Monday, May 6, 2013

Manly Environmentalism

Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is in the news today for remarks he apparently made at a conference in Dallas.  Reportedly, he commented:
 I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.
It's not an uncommon argument in some Christian circles - though seldom stated so crudely - and I've already written about it on this blog.   The two-point summary of my previous posting is:
  • The coming judgment does not mean that what we do now is of no account - quite the contrary!
  • The creation is to be restored, healed - not junked!
And one could also add
  • The New Testament emphasizes that the timing of "that day" is completely unknown (Matthew 24:36-44), so we cannot use its imminence as an excuse not to take thought for our children and the generations to come.
(In a recent poll only 14% of American Christians gave the scripturally correct answer "I don't know" to the question "Will Jesus return in the next forty years?". )

But what also interests me here is how Mr Driscoll continued his remarks.  After presenting his SUV-driving credentials, he reportedly said
If you drive a minivan, you're a mini-man
Environmental concern, it appears, is for wimps: the potent SUV is a sacrament of masculinity. (Women are entirely absent from the discussion.)  How ironic that this news item should make the rounds the same week Niall Ferguson told us that Keynes couldn't take thought for posterity because he was gay

I think there is more than bad theology at work here.  By driving the SUV (or by buying the incandescent bulb), I assuage my anxiety, I reinforce my ("manly") identity against a perceived threat.  What is that threat? Perhaps it is the threat of relationship, of being enmeshed in mutual dependence.  To attend to ecology is, inter alia,  to become aware of how deeply our lives are connected to those of other humans, animals, plants, and the rest of creation.  Is this insight unwelcome to Mr Driscoll?  Is the return of Christ important to him chiefly as a razor-sharp knife that enables him to cut that entangling relational web?

Image from Stuff Christian Culture Likes.

1 comment:

Victoria Pearson said...

really good post. i think there is something smacking of fear and confusion in his comments, and you are just right that living like the apocalypse is coming soon shouldn't mean living like we are all staying in a hotel and someone will by, after, and clean it up for us. JC is not the great housekeeper, washing away the corporate sin of ecocide, i don't think. because if this truly is God's creation, where is our love for God in our actions? The self-centered dominion arguments refuse the lived reality of humility and awe, and yes, these experiences are deeply enmeshed, deeply intimate. i just want we humans to let the world IN, and to see ourselves as part of that world, not manifestly dominating it, and trashing it in the process. thanks for reflecting on this.