistic ideology, shot through with religious sentiment. “If you look carefully,” author Michael Crichton observed, “you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.”

Environmentalism’s most renewable resources are fear, guilt, and moral bullying. Its worldview casts man as a sinful creature who, through the pursuit of forbidden knowledge, abandoned our Edenic past. John Muir, who laid the philosophical foundations of modern environmentalism, described humans as “selfish, conceited creatures.” Salvation comes from shedding our sins, rejecting our addictions (to oil, consumerism, etc.) and demonstrating an all-encompassing love of Mother Earth. Quoth Al Gore: “The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”


Environmentalists insist that their movement is a secular one. But using the word “secular” no more makes you secular than using the word “Christian” automatically means you behave like a Christian. Pioneering green lawyer Joseph Sax describes environmentalists as “secular prophets, preaching a message of secular salvation.” Gore, too, has been dubbed a “prophet.” A green-themed California hotel provides Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” next to the Bible and a Buddhist tome.

Whether or not it’s adopted the trappings of religion, my biggest beef with environmentalism is how comfortably irrational it is. It touts ritual over reality, symbolism over substance, while claiming to be so much more rational and scientific than those silly sky-God worshipers and deranged oil addicts.

It often seems that displaying faith in the green cause is more important than advancing the green cause. The U.S. government just put polar bears on the threatened species list because climate change is shrinking the Arctic ice where they live. Never mind that polar bears are in fact thriving — their numbers have quadrupled in the last 50 years. Never mind that full implementation of the Kyoto protocols on greenhouse gases would save exactly one polar bear, according to Danish social scientist Bjørn Lomborg, author of the book Cool It!

Yet 300 to 500 polar bears could be saved every year, Lomborg says, if there were a ban on hunting them. What’s cheaper — trillions to trim carbon emissions, or a push for a ban on polar bear hunting?

Plastic grocery bags are being banned, even though they require less energy to make and recycle than paper ones. The country is being forced to subscribe to a modern version of transubstantiation, whereby corn is miraculously transformed into sinless energy even as it does worse damage than oil.

Conservation, which shares roots and meaning with conservatism, stands athwart this mass hysteria. Yes, conservationism can have a religious element as well, but that stems from the biblical injunction to be a good steward of the Earth, rather than a worshiper of it. But stewardship involves economics, not mysticism...

Thoughtful words. Read it all, here.

This is a reflection of easy morality. Such doctrine allows the follower a guilt-assuaging code where he or she feels a sense of moral well-being because s/he is obeying the culturally inculcated mores regarding green doctrine; and yet, at the same time the tenor of the life is in rebellion against divine Law. In buying off their inner moral compass with replacement morality, they are deadened to actual moral relation to God. Relation to earth has replaced relation to Creator of earth; they can live as practical enemies of God [the person] because they now relate to a cultural concept of god -- a force, a spirit, an idea, but certainly not a Holy Person, pre-existent Creator.

It is part of a long war of rejection of the transcendent, holy Deity in favor of an immanent, manageable one -- one easily structured to our earthly and sexual desires. It's no accident that the ancient goddess worship that God judged so vehemently [in fact, He commanded that no prayers should be prayed for those involved in such destructive behavior, cf. Jer. 7:15] linked the sacraments of earth and sex: the ones who worshiped thus were just doing their duty for the environment! And it felt so good. So moral and intuitive and pleasurable!

So easily manipulated to fallen human desires: the Church of Green has been in operation for a long time. And it always ends offering its children to Molech in the name of earth-good.

I believe in conservation but I cannot believe in environmentalism, because I believe in God.


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