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RE: [greenyes] Religion and environment
- Subject: RE: [greenyes] Religion and environment
- From: "Steve Bloom" <email@example.com>
- Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2005 19:10:38 -0800
"...plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation
Humans suffer, amphibians prosper. Given the current state of affairs, that doesn't seem
all bad. I also can't figure out how it is that people in an semi-desert climate
concluded that a lot of frogs would be so terrible given how innocuous frogs are,
especially since more rain would seem to be implied. A perception of ickiness, maybe?
-- Steve Bloom
> -----Original Message-----
> From: amy perlmutter [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Friday, February 04, 2005 9:47 AM
> To: greenyes
> Subject: [greenyes] Religion and environment
> Since I totally agree with David Biddle¹s posting, I thought I¹d send this
> There Is No Tomorrow
> By Bill Moyers
> The Star Tribune
> Sunday 30 January 2005
> One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the
> delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in
> the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in
> our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.
> Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold
> stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally
> accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are
> not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters
> and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
> Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the
> interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist,
> reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that
> protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return
> of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is
> felled, Christ will come back."
> Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking
> about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the
> country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true -
> one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate.
> In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the
> polls believing in the rapture index.
> That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the
> best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind"
> series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior
> Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology
> concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took
> disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has
> captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.
> Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George
> Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him
> for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of
> its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a
> final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.
> As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will
> return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes
> and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they
> will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils,
> sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that
> I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've
> reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West
> Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called
> to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why
> they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and
> backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of
> Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where
> four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released
> to slay the third part of man." A war with Islam in the Middle East is not
> something to be feared but welcomed - an essential conflagration on the road
> to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144 -
> just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow,
> the son of God will return, the righteous will enter Heaven and sinners will
> be condemned to eternal hellfire.
> So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist
> to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer -
> "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how
> millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental
> destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even
> hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
> As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe
> lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S.
> Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total and more
> since the election - are backed by the religious right.
> Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100
> percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right
> advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant
> Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of
> Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert
> and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the
> Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted
> from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come,
> sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be
> relishing the thought.
> And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found
> that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book
> of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible
> predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned
> to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on
> some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this
> end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell
> of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry
> about the environment. 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? And why care about converting
> from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves
> and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"
> Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the Lord will
> provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, "America's
> Providential History." You'll find there these words: "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." However, "[t]he
> Christian 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
> No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant
> hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot
> soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful
> driving force in modern American politics.
> It is hard for the journalist to report a story like this with any
> credibility. So let me put it on a personal level. I myself don't know how
> to be in this world without expecting a confident future and getting up
> every morning to do what I can to bring it about. So I have always been an
> optimist. Now, however, I think of my friend on Wall Street whom I once
> asked: "What do you think of the market?"I'm optimistic," he answered. "Then
> why do you look so worried?" And he answered: "Because I am not sure my
> optimism is justified."
> I'm not, either. Once upon a time I agreed with Eric Chivian and the
> Center for Health and the Global Environment that people will protect the
> natural environment when they realize its importance to their health and to
> the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not that
> I don't want to believe that - it's just that I read the news and connect
> the dots.
> I read that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
> has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment.
> This for an administration:
> ? That wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and
> the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and animal species and
> their habitats, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act, which
> requires the government to judge beforehand whether actions might damage
> natural resources.
> ? That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone; eliminate vehicle
> tailpipe inspections, and ease pollution standards for cars, sport-utility
> vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.
> ? That wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to
> keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the
> ? That wants to drop all its new-source review suits against
> polluting, coal-fired power plants and weaken consent decrees reached
> earlier with coal companies.
> ? That wants to open the Arctic [National] Wildlife Refuge to
> drilling and increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the
> longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last
> great coastal wild land in America.
> I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental
> Protection Agency had planned to spend $9 million - $2 million of it from
> the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council - to pay poor
> families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have
> been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an
> end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the
> families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve
> as guinea pigs for the study.
> I read all this in the news.
> I read the news just last night and learned that the administration's
> friends at the International Policy Network, which is supported by Exxon
> Mobil and others of like mind, have issued a new report that climate change
> is "a myth, sea levels are not rising" [and] scientists who believe
> catastrophe is possible are "an embarrassment."
> I not only read the news but the fine print of the recent appropriations
> bill passed by Congress, with the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to
> it: a clause removing all endangered species protections from pesticides;
> language prohibiting judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of
> environmental review for grazing permits on public lands; a rider pressed by
> developers to weaken protection for crucial habitats in California.
> I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the
> computer - pictures of my grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me
> from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what
> we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do
> know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust.
> Despoiling their world."
> And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy?
> Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain
> indignation at injustice?
> What has happened to our moral imagination?
> On the heath Lear asks Gloucester: "How do you see the world?" And
> Gloucester, who is blind, answers: "I see it feelingly.'"
> I see it feelingly.
> The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a
> journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be
> the truth that sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the future
> we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for
> cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those
> photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called
> hochma - the science of the heart ... the capacity to see, to feel and then
> to act as if the future depended on you.
> Believe me, it does.
> Bill Moyers was host until recently of the weekly public affairs series
> "NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS. This article is adapted from AlterNet, where
> it first appeared. The text is taken from Moyers' remarks upon receiving the
> Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global
> Environment at Harvard Medical School.
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