Thursday, July 30, 2009

homecoming

I've been back in the lovely, green, humid, southeastern US for almost 48 hours at this point. (Belize is also lovely, green and humid, but that's beside the point).
Pictures have been more or less sorted through and posted on Facebook.
I've seen a few photos and a video of the beautiful daughter of a friend who was born while I was out of the country.
Have caught up with Nick Kristof's column....lots of writing about women's issues in Pakistan the past few weeks. He is my hero and inspiration as always.
There is food in my kitchen now, and clothes have been washed, and bills paid. And I've re-entered the world of phone calls in the wee hours of the morning.
I can't talk coherently about Belize yet. There are a total of 27 pages scrawled in my journal from that time...which isn't excessive, but does indicate that a great deal of observation and thinking happened.

Some very exciting ideas for where to take this independent study project....but all dependent on someone having actually done the research I'm interested in at this point. Time to start literature searches...this is when a PhD would be nice. Just the ability to say "It is important to know this for this reason and I'm going to do my best to convince other people of its importance so we can have time and money to actually find out." Maybe more on this later....I'll just say that my adviser, who is a health studies PhD and faculty affiliate for the women's studies program here, will absolutely love where I'm going with this.

Having just spent two paragraphs rambling aimlessly about being back in the US, and not saying anything traveling-related, I'm going to take the liberty of transcribing a couple bits from the India pages of my journal. Perhaps more for my own sake for later contemplation and connections... At some point, I will return to coherence and decent writing.

*************************
The earth lifts her dry throat to heaven-
She screams for mercy;
Creation groans in expectation
frustrated by Adam's race.
We who bow to stone and wood,
coins and kingdoms.

We who look to skies
darkened by our blindness.
Helpless, unable to open eyes
too weak for truth.
A whisper, a footstep
faintly hear the Savior's sigh.

Saliva, mixing, making mud
over the darkness we claim light.
vision given by the blood
treasure pillaged, lives destroyed
by the violent healing of redemption's flood.

*********************
The land waits in darkness
colors faded, shadows reign.
Chaos. Smog. Noise. Dirt.
Voices crying for what they know not.

The light of the world, in whom there is no darkness.
True light from true light
Begotten, not made.

Sent into the world, He sent
the smaller lights.
Cities on a hill.
Islands in a black sea.
And the light spreads.

Silence rises in the cacophany of a shattered world.
Peace, be still.
Let your light shine.
It will spread.

Calling forth the sunrise, the stars, the rainbow, the singing.
A new day begins.
But we must weep before it dawns.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Stewardship?

Possibly the most infuriating thing about my time at [small liberal arts Christian college] was the flippancy towards the natural world we lived in. There were lectures in which I was told "the world was built for catastrophe and God's not going to let us destroy it", and my personal favorite was the chapel service in which Relatively Well Known Theologian claimed that people concerned about the environment were "Foolish, Faithless, and Fearful" because "Air pollution is actually a picture of the Resurrection. Living organisms died and became fossil fuels, which we burn and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which encourages the growth of plants. It's life coming from death"

That's a statement I cannot repeat without literally shaking in rage. I live in a state where it's unsafe to eat fish from many of our rivers and streams because of mercury deposits from coal plants. That doesn't sound like Resurrection, Redemption, or any other variation on that theme to me.

I don't understand the hostility towards environmentalists that's so pervasive in the Christian subculture. Is this tied to Texas oil? That's quite a leap of logic....but there are lots of conservative evangelicals in Texas, and lots of oil.

And in all honesty, the conservative evangelicals mocking environmentalists are only one piece of the problem. It's the part of the problem that makes me most angry, because of Genesis 1. God created the world, said that it was good, and handed it over to man to rule...as children of God, shouldn't our desire be for the world to continue to be good? Romans 8, especially verses 20- 22 comes to mind also (For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.). I'm tired of Christians who tell me "the world was built for catastrophe, God is sovereign and will not let us destroy it." Well, that may be so, but God has let us conduct countless wars and genocides, develop the atom bomb, exploit child laborers....He may not allow us to exterminate all of creation, but I'd rather not try to find the limits of His permission.

We've become so dependent on oil- a nonrenewable resource that is quickly running out (the current estimate is about another 40 years), and coal, which is procured by tearing apart our mountains, never mind the damage to our lungs, plants, fish caused by burning it. Oil and its byproducts runoff into our streams, disrupting wildlife... careless use of hormonal birth control has produced hermaphroditic fish, and there's so much more.

And while the open antagonism of a handful of people irritates me, the real problem is the apathy of the majority. There aren't many ways to disrupt apathy. Human beings aren't moved by rational, logical explanations of threats. Nicholas Kristof has written two recent columns on why people do not respond to environmental threats and why they fail to react to humanitarian concerns. He's remarkably insightful as always. I think what it comes down to is that we know the Fall through our emotions and we understand Evil because of how we react to its presence. Our logical minds are of little help here. While a story about a single child starving, or one snapshot of a bird smothered in oil just seems emotionally manipulative and contrived to me, we are wired to care about specifics.

I don't want to emotionally manipulate people, but I do want to make them aware of realities around the world. The line between the two is a lot less distinct than I wish it were. Unfortunately, there is no 12-step guide to breaking people out of their comfort zone.