Tag Archives: creation

The myth of ‘scarcity’

scarcity

“2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’” 4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.” (Genesis 3:2-7)

“took and ate”, could this possibly be the first act of human consumerism?  To me, this is a picture of what you and I still do today.  But the question is why?  What is it within us that says that what we have is not enough?  Where do the fears come from that speak to us and say that someone/something is taking things away from us and in the end there won’t be enough for me?  The myth is that the thing I put my security in is a scarce thing, there isn’t enough of it, so I will consume it and hoard it if need be so that I am self-sufficient and not vulnerable to the reality of being left without.  It is a fear-based way of thinking, I don’t think it’s how we were originally designed.  The moment the original humans tried to ‘make it on their own’, it didn’t work out for them.  What they felt was fear, shame, competition and a loss of peace.  All that was right, now was wrong and they came to that realization, the game changed.

We do this on many levels in western culture.  Physically, popular reality shows on hoarding and apocalypse preparation are extreme examples of the idea that if we don’t grab for more and the fleeting security of self-sufficiency, there won’t be enough for me.  We do this on our over-filled closets, basements, garages, dressers, attics, crawl-spaces etc. of stuff we hardly use, don’t really need but we acquire because we must not have enough and want the security of more.  We do this with the promise of retirement savings, that we can save up enough to live comfortably into our aging years because of what we have stockpiled throughout life.  Consumer goods aren’t evil, it’s our attachments to them that expose the sickness.  Saving money is a wise habit/strategy, but as a source of security for what really sustains us, it will fall woefully short.

From a spiritual perspective, it seems to me that the original humans no longer trusted that God would provide for them, that there wouldn’t always be enough.  So they began to take mastery of their world, enforce a dominion over Creation and grab for what they could instead of living and trusting in the promises given to them and the balance of harmony they were set in.  Take, acquire, master, consume . . . these are the verbs of the myth of ‘scarcity’.  The opposite verb is simply ‘trust’.

So what is the antidote to the myth of ‘scarcity’?  I think it is a simple yet profound trust in the One who made us, who cares for us, who will do what He promises to do.  I think it is also a trust in one another.  My favorite definition of community is ‘there’s enough for everyone’.  That we make ourselves vulnerable to one another in the reality that we need each other, that we are designed to live in community with others so that as we each contribute, all our needs are met.  This is how Creation operates, no one part has all it needs to survive, we live as a part of a connected whole sourcing one another.  The myth of ‘scarcity’ begins when we stop trusting these basic truths and in our vulnerability grab for more.

I’m seeing some parts within me recently that I’ve bought into this lie of scarcity and it’s exposing my lack of trust in the One who made me. I find myself going back to a primary place within, perhaps circling back to that Garden and asking myself what do I really believe and trust in about God and His Creation and my part in it?  I’m coming to a new realization that there are some really good answers to that question, and plenty of them.  Scarcity be gone.

 

What to tell my kids about Climate Change?

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, nor a physicist, nor an ecological expert.  At best, I’m a decent teacher/thinker, but what I am most assuredly is a Dad who cares deeply about my kids and their future in this world. 

Having just read “Global Waming: A Very Short Introduction” by Mark Maslin, I’m left with so many questions, but I’m choosing to focus on just one:  What to tell my kids about Climate Change?

This is such a heated debate within the political, social and religious culture of modern America.  If you acknowledge any hint of conviction in a kind of Climate Change that is happening through the measurements of Science, you are labeled an immediate political and religious liberal.  There appears to be no category for economically conservative, evangelically traditioned and an ascent to at least a kind of Climate Change

Well, here it goes:  I do believe in at least a kind of Climate Change that appears, according to the science of certain measurements, to be the result of human agency.  The scientific community is in no way in agreement on every point on this matter to be sure, but there is relative aggreement that with the increase of carbon dioxide at the hands of human development is having environmental effects.  “One of the few claims of the global warming debate that seems to be universally accepted is that there is clear proof that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have been rising ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution.” (p. 7)   Clearly our expansive development through the Industrial, Space and Information age have created a quality of living, comfort and modernization as never before seen on this blue planet, but at what cost to our environment? 

There are so many issues to muddy the water in this debate:

  • Global Warming has become big business, and the point of big business is to protect and sustain big business which means profits.  This is a dangerous slippery slope to Science as it has been to Religion through the centuries.  There is no such thing as being ‘unbiased’, particularly when so much money and professional reputations are on the line.  The Scientific community is at odds a bit on this issue, see this article. 
  • The politicization of this issue particulary in the fractured American world of politics.  To be for ‘climate change’ means you are a democrat, and to be against it is to be Republican.  It would be professional and political suicide to differ from the ranks on this issue.  How did we come to this point?  It seems to have peaked with Al Gore’s participation with “An Inconvenient Truth” and now it is purely a political issue/stance instead of a human reflection. 
  • A postmodern distrust in media, institutions and organizations of power such as the UN and others from the scientific community.  Consumers are used to the over-statements of daily marketing messages and the dire warnings of climate change seem to fall into the same white noise. 
  • A fractured relationship between the Chrisitan Church and the Science community.  You can trace the origin of this fault line most likely all the way back to the Scopes Trial of 1925.  As a result, the evangelical Christian community within America has launched a culture war to “win back” America from the secular age.  The culture war created a bubble of it’s own music, books, movies, t-shirts, camps, concerts, video games, breath mints, schools, nightclubs, dating services, campus groups and a myriad of other versions of Christian industry.  At the very top of the list of this crusade to take back America is a severe distrust of the Scientific community for it’s lack of space for any kind of rational creationism.  Science is met with fear and reactive statements.  This fracture grieves me and perhaps one of the reasons why I have no home within the fuzzy middle of this culture war, it makes no sense to me as a person of faith. 

So, what to tell my kids about Climate Change?:

  1. You live in a global community.  You are a uniquely gifted individual that lives within the context of a global community.  With that comes responsibility to use your personal freedoms with the common good in mind.  Think tribe, think community, think inter-connectivity.  Your individual actions affect the whole and vice-versa.  The American propaganda of hyper-individualism is a fool’s gold, there’s no life in it.  Think of others, act on behalf of others, use your gifts to serve others; you’l find youself in harmony with the intention of a life-giving Creation.
  2. Re-use and recycle because it’s just a good idea of being stewards of Creation.  Will it affect global change when China is expanding it’s CO2 inducing industrial plants?  Probably not but it doesn’t make it a bad idea.  Act in your freedom to do what is doable.  Healthy living and thinking has its own rewards.
  3. Refuse more.  Learn to live on less.  Contentment is found in simplicity.  Don’t buy into the myth of “away”.  When we throw “away”, it doesn’t go to a magical land of nothingness.  It goes to a place on earth built for waste and it overwhelms our environment.  Be conscious of our contribution of waste in our communities.  Meaning is created, it isn’t purchased. 
  4. Embrace Science, it is a physical revelation of what we can know about the design of our Creator.  It is a lifelong wonder.  Read Science with awe as you do the Scriptures, they are describing the same God and His intent for humanity.  Learn to read and discuss important issues with people you disagree with.  Listen, think critically and then offer your measured response.  Learning sometimes happens in unexpected places. 
  5. Humanism leads to fear, the wonders of our world are astronomically far beyond us.  Most of what can be known, we yet don’t know.  Fear is not our story, our God is not nervous.  We act responsibly, we use our freedom to serve, we participate in a Kingdom that has come on earth as it is in heaven.  But it is not about us, salvation is beyond us.  Have a proper view of self in the scope of God’s Creation and history.
  6. Love this world, it’s a part of our expected hope.  Resist the dualism of this world being “bad” and the far off place called ‘heaven” being the good.  We believe in the restoration of all things, a coming of a new heaven and a new earth.  We will not be raptured away to a different land in the by and by, rather there will be an unveiling of the New Creation that will restore and resurrect the one we have.  The Scriptures are not linear, they are circular.  Revelation points back to Creation, our hope is that God is restoring the intentions of Creation itself.  As Howard Snyder put it recently, “Salvation Means Creation Healed“.  Start with the end in mind, our hope in Christ is the salvation of all of Creation.  We are not in a culture war, we exist to love our neighbors. 

Tricky and complicated issues to be sure, but they deserve to be wrestled with and sifted through.  With complete disregard, it may be the end of the world as we know it, for good or bad. 

Theory of Everything?

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/nS734OF1PiI" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /] This BBC series of paralel universes is always something I have found really interesting, if not fascinated by.  I am not a physicist, in fact, I have never taken physics, although I’m fascinated by it.  I am just a thinker and at most, a theologian.  As a theologian, I am very interested in the questions of how and why, much more than what.  The theologians of the Modernist world were soley interested in what, objective truths to build a systematic theology on.  They sought to remove all mystery from the faith in search of a dogma that would stand the test of time.  In my opinion, often what they created was a sub-culture that does not account for culture, history or worldview assumptions. We all start with worldview assumptions, whether we are conscious of them or not.  It’s best to just admitt them up front.  I admitt that I see the world as a Creationist, that God is one and the uncaused Cause of all that we see and perceive.  And that God is both transcendent over the universe as well as immanent and close to the Creation.  God revealed himself within creation in the person of Jesus of Nazareth who explained, taught and modeled the basis of life, that which he called “the Kingdom of God.”  To me, the Kingdom of God, as revealed by Jesus is the theory of everything for practical, daily life.  The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is the heart of the KOG, a map for living and finding harmony within Creation.  So when I read, listen and think about Scientific discussions and theories, its impossible for me to view them outside of these assumptions.  That is how I approach Einstein’s theory of everything, or otherwise called String Theory.I perceive a lot of truth in String Theory.  It is just that, theory, but I come alive thinking about it.  I can’t factor the equations, but I can comprehend the ideas and the thinking behind them.  I’ve been reading, listening and discussing this theory for the past few years and the controversy between old science and new science is another dynamic of it. From a theological standpoint, it just makes sense to me.  That there is Unification to the universe, a master equation.  As a Creationist, I believe in a vastly intelligent designer who created based on order, unification and design.  I perceive the universe as a result of purpose, instead of random chaos.  Do not parallel universes fit within the idea of the spiritual realm that our Scripture narratives tell stories about?  That there is a daily interaction between the spiritual and the physical realm?  And what about the Incarnation?  How exactly did Jesus, (God in human form), leave the realm of heaven and enter physically into the earthly realm?  Could that be explained with a wormhole?  Jesus’ miracles, his healing of the blind and the crippled.  Is there not a scientific/physical explanation for the events themselves if we believe them to be historical?  Is a healing simply a re-arranging of strings through a supernatural energy source?  I’m amazed that Christians don’t want to have this conversation.  Why should we be afraid of physical explanations of supernatural miracles?  The supernatural is the energy and agent/cause of the effect, but the effects can be measured and understood on a natural level.  Why be afraid of that?  The best conversations I’ve had on this topic has not been with other Christians, but with atheists or agnostics who are constantly seeking understanding of what is real. I’m interested in truth.  I emabrace though, that wrapped up in my search for truth is an amazement with mystery and the unknown.  The God I know, that I perceive, that I have a relational connection to (as John Calvin calls a “mystical union”) is as much a mystery to me as a known quantity and I’m okay with that.  I am challenged to that conclusion over and over again, but I keep coming back to it as my theory for everything.  String theory interests and fascinates me, somehow I find a spiritual connection to it all.peace, Marshall

A Grand Universe

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New video images of the Sun from NASA here. I am just in awe of this kind of stuff.  I don’t mean to get political, but we are specs in a grand and mysterious universe.  Do we really think we have much impact as humans on something as colossal as global warming or climate change?  Most times I just think we are full of ourselves.  History has shown man as a proven narcissist.  Believing the universe revolves around us and is dependent on us.  The more I see, read about, study and wonder . . . the more it can’t be about us, it’s just absurd.  We are grains of sand in relative to the mysteries and galaxies beyond us.   The universe is immense, we are not. And if the universe is immense, spectacular and mysterious?  What does that say about it’s author?  Does God need to fit our systematic theologies so we can have it all figured out?  Again, more absurdity.  I am all for the search for knowledge, but it needs to begin with a sense of humility and a thirst for things truly wonderful and incomprehensible.  In my elder years, (now that I”m 37), I want to conclude less and wonder more.  These pics today just make me wonder. peace,marshall