Well, it’s been a while since I shared anything here; life’s been a little busy. But this week the oil spilling into the Gulf Coast has been heavy on my heart. So, I thought I’d try to unpack a little.
I’m going to ask you to suspend your political sensibilities for a short season. As I’ve listened and reflected on the oil spill, I’ve found the political dynamics to be distracting. Truth is, this is moral issue and an issue of empathy for our friends most impacted and for God’s good creation.
My mother-in-law’s family hails from Southern Louisiana, and so my heart is tied to a region that has partly existed for so many millennium just to bring me my wonderful wife. I and my kin hail from the great state of Texas which shares that same gulf with our neighbors in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Mexico and Cuba. Though not all the gulf is like the pristine waters I have relished along the coast of East Africa, it’s still part of my home.
We really need to be praying for and listening to our neighbors in the killing, thieving path of this spill. We need to be broken for the destruction that this spill is creating within the coastal animal, bird, fish and vegetative communities. We humans are a species of risk takers, often to our gain and sometimes at great cost. I get it; I’m not immune to the thrill of taking a chance and doing what seems impossible. I marvel at the complexity and seemingly preternatural audacity that makes deep sea drilling a reality. But I’m starting to really hurt that the same energies are not given to a love of our God’s good earth and to being present with our neighbors. Did you mark the 45th day of the oil this week? The forty-fifth day! And now BP finally manages to be able to catch a small percentage of the escaping oil… and I can’t muster much joy at the news.
I’m sick and angry as the stories of the ruined lives and livelihoods begin to seep out of LA as the oil seeps into it. I’m embarrassed by a culture of consumption that creates the need for such risky drilling. And I’m so dependent on and appreciative of the mini van and it’s petroleum munching, combustion engine that will soon carry us around on a road-trip to see our family in other states. *sighs* What shall we say to our neighbors in the Gulf Coast in the coming months and years? What will they say to us?
Have I ever mentioned how much I love alligators? I visited an alligator farm in LA some years ago, and have played with the idea of having my own such farm ever since. Fascinating creatures. I’m incredibly angry that their marshes are in danger.
And I’m having a hard time praying for BP. I know. Just typing the words made my fingers itch.
God has made a good world, and it’s wonderfully resilient in the face of such catastrophes. But it pains me to say that I’ve heard people, people self-identifying as followers of Christ, use this truth as a license for apathy about the oil spill. As if in making such a wonderful creation our God abdicated the right of wrath and disgust at the carelessness of any one species within it. Let us not be tempted by such a foolish notion.
This may be an unwelcome observation to you (honestly, it is for me, too), but I’m thinking God’s people need to do some soul searching right about now. Dare we toy with the word? Let’s. Change. It’s time to have a discussion about changing some things. I have an overwhelming feeling of need to do some hard penance for the mess we have made… and I’m not sue what to do about it. Any ideas?
“Saving God… I’m sorry. I’m sorry for unthinkingly embracing a life of no limits on my consumption except those imposed on me by my salary and earthly creditors. I repent of it, and ask for wisdom in the coming days as I try to see a better path, a faithful path. Amen.”