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April 22, 2010
Too Bad It's Earth Day.
By sherry mann
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the 40th celebration of Earth Day, will once again only touch upon the tip of the iceberg concerning our shared Titanic course. What I challenge you to do today is to do more than so many million green acts"These may be a nice exercise, but our problems require far more from ALL of us.
My children woke up excited to get ready for school. They put on their green shirts, old jeans, and tennis shoes. They packed their gloves, milk jugs (for watering the plants), hand shovels and weeding tools.
Let's face it, today was like no other day of the year. It was Earth Day!
The first Earth Day (April 22, 1970) had some 20 million demonstrators involved. Today, Earthday.org, which seems to serve as the central hub of Earth Day events, lists "31,464,418 acts of green and counting."
Well, isn't that nice.
After a day with their family at the beach, Nancy Sleeth asked her husband, Matthew Sleeth a question that would change his life forever. "What is the biggest problem facing the world?" After thinking of all the problems of war, disease, terrorism and poverty, he finally replied that, "The world is dying."
After much reflection and many life changing decisions, Dr. Sleeth, an emergency room physician released the Green Bible early in 2008. The Green Bible is bound in environmentally friendly, cotton/linen cover, recycled paper, soy-based ink, and a water-based coating.
There are many essays in the opening of the Bible by leading conservationists and theologians. Those passages which support stewardship of the earth are highlighted with green text. In the sidebars, Wendell Berry and others are quoted to offer further encouragement for the stewardship of the Earth.
While the publication may have good intentions, there are some biblical scholars who (perhaps justifiably) criticize the Green Bible. Here is an excerpt from Laurence Vance's article, "Is God Green?"
"Some of the biblical passages highlighted in green mention pollution. For example:
If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, will he return to her? Would not such a land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? says the Lord (Jeremiah 3:1).
"The land here is polluted because of moral activity, not because someone put toxic waste in a dump. Examples could be multiplied to show that many of the 'green' verses in The Green Bible are not green at all.
"What we are never told by any of the contributors to The Green Bible is that the two biggest environmental catastrophes in the history of the world catastrophes that dwarf anything man has ever done are both deliberate acts of God: Noah's flood in the past (Genesis 7:4-10) and the burning up of the earth in the future (2 Peter 3:10).
"It is fitting that the New Revised Standard Version is the version of choice for The Green Bible. It is one of the few Bible versions that says the earth and everything in it will be "disclosed' instead of "burned up' (2 Peter 3:10)."
Many of the Green Bible's book reviews exalt the opening essays which comprise nearly half of the 1440 pages as the most powerful part of the book. , What is troubling is the remainder is of course, the BIBLE!
Dr. Matthew Sleeth's essay, entitled The Power of a Green God, describes the transformation of him and his family :
""My answer [that the Earth was dying] did not come from abstract sources. Many changes had already taken place in my life and now readily apparent to anyone with eyes to see. The last majestic chestnut trees near my childhood home are now extinct. There are no chestnuts on Chestnut Lane, no elms on Elm St., no caribou in Caribou, Maine, and no buffalo in Buffalo, New York. Multiple states have had to change their official tree, animal or flower because of extinction...
"These changes in the health of the planet are mirrored in humans. A few months before vacation, I had admitted three women to the hospital. All three were in their thirties, all three had breast cancer, all three died. It is not easy to tell a man with one child on his hip and another in hand that he is on his own. There is only one response: to hug and cry with him.
"Later, I wondered about the lifetime risk of breast cancer, so I went and looked it up. When I started in medicine, one in nineteen women in America got breast cancer. When I saw the three women (in the winter of 1999), the same updated medical text said it was one in nine. Now (2008) it is one in seven. There is currently a pandemic of cancers and the most dramatic increases are in young people.
"Similarly, there have been increases in asthma, autoimmune diseases, autism and other maladies, which many believe have environmental links. No one can suppose that those trends in nature and in us can continue unchanged and everything will turn out all right.''
(J. Matthew Sleeth, The Power of Green, The Green Bible, Harper One, San Francisco, 2008, pp. I18-I19)
His empirical observations are beyond reproach, yet most of the newspaper articles you will read today about Earth Day will focus on stories like the local Rotary club which planted 50 trees at the local park or Mrs. Smith's second graders who planted 15 trays of flowers donated by Yourtown Growers.
And that's great, and yet...
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child"
I'm sorry to spoil the celebration, but there seems to be one or two little things left out of our Earth Day stewardship conversation. I could let you off easy today, but I'm not going to.
"...When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."
The Earth's problems--our problems--are not going to be solved by taking one day of the year to exalt things like planting trees, recycling, buying a GREEN BIBLE or riding bikes.
Obviously Earth Day should be celebrated every day and while it may be true that the Green Bible may not be theologically sound, Matthew Sleeth is right in THE EARTH IS DYING
It should be obvious that we can not even begin to address the following crises only 40 days out of the next 14,600 days (40 years) with out a deeper understanding of the root causes. With this in mind, I've comprised the top 12 of the most significant threats to our mutual survival because:"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Albert Einstein
(Warning: the following stories may significantly alter your sense of reality.)
10. Consolidation of Corporations.
9. Genetically Engineered Organisms--animals and even humans.
7. Excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizersin farming. (See number 3).
5. Industrial Pollution. This article is a photographic essay on China's pollution problems, but they can be translated to all areas of the globe.
4. The global food economy--"our well traveled food."
3. Genetically Modified Foods--Monsanto, decrease of nutritional content of food, and the death of bees.
2. Corporate ownership of environmental "commons"--specifically, our water resources.
1. Department of Defense "Recycling."
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that on the 40th celebration of Earth Day, we will once again only touch upon the tip of the iceberg concerning our shared Titanic course. What I challenge you to do today is to do more than so many million green acts--These may be a nice exercise, but our problems require far more from ALL of us.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.' ~ Thoreau