Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bus Fare or an Indictment

Not much news in the world today. No juicy indictments. All that may be changing is my own perspective...

Sunday evening a piece by Michael Janofsky in the NYTimes reported that some evangelical Christians are in the process of publicly calling for the american government to take steps to curb the degradation of the environment. In particular, their declaration, still in draft, would call for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions...a domestic Kyoto accord if you will. It is more than a splinter movement.

Just as has he has downplayed or outright denied every other inconvenient bit of reality, Sen. Inhofe, who arrogates that he speaks for the "vast majority of evangelical groups", discounts this development of yet another constituency for the environment as "very strange", and based on a misquotation of scriptures. His ignorance, to put this as kindly and euphemisticaly as I can bare, has exactly the impact of grave and menacing evil. Inhofe's in league with anyone who prefer's profits to a healthy climate. Struggling to keep up the impression that he draws power from a monolith of theocratic crackpots, this pernicious poser links resistance to environmental protection in with resistance to gay rights and abortions. Shame on the man, shame on the people who voted for him. He has not only done the environment a damaging disservice, he has in effect portrayed all evangelicals as being of one mind, having one program of blindness to facts in deference to an industry-friendly assertion of how god wants us to vote. But the worst thing he has done is play up to the moral laziness of all the interested factions, both those he claims to represent and those he opposes: he exacerbates everyone's tendency not to see the people on the other side of the argument as people and not to see any diversity of sources for their point of view. I was guilty of not knowing that there are, though for reasons I may not subscribe to, growing numbers of Christian fundamentalists who have come to an understanding of human responsibility for the environment that is, in practical effect, much like my own. I can't blame Inhofe for my ignorance, only for capitalizing on my and other's ignorance.

I do not share any part of C. S. Lewis' theology but I think his take on the devil as willful exploitation of the weaknesses people don't even notice in themselves is an apt metaphore.

The devil feeds on stereotypes.

The group Inhofe is trying to pronounce into insignificance is the National Evangelical Association.
He said the National Evangelical Association had been "led down a liberal path" by environmentalists and others who have convinced the group that issues like poverty and the environment are worth their efforts

It is more than a splinter movement. Evangelical concerns for environment have a record of political action going back to at least 1996. It has been part of a growing consciousness on the part of Evangelicals that if our world is physically any less healthful and delightful than the garden of eden it is because humans have abused and neglected it in contradiction of scripture. I am familiar with the genesis verses they point to as proof text. Liberal Jews cite exactly the same genesis verses as proof text for including environmental activism in their definition of "Tikkun Olam" [literally "repairing the world", more vague than some commandments but having no less force].

For his backing Inhofe is confined to ICES. I went to their site and read a bit.
ICES chartered itself around a "truth" it already accepted and only had to find enough mealymouthed reactionaries to write up the "proof". They have nothing more to say than god is in his heaven and all is right with the world if you don't listen to those damned liberal ecology kooks:
"Soon, they [ICES essayists] will provide a credible alternative to liberal environmental advocacy for people in congregations, schools, government, and the religious and secular media."

Janofsky however finds a hint that current thinking inside ICES may have moved past the published denial of environmental problems to the acceptance tacit in questions of what to do about the problem:
A member of the original group's advisory committee, Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies moral issues and public policy, said more recent disputes among conservatives over global warming focused not on the science behind it but on ways to address it.
When he has no leg left to stand on, perhaps Inhofe can rest on his tail.

Not that there is cause for wild euphoria. No hugs and champagne exchanged between the Sierra Club and the NEA who are quoted in the article as still seeing each other as working for the right effect but the wrong reason or with unknown impact.

I can't afford to be so doctrinaire. Another bozo has gotten on the environmental bus and I am not one to ask them to sit at the back. The bus is pulling away with Bush, Inhofe and such like standing on the curb to hail their stretch Hummer limo.

For me at least, the Janofsky article is an indictment of sorts. Inhofe is charged with shamelessly playing the religion card. I knew that. But the faithul, struggling toward that realizaiton, can liberate the good in church-going folk from the evil of political power grabbing by conservative and wealthy corporations. If nothing else, its another data point that prys me loose from my harmful habit of seeing religous conservatives and political lackies of the big businesses as one monolithic block of evil.

While I cannot see others as they are, I can't help them.
When I can see why I wanted to see them as they are not, I can help everyone.

POSTLOG: I see Andrew Sullivan has his usual conflicted notions on display. He thinks of calls for environmental protection legislation as "big goverment" interference. No Andrew, it is NOT a convergence of left and right who want big government. It is a belated recognition that could occur to any person who was not allergic to basic geophysics observations: we are cooking our own planet and neither self interest nor corporate greed can be harnessed to get us out of the mess they have got us into. When you have made up your mind whether you want a government that does less [for the environment] or a government that does more [to buy you a tamiflu shot], come make a comment here...I can't comment on your dish.

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