Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia shares this analysis of corporate and media claims regarding the EPA’s new regulations to reduce carbon emissions. Click HERE to read “Myths & Facts: New EPA Regs on CO2 Emissions from Coal Plants.”
Climate change is the number one issue facing every country across the globe. The brutal fact is that the United States is the second only to China on the list of carbon polluters. Rabbi Waskow calls the opposition to responsible climate change action the new Pharaoh.
This morning we posted a piece on Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance. Walter and Arthur share a biblical point of view on the sacredness of Earth and the human vocation.
In Walter Brueggemann’s 1994? book, “Biblical Perspectives on Evangelism: Living in a Three-Storied Universe” he says we should resist the adaptation of OT prophecy to modern verbiage in order to preserve its power to connect the original OT spirit to the present. In the writing of anybody else this would seem to be an outlandish position.
By “3 storied universe” WB means, 1st the Earth’s ocean bottoms, 2nd the land & 3rd the sky. Many, if not most people on the planet still inhabit that universe. It seems the implication of WB’s thesis is that climate change deniers can be more easily convinced of man’s complicity in CC if they are able to understand the process without giving up their “3 storied universe”. Even Thomas Jefferson’s universe was “3 storied” considering he believed the world was only 6000 yrs. old & told Lewis & Clark to look for dinosaurs on their western expedition.
The finiteness of a “3 storied universe” allows the deniers to more readily understand that only so much space can be allocated to CO2 accumulation before effects are noticed. IOW, not only do we have a limited time horizon of 6000 yrs for a universe to have come into being but by definition we then only have a limited amount of space in “3 story universe” for our waste product, CO2, to accumulate.
What if this approach was taken into a fundamentalist church? Would climate change be more likely to fly if it was described using the context of the OT prophecy mode that includes criticism of worldly behavior divorced from the world of the spirit that pervades the OT “3 story universe”, i.e.,nature?
Gary, as you know, our generation’s project was demythologization a la Bultmann. The task was to de-mythologize and then, for the post-Bultmannians, to re-mythologize the biblical cosmology and language. It’s the same as deconstruction and reconstruction. Too often over the years, I think I’ve spent too much time deconstructing and not enough energy on the reconstruction. What Brueggemann does, it seems to me, is to waste very little energy on any of it. The three-storied universe IS the world that accords with the human experience. We look up. We look sideways. We look down. It’s not science. It’s experience, and the biblical symbolic-mythic language and constructs present a precious opportunity to explore the meaning within the text rather than trying to destroy or re-write the text to our liking. Karl Barth spoke of “the strange new world of the Bible” and it is that “new” world into which the Bible takes us, at its best. It invites us out of the world our hands have made – all of our assumptions, habits, illusions, denials, sloth, hate, and arrogance – into a strange world where justice, love, and peace are the rule, not the wish. A world where the One who has become a stranger in God’s own house is working in the shadows of public life to heal and mend what we have broken and torn.
Your comment about limits – limited space, limited time – is thought-provoking with respect to finding common ground with fundamentalist biblical interpreters. The question is whether the fundamentalist church will take the Genesis call to care for the planet (stewardship) as seriously as they do the Fall, individual salvation through acceptance of substitutionary atonement, and the Eschaton.
Thank you for that response! Beautiful explanation. Are you saying that in effect post I Bultmanians were actually conscious of the need for reconstruction? That’s very interesting. In a way the people who have embraced demythologization, libs in general, are themselves a brand of fundamentalism on the left & are also half baked. It doesn’t seem many are able to engage in reconstruction.
“Are you saying that in effect post Bultmanians were actually conscious of the need for reconstruction?”
Yes. There was, one might say, an unenlightened Enlightenment view which shrunk truth to propositions. In order to get to the real truth hidden in the biblical texts, the interpreter need to peel away the mythic trapping to extract the kernel hidden in the husk. I’ve been there. I’ve done that and still do. But it’s really a new kind of rationalist fundamentalism, isn’t it? “I think, therefore I am” and I think better, know more, am in position to tell you what they tried to say in their ignorance. Literary criticism has taught good biblical scholars and interpreters to live WITHIN the text as a strange world. The strange text is valuable because it throws a different light on us and our time. When we do that, now and then something happens to us, something breaks through our mental fortress to awaken the I AM within us. That’s how reconstruction happens.
It seems to me the 3 level universe that we experience is arguably a scientific consciousness that we have shed for Cartesianism, a diminished science called scientism, in our flight from death.
“… we have shed for Cartesianism, a diminished science called scientism, in our flight from death.
Have to think about that. The center of Cartesianism – “I THINK, therefore I am” – is itself a kind of flight from death because it puts the thinker in the position of mastery over nature and being itself. As you’ve said eloquently in other conversations, Spinoza and the likes of Tillich argue, in effect, “I AM, therefore I think.” If the heart of Cartesianism is “man over nature” and a flight into ourselves (John Calvin said that the “heart is a perpetual factory of idols”), the Cartesian presumption exists everywhere around us. The Christian fundamentalist also shares it insofar as s/he places an act of the will (acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior) at the center of the stage of the divine-human encounter. In that case, what I think and will is what matters most. I have the capacity to determine my own destiny.
You know I’m with you, Gordon. I think, however, it is very important to try, the operative word, ‘try,’ to get Congress to help the people who, at least in the short term, might well suffer from this. First, someone estimated that this might cost each household $200-$—?, but that since average household income is about $70,000, this should not be a problem. Yes, no problem for an average household, certainly none for an above average, but if your household is trying to get by on $18,000, or even $25,000, two hundred bucks becomes quite a bit more significant. Also, I worry about the effect of mine closures on miners. Many may have money put by, since many, if not most, earn a “danger” sum as part of their pay. And most people want to work, and a majority of miners have worked all their working lives in the mines; so there will be a tremendous need for skillful and flexible retraining for many miners. Of course some may well have reached an age so close to retirement that they choose that instead of retraining. My point is that they should not be forgotten as “collateral damage.”
As for the gentleman who is a proud denier, we must agree to differ. But I would like to point out that 97% of independent scientists say that climate change is happening, that humans have contributed to it, and that, while no single weather event can be said to be caused specifically by it, that the congruence in time of so many extreme weather events, and the fact that so many are occurring just as the climate models predicted they would point inescapably to the fact that change is already happening, and we have little time to respond constructively.
Carolyn, Thanks for your suggestion that we “try” to get Congress to help those least able to meet the increased costs of climate change regulations and legislation. we easily forget that this economy is a rush to the bottom of the economic “ladder” rather than to the top, i.e., the middle class is shrinking toward poverty, and the poor are offered unlivable wages. As you say, and, as John Littlehale agrees, the poor “should not be forgotten as ‘collateral damage'”.
Don’t know whether you saw the previous post on the rest-less society calling attention to Walter Brueggemann’s new book. Brueggemann and the likes of Arthur Waskow are as insistent regarding economic economic inequality as they are about climate change action. You, especially, would LOVE Brueggemann’s work. Right down your alley, CA.
Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comment.
First off CO2 is not a pollutant. Remove it and we all are dead. CO2 is 4/10,000 of the atmosphere. For it to be a powerful driver of global warming, climate change, climate disruption or whatever we currently call the 18 year pause in climate temperatures requires it a positive feedback loop with water vapor and that has not been proved. Actually there may be a negative feedback loop. It is clear he is a rabbi, not an economist. The net result will be a significant increase in energy costs that will disproportionately impact the poor. Just remember what our President said, that he would increase the cost of a coal plant so that none will be built. The clean air act did not regulate CO2, and only a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court allowed them to create this regulation. In reality the EPA is bastardizing the act with these regulations. It requires implementation of the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and the EPA is requiring unproved expensive technology not the BACT. Finally there is no evidence that we are experiencing any unique weather events, the IPCC concluded this in their latest findings. By the way I would not be surprised if the East Coast experiences significant hurricane events this fall as the conditions are similar to the 50’s when numerous hurricanes hit the coast. This is by far the biggest fraud in the history of science. Check out how the Mr Holdren lost his bet to Julian SImon. He has a long history of being wrong. I am proud to be called a denier, I just look at facts and the facts do not support the hysteria actually they refute them. Follow the money, $20B per year is budgeted to research climate change and those that find that it is not a problem are ostracized and no longer get grants.
John, We agree to disagree. CO2 is as necessary as oxygen to the Earth. Having agreed on that point, what’s the point? People in China are choking on coal dust. They’re wearing masks on the street. The research on the effects of human-produced CO2 is not a hoax. It’s NOT a hoax. If there is money going to climate change research, it is because the funders understand their own self-interest in keeping the planet green and/or because they have a conscience. One would be hard pressed, or so it seems to me, to make the case that the U.S. Department of Defense and the military would do their futuring based on climate change projections without strong evidence. The scientists who do this research don’t do it because that’s where the money is. The scientific researchers I know are some of the least self-interested people. They see their work as a matter of scientific integrity and stewardship.
As for the rabbi, is he an economist? Yes, he is. If economics is about the management of the one house we all inhabit, he is an economist. And that is what economics is about, most professional ‘economists’ are not economists. They manage systems that are already in place. The rabbi and all other people of faith imagine and work for a different world (oikos) where the wealthy do not amass wealth beyond reason and the poor are fed, clothed, housed, and fed as rightful full participants in the household of God.
This article, aside from Rabbi Waskow’s introduction was not written by Arthur. It comes from the Media Center that analyzes truth and the manipulation of truth in the media.
Blessings and Peace,
This is a great piece. It is amazing how profits and distortion of the facts can portray something so urgently necessary and positive into a negative thing. I worry that the public at large will never wake up and realize that they are being lied to by the climate change naysayers. Very sad my friend.
Dom, we exist in a culture of denial. Denial of death. Denial that anything is finite. Denial that there are consequences to human behavior. Denial of fact. It’s quite amazing. Richard Beck’s The Slavery of Death is well worth the read, if you haven’t seen it. Beck builds on Bill Stringfellow, Ernest Becker, and Arthur McGill to present a compelling argument for the social psychology of the power of death. Denying climate change fits Beck’s study to a ‘t’.