As if she has grown restless and feels the urgency to make her point, Mother Earth has forcefully besieged the United States in what I can only describe as a climate change truther campaign. Parched and sun-baked forests in the west are no match for the flames of fire. Storms fueled by warm ocean water are lining up across the Atlantic Ocean, as if on some tropical storm runway, with a one-way ticket to our eastern shores.
Earlier today, I reposted the image below on Facebook. I intended it to be a critique of our current leaders, and those in their mainly Christian base, who dismiss science and the impacts of human-created climate change.
Now fearing that I have once again fallen prey to the sharing economy of Facebook, herein lies the context which was missing from that earlier post.
First, and let me make this abundantly clear, I am in no way belittling any individual who feels inspired to pray. Prayer, and meditation, in general, is manifest in many forms and has tremendous value. Pausing for a few quiet moments in the dark before you sleep. Feeling moved by a passage in an inspirational book. Getting lost in your thoughts as you walk a wooded path. Prayer connects us, it grounds us, and it helps us to clarify our purpose. Honestly, I probably do not pray enough.
So why would I repost a social media meme that literally says don’t pray? Fair question, and perhaps if I were writing the caption for this image I would have worded it differently. Mine would say something like, “Prayer isn’t the only thing we need, get out and vote!”
We need to pray, and undoubtedly we need to meditate deeply on some significant issues these days. There are many in our nation, and in our world, who need help. Sometimes the severity of it all paralyzes us, and perhaps we feel that all we can do is pray. I would welcome the mediation which could calm the storms and douse the flames for good. But leaving these things just to prayer is stopping way short of what I believe is a Christian life. We are called to action, we are called to a Christian vocation, we are called to be the earthly body of God.
The human impact on Mother Earth is well documented. Because these facts are necessarily rooted in science, many of my fellow Christians reject it as fallible since science lacks a divine origin. This is to say nothing about how this stance is then extended into a political point of view that climate change specifically is just a liberal hoax.
Like science, theology is a human-made framework in which we seek to find an order for the things that are beyond our human capacity. If we reject science on the grounds of its human origins, then why would we not do the same with dogmatic theology? I believe that theology, like science, is only useful when we put it into action, we test it, and perhaps we even adapt it.
When I depart from Mother Earth, I would like to do so knowing that our children, and the generations who will follow, will not have to fear the storms and the fires. If all that was required was prayer, then I am confident that this would have been solved a long time ago. I believe that our core purpose is to be in a relationship with our environment and with each other. This is my Christian vocation. I am called to life-long education, to love others, to love Mother Earth, to pray, to advocate, and, when necessary, to vote for leaders who I believe will do the same. To do so, I must test theology with science, test science with faith, and then discern my response.
The future that I believe we are called create will require more than praying, but a quick prayer now and then certainly will not hurt either.