Just the other day I saw an quote from a prominent preacher that went something like this: “If you have a problem with Genesis 1, you’ll have a problem with the whole bible.”
A few things popped into my mind immediately. First, I honestly don’t understand how you can read any of the bible without having problems with it. Second, as I took his point, we are required to first believe that the world was created in a literal 6-day period (10-20,000 years ago, for some unknown textual reason) to understand the bible, and therefore Christianity, properly. In other words, if we believe what scientists have to say about the origins of the world, then we may as well walk away from the faith.
Well, I’m staying anyway.
Every day, it seems, the top scientists in the world, the kind of people who study the populations of tree frogs in the Amazon for a professor’s salary, sound a new warning. We are running out of time. We’ve known this for years. The gas and oil companies have known this for longer than the rest of us have. The increasing intensity of fires, floods, mass migration and record heat are screaming at us. The earth, to use a biblical term, is groaning.
In short, we have a monumental task on our hands and small incremental solutions are no longer feasible. This is the message scientists are trying to send to us, and to our political leaders.
This is why I am a huge fan of the Green New Deal. First, it takes seriously the state of affairs that our planet is in and what needs to be done immediately on a societal level. And second, it takes seriously the folks who are already suffering from the impacts of a changing planet. In many ways it is simply a progressive manifesto, giving attention to economic justice, clean air, job guarantees and more, all framed around fighting climate change. And I love it so.
I’m sure not all of you love it yet, so let’s talk a bit more about it.
Back in February of this year, freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a collection of progressives in the House of Representatives released the Green New Deal. Immediately there were, as with literally everything in 2019, strong opinions voiced. The ones that have littered my facebook feed and played on repeat in virtually each headline feature two points that, oddly enough, don’t make an appearance in the 14-page legislative platform.
No, progressives don’t want to steal your hamburger, and no again, progressives don’t have a particular issue with airplanes. Also, no, AOC is not stupid nor underqualified. Women of color are not handed anything for free in our society and she is certainly no exception.
What it does say is that our food system is unsustainable and that we need to transfer our energy to renewable sources. Surely it is not controversial to say that the way we are currently pulling resources from beneath the earth and shooting them straight into the atmosphere is unsustainable, is it?
And what if further says is that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Our solutions to the climate crisis can include everything from a jobs guarantee to bringing indigenous peoples to the table. These are solutions that can benefit all of us, in other words.
The problem is that there are very powerful, very wealthy people who will do everything in their considerable power to keep things just like they are currently. And we will all pay the price to enrich those who are trading our health for their wealth.
If the Green New Deal, or something like it, were to succeed, you and I would gain a healthier planet and the satisfaction of knowing we were a part of a generation who made a great turnaround. Meanwhile, the suffering of tens of millions of people worldwide would decrease and the powerful will be held accountable for their actions.
In other words, this conversation is about justice.
And to the preacher at the top of this blog post. Moses wrote the book of Genesis not to prove or disprove a scientific theory, nor to deny ecological realities, but to tell our story. Our story begins with one God making the earth and caring for it. He cared for the animals. He set up the ecosystems. He cared for those made in his image. He saw that it was good, then he rested.
Perhaps we should do everything in our power, as a people, to care for the planet we have been given- particularly if that same solution can improve the lives of people made in God’s image.
The Green New Deal is not inspired text, but it is certainly a good place to start.
And I hope that it gets a fair reading.
Recommended reading on implications of Climate Crisis: