Treading Earth Softly

Christianity Today reports that prominent Religious Right leaders are calling for the resignation of the vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Why might this be? Has he committed some deception or sin like former NAE president Ted Haggard? Has he fallen away from the faith? Has he made some prejudicial remark to offend? No, none of thee things. This group of leaders believes that vice president Richard Cizik cares too much about the environment and global warming. (Jim Wallis at the God's Politics blog has thoughts on the matter)

The evidence is in, Al Gore made a movie, and it is completely widely accepted that global warming is happening, and it's the fault, at least mostly, of humans. I'm not going to cite source after source, because the sources are not hard to find. So why is this a spiritual issue? We know God cares for the world, every sparrow, all the animals listed in Job that he watches over... but it is our job?
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Genesis 2:15)

"You must keep my decrees and my laws.... And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you." (Leviticus 18:26, 28)

"The land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and garner their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord.... The land is to have a year of rest." (Leviticus 25:2-5; cf. Exodus 23:10-11)

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land." (Leviticus 25:23-24)

"You shall not pollute the land in which you live.... You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites." (Numbers 35:33-34)

"If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?" (Deuteronomy 20:19)

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:22)

"Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The LORD almighty has declared in my hearing: 'Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine, a homer of seed only an ephah of grain.'" (Isaiah 5:8-10) - I had never seen this verse before, but I guess God foreknew that the suburbs would someday be built...

Verses taken from EarthCare

Some Christians believe Jesus is coming back very soon, so the earth is ours to 'use up', and there is no imperative to take care of it, because it will 'pass away' very soon. The prevailing view among evangelicals, however, is fueled by these verses. We must be good stewards of what God gives us, be it spiritual gifts, material possessions, money, family members, or the earth and its resources.

So what does our household do, given this spiritual imperative? What are practical first steps to shrink our carbon footprint and tread more softly on this earth? (Incidentally, many of these aren't only good environmental practices, they're frugal, too!)

What we do now:
  • Transportation - This is the easiest for us. We chose to live very close to where I work, and not far from where Josh works. I drive just a mile to work and, when it gets warmer, I hope to walk or ride my bike when the weather's good. We both drive cars that get an average of 30 mpg.

  • Electricity - We do the obvious. We turn out lights when not home or not using them. We turn off the computer when not in use, for the most part.

  • Heat - This winter, rather than relying on the furnace to heat our apartment, we purchased an oil-filled heater, which seems much more efficient than the furnace (based on our electric bill, anyway.) I did my research to find the safest option out there, and this was it. We're big fans.

  • Shopping - We try to do as much grocery shopping as possible at ALDI, an international grocery store chain with 3 locations relatively nearby. ALDI doesn't provide shopping bags free, so we make a point to re-use grocery bags, reducing waste.

  • Food - Making things from scratch reduces packaging waste, processing, and transportation related to pre-packaged convenience foods. Beyond canned goods and the occasional frozen pizza, I've gotten pretty good about cooking. Lunches are another issue- we both pack our lunches to take to work, and in re-useable containers as often as practical. This reduces the packaging waste from the alternative- a fast-food lunch.

What we'd LIKE to do:
  • Transportation - I'd LOVE a Prius, but that's just be dreaming :) I'd like to walk/ride my bike as transportation more often, as I said earlier.

  • Electricity - There's more we could do. The newest rage are those energy-saving compact florescent light bulbs, which we'll talk about moving to, when the need comes up. When looking for a house, we'll take into account energy consumption needs, as well as location (to avoid driving an excessive amount to work every day.)

  • Recycling - This is the obvious one that is conspicuously missing from the above list. Our apartment complex doesn't offer it, which is a huge bummer. Hopefully wherever we live next will. At work, it is expected that you recycle your cans, and I do, which makes me feel really funny about throwing them away at home.

  • Food - We cold be more conscious about shopping. I've been reading a lot about eating locally and eating in-season to cut down on the energy costs that go into producing, transporting, and preserving the food we buy. Currently, we don't take these things into consideration. In the long run, when we get a house, we've talked very seriously about having a big garden of things we like to eat, to eat REALLY locally- from our backyard.

I'm sure there's WAY more we could do. I feel like these are little ways we're fulfilling the stewardship requirement God puts on us. What do you think of "creation care"? What do you do to be a good steward?


beth said...

Our apartment doesn't do recycling either, but we found a recycling place that's on our way to church and bible study so it's really convenient to drop our recyclables off twice a week. Maybe you have one near you, too? It's worth looking into!

Ashley said...

I read an interesting blog post this morning that stated something about not believing in both environmentalism and God at the same time. I don't know if I necessarily agree, but it was a different perspective...

Joanna said...

Saying that you can't both believe in God an care about ending global warming is like saying you can't believe in God and care about ending global poverty. It'd be a more interesting blog post if she had backed up her & Rush's belief on the subject with logical argument or biblical backing.

"Surely God would not create this planet and all of humanity, just to have us destroy it with our modern conveniences (which He gave us the knowledge and tools to create)." That is an interesting observation, but then couldn't it also be said, 'Surely God would not create all of humanity, just to have us destroy each other with our modern technology in war (which He gave us the knowledge and tools to create).' but war is still a sad reality that we can work to stop.

bfine107 said...

I think your doing some great things! I would encourage you to collect your recycling at home and bring it to a recycling center or your work.

mrs.burke said...

We take our recycling to the county drop off once every couple of weeks, corresponding with our Aldi trek. It's over by the county fairground. They take glass, metal, plastic, cardboard, and paper.

I think you already know about what we do with food. I'd love to do more, and get all survivalist and have a root cellar and stuff. (Our existing ScaryCellar is too warm for food storage because all the furnace ductwork is down there.)

Another thing we do is compost! Especially when you eat a lot of vegetables & fruit, you can have quite the pile. Living in an apartment would make this more of a challenge, but my sister
on her balcony. In our climate you'd have to bring the bins inside in the winter, but there are those who claim it doesn't stink.

Electricity: We were going to embark on an insulation-adding project last summer, but me lying around puking kept us from doing that. But we try to keep the temperature in the house cold (or warm) depending on the season. With allergies I can only do that to a point.

When you can't recycle, reuse: Buying used clothing, used cars, and used houses is an overlooked but I think obvious way to reduce your impact on the environment. IT keeps all those things from having to be manufactured again. We do that.

Other stuff:

- Cloth diapers (when we're at home)

- We try to use the library & buy a PLAC card instead of acquiring more books

-Last year we did "buy nothing Christmas" (buynothingchristmas.org) and it was awesome. We'll do it again.

- We don't treat the lawn- we do mow it though. Lawn chemicals are a big contributor to waterway pollution.

Stuff I'd like to do in the future:

- Have a windmill and/or solar panels for household electricity

- Plant more native plants- maybe have an entire yard that did not require mowing more than once a year

- Grow more food, maybe even in a greenhouse or in hoophouses

- Use livestock for their fertilizer-creating capabilities

You can see that I'm running into "things I can't do because of zoning regulations" and that's one reason we hope to move out to a more rural area.


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