Stephen Harper — who walked away from Canada’s commitments under the Kyoto treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — appears in a billboard campaign in Copenhagen, 2009
Our last few posts make this a good time to return to our ongoing “Frye on God” thread. Conservative politicians are the most likely to declare themselves Christians, but they are also the most likely to be missing any sense of Christian charity, especially with regard to the poor and the sick. Stephen Harper’s repetitions of “God bless Canada” do not otherwise appear to display much concern for the welfare of fellow Canadians in need, or for the vast expanses of nature that make up the Canadian landscape. Evangelical Christians, in fact, seem to possess a reckless disregard for the environment. Like other North American conservatives, they deny global warming in large numbers despite a virtually unanimous scientific consensus on the issue. Because big oil interests spend tens of millions of dollars every year to fund global warming denialism, it evidently is possible to serve both God and Mammon if you have a mind to do so. It’s as though a peculiar strain of Christian conservatism believes that, with the End Times coming, it doesn’t matter how much damage is inflicted along the way. As Tina Fey in her most recent rendering of Sarah Palin nicely put it, “I believe that global warming is just Jesus holding us closer.”
Those who cite the Bible as a strict source of authority often seem to have no idea what they’re talking about. The limit of their understanding is usually love. Here’s Frye in “On the Bible”:
[T]he response which the Bible itself insists on, the response of the spirit, is bound up with the conception of love, a word which perhaps means too many things in modern languages and may have rather a sentimental sound. But in the New Testament love is regarded not as one virtue among others but as the only virtue there is, and one which is possible only to God and to the spirit of man, a virtue which, in Paul’s language, believes and hopes everything [1 Corinthians 13:7], and thereby includes all the other virtues because, outside the order of love, faith and hope are not necessarily virtues at all. (CW 4, 164)
Back in the early 1980s James Watt was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior. At one point he told Congress, “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns. Whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations.” It provoked quite a controversy. He & his defenders stressed the second sentence & claimed that it was unfair to characterize him as saying ‘the end is near so why worry about conserving anything.’ But that characterization was certainly consistent w/ his policies of throwing public lands wide open to commercial development.
Moreover, why would he even say the first sentence unless it had some relevance in his mind? The implication seems clear that if we are confident that Jesus is returning soon there’s no need to protect the environment. And given the premise, it’s hard to argue with the logic itself, but why drilling & mining seem like the thing to do when the end is nigh is beyond me.