All of my life my environment has been quite stable. There have been small wars, but none of them have been where I live; none of them have affected me in a significant way. The economy has been relatively stable. I have just lived through the longest sustained economic growth period of the twentieth century. Until recently things were only getting bigger and better: McMansions sprouting up here and there; multiplying bathrooms, bathrooms turning into marble temples with tubs the size of beds; economy cars being replaced by SUVs, SUVs becoming bigger and bulkier until we have the ultimate Hummer, no wait...the strrrrrretch Hummer; air travel becoming common place with people zipping off to here and there at the drop of a hat, for a weekend to visit family and friends, see the show or ski the slope.
I live in a city that has escaped much of the drama that has affected other regions. We don't have significant earthquakes. We're out of the range of hurricanes. We get too much rain to worry about forest fires or significant droughts. We haven't had any oil spills. No buildings bombed. Our city has doubled or tripled the number of tall buildings with the definition of tall doubling or tripling in height. Minimum wage has gone up, taxes have gone up, public services have gone up. Teacher strikes are about as exciting as it gets for protests. Drama is what I read about in history books, not what I live, not what is happening around me. Drama is what happens on TV.
With life just getting better and better why should I believe in global warming? Why should a few scientists cause me any concern? Because I happened to have a grandfather who loved history and science. Because I happened to have a grandfather who live through the Great Depression and the Second World War. He thought carefully about the events he lived through. He did research about what led up to such catastrophes. And he taught that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And so I learned my history and my science.
I learned how people in the 1920s believed that life was just going to get better and better. They ignored the signs of economic slow down and continued to leverage their futures in hopes of a better tomorrow. And then one day reality set in and people began to panic. Trust was gone and each one tried to grabbed what they could, causing the whole system to collapse. Over night my poor farmer great grandparents lost all their life savings. The money that had been collected for my grandparent's school yearbook was gone, leaving the students to cobble together a homegrown scrapbook of memories.
My grandfather loved to tell me stories of the German depression and run away inflation. How people had to go to stores with wheelbarrows of money in order to buy anything. How wives would pick up their husbands' paychecks each day and cash them and go shopping before his wages became worthless. How one fellow survived because he was able to redeem his clutter of old bottles for cash, but his neat, clean neighbors who regularly threw out their trash went destitute. I think it was his way of reminding himself that the hardships he endured were not as bad as what others had.
Because my grandfather grew up on a farm, he always had something to eat. Because his parents didn't believe in debt, he always had a roof over his head. His family worked hard and didn't have much, but they stayed together. Grandfather would tell me the story of how the French survived because of their farms. How the French had experienced war after war and so they depended on their farms. When times were good, they would go to the city and work and bring home some extra cash. But they always kept their farm so that in time of crisis they had a roof over their head and food on the table.
Probably the first history book I ever learned from was the Bible. When I visited my grandfather, we would have family devotions. As a little child I learned the story of Noah. How people were bad and God sent a big flood to cleanse the earth. How Noah was good and obeyed God, built an ark, and so was saved to live another day. How the destruction was quick and greater than anyone had imagined.
When I got a little older, my grandfather read to me about Pompeii. This beautiful Roman town near Mt Vesuvius. One day people saw smoke coming from the mountain. There were a few tremors, but nothing that caused the people to leave their homes. And then in the space of a few hours the whole city was covered in ash. Only a handful of survivors made it out alive. A historical adventure story was followed by a Bible story. Like the story of Lot, a man living in a wicked city whom God sends angels to get him to leave his home before it is covered in burning sulfur. Lot escapes with only two of his daughters because the rest of his family doesn't believe that destruction is coming and his wife looks back to the city. And then one day on TV, Mt St Helen begins to smoke. A couple days later we get pictures of the mountain blowing apart and ash covering the countryside. One minute a beautiful nature preserve, the next a wasteland.
Destruction, I learned, could come with very little warning. Only those who knew the signs would be able to escape. Only those who obeyed God, who lived according to his principles, would survive.
Going to school I learned about science. In science I learned how people make observations and try and use those observations to predict the future. I learned how people created situations to test their predictions. I learned how people created new instruments with which to make observations and test their predictions; telescopes, microscopes, and stethoscopes; ohm meters, ammeters,and thermometers; clocks, scales, and gieger counters; wind tunnels, atomic accelerators, computer modeling. Every new experiment led to better understanding of how nature worked. Every new experiment led to new and interesting questions. The amount we could know about a topic kept expanding the more detailed our inquiry.
I learned the universe is very old and during its history, abrupt destruction happens periodically. Stars explode into super nova. Asteroids hit the earth causing extinctions. Weather can turn abruptly cold freezing mammoths and mastodons so quickly and permanently that thousands of years later hungry dogs will eat their meat. I learned about Krakatoa blowing a whole island apart; about people swept away when tsunamis lay bare the ocean floor inviting speculation; and earthquakes breaking off the shore of Alaska.
I learned about gravity and lemmings falling off cliffs to destruction below. How Malthus predicted overpopulation and the how foxes and hares go through cycles of population boom and bust. I watched on Nova programs how the cycle of drought and rain affect prey and predator.
I learned how heavy water can become an exploding bomb that wipes out whole cities if it is concentrated enough to start a chain reaction. How noise reverberating in the mountains can start snow cascading down the slopes smothering homes in an avalanche. How if you bring a highly charged rod close enough to a grounded one, electricity will arc across the gap just like lightening striking the earth.
And I learned about global warming. Global warming wasn't a new discovery, but it was one that scientists were beginning to apply the tools of the trade into exploring what the future would hold. And what they were learning wasn't good. What they learned was that warming the planet could have some disastrous consequences; consequences that could quickly destroy the world as we know it.
But unlike news reporters, scientists are a cautious lot. Rarely do they claim the sky is falling. If you want to know if the projectile that is coming towards you will hit you, they will observe the arc of the projectile, look at their clocks, measure the wind speed, and get out their calculators punch in the numbers and tell you that the chance you will get hit is fifty percent plus or minus two feet. Scientists need to get funding to survive the next year so they come up with more questions to solve. What is the projectile made of: feathers, or lead, or some other material we've never encountered? How much damage could it do? How big of hole will it create? Would your position be within the hole's radius? How much damage would you experience from the expulsion of material from the hole? What's the likely hood another projectile will come this way? And in the mean time while scientists are figuring all this out if you haven't moved, the chances you will get squashed by the incoming what-ever-it-is become greater and greater.
Maybe I've read about too many catastrophes, but I really don't need to know all the gory details about what possibly could be. If it's a catastrophe, I want to be well out of the way of the danger. I don't want to depend on angels showing up to drag me out of impending doom. If it's a catastrophe I can stop or mitigate, I want to do something. Like the story my grandfather told me of the Dutch boy who noticed a leak in the dam. First he plugged the hole with his finger, then two fingers. As the hole became larger his fist, then arm, then finally his whole body. In the end someone noticed his heroic deed, rescued him, patched the hole and the whole town was saved from drowning.
Left unchecked global warming will drown millions of people in storms, hundreds of millions of homes in sea level rise, and leave billions of people homeless and jobless. Left unchecked global warming will destroy thousands of ecosystems and millions of species. Plagues will abound, earthquakes become more frequent, and deserts will become larger. Animals will starve; people will starve. The earth might even get turned upside down -it's happened before, it can happen again.
Scientists have predicted the future well enough for me to know that I don't want to put any more carbon in the atmosphere. I will walk if I have to, and grow my own food, but I don't want to do any more damage. If you will join me, we can learn how to be sustainable together. Together we will be two fingers plugging a hole in a dike. If everyone joins in we can patch this climate and save the earth from destruction. And for that my grandfather would be proud.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
In all cultures, the building of temples are an imitation of a heavenly temple. In the beginning of Genesis God is making the earth his temple. Genesis 1 uses temple dedication language to talk about God making the earth. http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/bible-science/6-02watts.html http://www.amazon.com/Lost-World-Genesis-One-Cosmology/dp/0830837043 As the story of Adam and Eve progresses, we observe language and features that are later used when God instructs Moses to build the tabernacle in the dessert. These same forms are reiterated again in John's vision of heaven in Revelations. http://www.askelm.com/temple/t040301.htm
In the Old Testament, the temple had several section: the courtyard of the gentiles, an inner courtyard for Israelites, the holy place that only priests could enter, and the holy of holies that only the high priest on the day of atonement could enter. The world in the beginning of Genesis was divided similarly: the earth in general was the land of Nod or wandering, the land of Eden where Cain and Able lived, the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve originally lived, and the midst of the garden where there was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Adam and Eve's sin forced them out of the holy parts of God's temple. Cain's sin forced him out of the main temple area. But God invites us back into his presence through the sacrifice of his son. He re-ordains us to become priests of his temple.
In the Old Testament, the Jews are the mediators between God and the rest of the world. In the New Testament, those who follow Jesus, the priest of priests, are the mediators to the world. In the New Testament we see a shift away from the formal laws that define worship in the man made temple to the transcendent laws that are written on our hearts. (Jer 31:33, Heb 8:10) In the Old Testament, the ark was where the laws were kept. The ark was placed under the mercy seat or footstool of God. Isaiah refers to the earth as the footstool of God. (Is 66:1) Our hearts are the ark for God's laws.
Food was a central part of temple worship. In all cultures food was offered to their gods. In the Old Testament animals were sacrificed to God and bread, oil and wine were also offered. In the New Testament Jesus institutes the Eucharist. Pagans believed that proper worship of gods helped to guarantee success of crops. Fertility rites were an integral part of their temple worship. Prostitution was often part of the fertility rites.
God does not want us to go through rituals to try and manipulate him into providing for us. He does not want us to prostitute ourselves. He wants us to trust him and the provision he has already given us through creation. He puts his Spirit in our hearts to guide us in how we care for creation. Our bodies become the temple of the Lord or in other words God's holy of holies. (1 Cor 6:12-20) The holy of holies resides within the holy space. Our bodies live in homes and churches. Our homes and churches live in countries. Our counties reside on the earth. The earth is the foundation for the physical temple of God.
Jesus told a parable of the wise man and the foolish man. (Mt 7:24-27, Lk 6: 46-49) One built his house on the rock, the other on sand. Jesus said that if we followed his teachings we were building on a firm foundation like the wise man. Jesus teachings were for us to love. He showed us a spirit which will lay down its life for others. When we love others and we love the earth, we are building a firm foundation. When we hurt others and destroy the earth, we are destroying the foundations of the temple of God. We become like the foolish man and when disaster strikes we will be swept away.