Thursday, November 17, 2011


The knee-jerk reaction to recycling or the environmental movement among many Christians (myself included) is to discount it as yet another Liberal banditry to gain control of money and minds. The money of adults and the minds of children in general. However it is a good idea to look at both sides of an issue and make a decision based not on the political ideology you personally espouse but on facts.  And it is wise to construct in your mind how you'd go about discussing it with someone who has an opposite view from yourself.  Perhaps you will never be called to talk about it (and that might be all to the good) but you will be ahead in the game if your ready. 

Here is my breakdown of the two thoughts, I recognize they are oversimplifications so feel free to weigh in with your view. 

The Environmentalist see a world where garbage is piling up and we are a nation of wasters. They see the wanton destruction of land and animals as deeply disturbing and horrifying, and they have taken measures to prevent it. 

The Opposition (do they have a name?) sees a world where people live and that creates garbage and it is not criminal to do so. They see the pushing of boundaries of nature as a normal expanse of human existence and animals must give way to people. They (at least I) see the earth as being held together by God, and it isn't really in the power of humans to destroy it irrevocably. However He did leave this earth to us and we are it's stewards. 

Each side has valid points and they need to hear each other out, even if in the end you still don't agree, being courteous never hurt anyone. And also it would help if both sides would admit their religious view point drives what they do and how they do it. We Christians need to see that for the Greeny this is their god (wither they admit it or no), this they need to protect and keep safe from all harm. Compassion must govern our actions, because if you are compassionate to someone they will respond to that and perhaps hear you out.  I can not argue the opposite thought but I can tell you how I see the issue and what I'd like to do about it. 

The world belongs to God, He sustains it and holds it together, but He gave it to us and we are it's stewards. Which means we use it wisely and in a loving manner, a loving manner for humans as well as animals. You do NOT just take away someone's livelihood just because it offends your sense of how nature should be used, this is ugly and unjust. But neither do you hunt and kill a species into extinction or strip log a mountain into a barren wasteland. On the flip side it isn't good for nature to be left unattended and unused, a well tended forest produces a bountiful harvest of trees, however in one left alone disease grows, bugs destroy and a fire can decimate thousands of acres. An animal species reintroduced without a natural predator quickly starts to overrun other species and in the case of the wolf in the Inland Northwest, decimate the deer and elk population. There are checks and balances in nature and whether they like it or not, one of them is people. And it isn't wrong that we are checking and balancing. 

Yesterday my brother's Swiss girlfriend (the Swiss are known for their extreme recycling) what I thought of the issue. Our family does not, in the traditional sense of the word, recycle; however in the older sense of the idea behind recycling, we are pretty good at it. We buy in bulk (less packaging), shop at thrift stores, wash out and reuse our plastic bags, yogurt containers and other items with lids. Can our own food in glass jars that never get thrown away, compost (off and on), buy used cars and heat using a sustainable resource (trees) which we get off our own property from the standing dead wood. My Mother and Grandpa are the Queen and King at fixing broken things so we don't have to throw them away or finding a new use for items that are no longer able to function. We garden (with spotty success) and have owned free range chickens. But much of what we do is driven by thriftiness and hugely by our belief  in God. My Dad was teaching us the "Pack it in, pack it out" rule from a very young age, and it had even more to do with respect for other people then with respect for the earth. Because how could the next hiker enjoy the walk if at the end there was a pile of trash greeting them? 

So my love for God will drive me to continue to be thrifty, keep a clean, tidy house and yard. Be careful with my things, reuse, recycle and be respectful of others. If an attitude of respectfulness and thriftiness was taught to children I think that would go a long way to changing what is happening on the nature front. But using the resources isn't evil, I appreciate gas for my car and at the moment the electricity to power my computer and warm my house. I'm thankful that God thought to put such wonderful things on earth and in His wisdom made it so the earth can sustain an ever growing population. As well as creating us with thinking minds that are striving to find better ways of doing things, whether it is the new water boiler in my parents house that heats more efficiently or solar power which might replace other more traditional types of power. Humans have been given the ability to invent and we can change. But don't throw the baby out with the bath water, don't make it impossible for some people to survive just because you want to protect nature. Have compassion on them, nature is never more important then humans.