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Religious Ideology & The Environment

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Mistletoe Angel
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0 posted 03-07-2005 08:05 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

Is religious fanaticism encouraging the destruction of our environment?

Former host of weekly syndicated program "NOW!", Bill Moyers, fears this may be the case:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17852

Moyers argues in this latest article of how the most ideological Christians, who believe and interpret the Holy Word word by word, has come in to influence the seats of power, and the amalgamation of ideology and theology is distracting the public eye from our ecological and environmental issues.

One such thing Moyers notes out is this excerpt, written in the first book of the Bible, that he fears many Christians interpret as the human's right to dominate the Earth and have "dominion" or superiorty over all else:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

Moyers also quotes John Hagee, pastor of the 17,000- member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, where he is quoted in Barbara's Rossing's book "The Rapture Exposed" as saying:

"Mark it down, take it to heart, and comfort one another with these words. Doomsday is coming for the earth, for the nations, and for individuals, but those who have trusted in Jesus will not be present on earth to witness the dire time of tribulation."

Moyers argues Rossing basically is saying: "The world cannot be saved.", and Moyers goes on to argue because of these contagious ethics moving around, the faithful are relieved of concern for the environment, violence, and everything else except their personal salvation.

In saying that, Moyers goes on to point out the reluctance among those "relieved" of protecting the environment. He points out the understanding of Glenn Scherer in his report for the on-line environmental magazine Grist:


"Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine, and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture? Why bother to convert to alternative sources of energy and reduce dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East? Anyway, until Christ does return, the Lord will provide."

Moreover, Moyers learns that Scherer picked up a high school history book, America's Providential History, which is used in fundamentalist circles, where students are told the following:

"The secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie…that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." The Christian, however, "knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's Earth. While many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."

So, what does this mean to Moyers?

He argues it helps us recognize the administration's distrust of scientifical evidence, and their obsession with multinational corporations and lobbyists who consider our environment "ripe for the picking and a hard-core constituency of fundamentalists who regard the environment as fuel for the fire that is coming."

He notes out of these religious ideologists continuing to gain and seize control of the U.S Congress, the EPA and other once-strong environmental forces, with almost half (231 legislators) now backed by their ideologies, where "forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the most influential Christian Right advocacy groups. Not one includes the environment as one of their celebrated "moral values."

And because of this increasing grip, the ideological arm has been extended among Bush's agenda, which has been treated as a "mandate" and is encouraging measures including:

1) The re-writing of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts
2) The relaxing of pollution limits for the ozone and for automobiles.
3) The encouraging of corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public
4) The dropping of lawsuits against polluting coal-burning power plants
5) The drilling of oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge
6) A radical re-management of national forests, including increased permission of unrestricted logging and roads.


Finally, a saddened but somewhat hopeful Moyers, claims it may not be too late to bring the beauty of hochma, or "science of the heart" back to our nation, so environmental sensitivity can rejuvenate and we can preserve Mother Nature's canopy of life for our children and our children's children and beyond.

*

*

Did Moyers overexaggerate religion playing a role in environmental degradation in this article, or is he accurate here?

I'm feeling Moyers does make some strong points here, worthy of discussion. I myself believe that faith is an important thing to have in life, and a little religion in our lives is a quality thing to possess, but I just also believe it shouldn't mean we have to prepare for the end now, it should just come naturally; come when it comes, and we ought to be devoting our attention in protecting Mother Nature's canopy of life for our children and our children's children, for I feel in my heart if we, and our parents, and our grandparents, and their grandparents and beyond were blessed by the extraordinary beauty of our forests, oceans, skies, and all of God's other creations that are truly our relatives in spirit and complete the tapestry of life, we shouldn't rob future generations from preserving this beauty which we are all fascinated by.

Please note also this is indeed a very sensitive, controversial article so before you comment, please note I didn't start this topic as another cheap shot or indirect attack on Bush, attack on religion, etc. I'm just someone who is ultra-sensitive about the environment and preserving it, being virtually an amplified tree-hugger, and I just found this article interesting and just wanted to hear other opinions and takes on these thoughts, if you take heart in the environment as a major issue, etc.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton


"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa
JoshG
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1 posted 03-09-2005 11:53 AM       View Profile for JoshG   Email JoshG   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JoshG

In the detective world this theory would be described as very thin.  It is a very interesting flow of logic presented by Moyer, which does make some interesting points.  I disagree that having a faith in christianity leads you to be disconcerned with the earth.  He is simply taking a small piece of the Bible, quoting it and making it the resounding message of faith.  If you have faith you believe that God created the universe and thus have a great respect for it.  Many times I find great inspiration for faith by looking at the earth and its amazing functionality.  I feel that for his logic to be 100% he would need to do more research from the Bible and quote all the verse regarding the earth, tribulation, heaven and the creation.

If you really want to tie a motivation behind Bush's stance on the environment I think you would have to look at his agenda.  I would argue that it has nothing to do with his personal faith in God.  Only merily affected indirectly by the way he makes decisions based on his ethics and morals.  Priorities, what are the priorities of this presidency and how do the weight of affect change the order in which environmental policy is mandated.

It is an interesting article, but again I feel it is a thin stretch at the truth.  I am not 100% of Bush's environmental policies so I cannot debate the specifics of it.
Mistletoe Angel
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2 posted 03-09-2005 02:10 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



Hey Josh, thanks for your thoughts here!

I must admit I was pretty nervous myself when deciding to post this that some here would think of me posting this the wrong way in that I was taking a brutal anti-religious stance or just looking for an approach to attack Bush's policies and such.

Honestly, that's not what drove me to decide to post this. I did it because a majority of Americans (about 3 in 4) believe that preserving our environment is an important issue to them, and with the way logging continues to go on and with the Arctic Wildlife Refuge thing being considered, so many are utterly speechless, utterly hopeless, and have no clue what's encouraging this obsession of environmental degradation.

I have regularly watched "NOW!" each Friday because I find it to be one of the best shows to get a liberal perspective, like I watch Fox News to understand the right-wing perspective. I like what he's had to say a lot in the past, but I'm not someone whobelieves every word someone has to say just because he represents most of my interests.

Moyers makes some pretty bold assertions here that could storm up much controversy, I absolutely agree and I myself believe this ideology is merely one component of the possibilities that are harming our environment. Nevertheless, because I don't think most have thought of it from this perspective before, THAT'S why I shared this and found it worthy of discussion, whether you like Moyers or not.

I myself question Moyers here. I wonder if he's read Tony Campolo's book "How To Save The Earth Without Worshipping Nature." for example. That book reveals that there are tons of Christians who believe in being good stewards of the Earth, and do not interpret Genesis to mean that we as humans should just run roughshod over the environment.

I believe ideology can be dangerous if put on a fanatical fringe, I just am skeptical about how far this fringe has gone, and I don't believe it's fair to say Christians, in general, represent that sort of behavior. I'm a Christian and certainly don't believe that.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

ice
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3 posted 03-10-2005 06:58 AM       View Profile for ice   Email ice   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ice

Noah
This is an interesting thread, and very timely..

I was wondering why Fox news hated Moyers so much, as well as does the Falwell "moral majority" groups.

What I have found is that many strict followers of bible text have great skills at manipulating scripture to say what they want to hear...on this issue or any other that may come up.

If you look on the internet you can find opinions (Bible quotes that seem to prove their point of view)that seem to disprove the opinons of others on environmental, and every other issue.

So how does one decide who is right, which side to believe?

The reality of the situation , in my opinion, lies in what we see in front of us, and which leading (living thinkers we trust...

There are two ponts of view on this issue, at great odds with each other...

The six things you have mentioned about Bushes environmental policy are the tips of the icebergs that Moyers and the like say make the ocean of life dangerous.

But I don't really think that Bush's policy is based on religion, especially Christianity   in it's purest sense.

I am quite sure that his policies are based on the religion of greed, bolstered by short sighted thinking.

I have to go to work now, but will return and add more later.

Manaste________ice






Mistletoe Angel
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4 posted 03-10-2005 02:28 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



Hey Ford, thanks for joining in here!

Yeah, I myself have read the Bible often, and I still find myself just interpreting the text differently on some issues than religious scholars who appear on talk shows and address and discuss issues from the administration's point of view.

Gay marriage is one issue in particular I find these interpretations collide. I, myself, believe Jesus may never have advocated gay marriage in the Good Book, but He also didn't condemn it. And when I understand His philosophy deeper in what I read, I believe He wouldn't condemn any sort of coupling.

I don't know, I'm just a passionate believer in civil rights. Also my brother Larry is homosexual, and because I have always loved my brother so much, I have always wished for his happiness, and he has desires to marry Colin and I want them to be happy together. So I guess it's sentimental appeal in the family as well, but I believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all couples.

I didn't mean to digress here, but the point is I read the Bible too and I don't believe my interpretations are out of touch. I've found dozens of excerpts that depict Jesus as the characterization of non-violence, etc.

Look, I believe when Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:5) that we weren't told to be like salt. It's not being depicted as we're the salt that you sprinkle on the soil to make sure no flowers bloom, He means it like we're the salt that keeps meat from spoiling.

Anyway, I am proud this discussion even took off, as we just don't have enough fruitful discussions on the environment here.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

Alicat
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5 posted 03-10-2005 06:50 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Off topic a bit. Not sure what version you got there, Noah.  'You are the salt of the earth.' in Matthew is 5:13a (NIV).  Salt, at the time, was a precious commodity, primarily for preserving, but also for flavor and was very highly prized.  5:13 is also an admonition regarding ethical behavior.
quote:
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. (5:13b-c)

That, to this simple soul, means we should not only preserve our ethics, but also share our ethics to better flavor humanity.  That includes proper stewardship of the earth, i.e. not squandering resources for idle or temporary gain.
Mistletoe Angel
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6 posted 03-10-2005 07:31 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel



Hey, thanks for clarifying and adding some additional background behind that saying, Alicat!



I didn't mean "flavoring meat" literally, by the wa, I was actually being metaphoric there in "preserving" or "keeping fresh" what's of great natural worth in our world. I apologize if I failed to clarify that. Perhaps I was a little off there, though indeed this saying still supports the essential claim that we must graze the Earth with our morals and sustain it for all its worth.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton


"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa
JoshG
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7 posted 03-16-2005 10:40 AM       View Profile for JoshG   Email JoshG   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JoshG

I don't mean to get off track here, but I found the topic interesting and found this website that I thought might be an interesting read.  I do not vouche for its accuracy, but promote it as entertainment.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibi.htm

I find myself right between conservative/liberal christians, because of a lack of knowledge that would support a lean.  I know what I was taught, but I have yet to validate it through extensive research.  Plus, the translations discussion on the link is something I have thought about.  I think about the # of stories, folklore that was passed word of mouth or written through the centuries and I am sure there is lost translations and meanings.  I can't help but think that humans make error and they wrote the Bible from experiences that are real, but what version do we get today?
 
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