Saving the planet our biblical duty

February 3, 2013 

Professor Dan Abel and I come to the same conclusion from two very dissimilar places. He, from the world of science empiricism and I from the world of theology and prayer.

But first, I congratulate Dr. Abel on becoming the recipient of the 2012 Henry Hampton Woods and Water Conservation Memorial Journalism Award from the S.C. Wildlife Federation. I don't know Bill Holiday, who nominated Dr. Abel for this honor, but it was a judicious and well deserved move! We are fortunate to have such a visionary in our midst.

I am reminded of the Old Testament prophets who were called to speak “truth to power,” e.g. Moses addressing Pharaoh; Nathan addressing David; Elijah addressing Ahab; and so on. It is time that more clergy begin to speak biblically about what science has told us for years; we live on a planet that is interconnected, interdependent, ecologically and environmentally fragile. Or as the poet John Donne put it many years ago: “No man is an island, entire of itself … any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

In my struggle with the institutional church, I have come to believe there is only one disorder whose urgency trumps all the rest: that is the state of our planet. Unless people and churches are willing to acknowledge that our environment, the oceans, the forests, the stored resources beneath our feet are not ours to exploit but to conserve and treasure as holy gifts, there will be no air to breathe, or ocean to fish, or soil to plant. Dr. Abel speaks truth to us all when he tell us that “what we are doing is the equivalent of inter-generational war -- war against the next generation.” Thank you, Dr. Abel.

The writer lives in Pawleys Island.

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