Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spitting in the Face of the Creator

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If you don't know the name of Bill McKibben it sure isn't because I haven't told you about him. Over the years I've written several blog entries about McKibben, one of America's leading climate change activists and a thought-provoking writer of books and articles for more than 30 years.

In a recent interview he is prompted to talk about his Christian faith. I knew that he had been a Sunday School teacher along the way, and that he wrote a book about the biblical book of Job. I hadn't been aware that his family lived in Canada for five years and he attended a United Church Sunday School as a child. So that's where it all went wrong!

McKibben admits that the Sunday School classes he taught involved a lot of hiking and they celebrated the Feast of St. Francis with pet blessing, even though they were Methodists. In the Salt Lake Tribune interview he answers a number of faith related questions

Q • When you speak at climate marches or political rallies we don’t hear this Bible talk much. Since some of those best-versed in the Bible are among those most skeptical of climate change, why not talk this way more often?

A • I do when it’s with people who can hear it. I like talking to these audiences. Not long ago I went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for several lectures. I enjoyed it and it went well. I try to do that sort of thing when I can. But for many Americans, even those who spend time in church, it’s not always that useful to be referencing Job. Even a fair number of American Christians probably aren’t all that well versed in the Bible.

Q • Do you think if we were more biblically literate as a society we would be better caretakers of the planet?

A • Maybe, but I don’t know. I haven’t noticed any great correlation. I’m afraid if you look around, it’s often people who are least likely to be engaged with the church or a synagogue or a mosque who are often standing up for creation. And a lot of people have tried to use the Bible to figure out rationalization for doing what we’re doing to heat up the planet, kill of species and whatever else.

Q • You have occasionally been likened to a prophet, the bearer of a message about the fate of the Earth. Do you think of yourself as one in any way?

A • I am not a prophet. I have never vouchsafed any particular message from the Lord. I do my best to read the signs of the times, and in our day and age it often means listening hard to what scientists have to tell us.
Despite his denial of prophetic credentials his insistence that we pay attention to those signs is a faithfulness which reminds me of the biblical prophets. He says that humans have become big enough to spit in God's face -- and we are. Now it's up to us to decide how high the waves will go and how many storms we'll endure.
I'm glad McKibben is out there, even if he makes us uncomfortable. I hope we pay attention.

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