I’ve long known of my power to commit wickedness against the environment.
Like most people of a certain age, I can’t look at the plastic yokes of a six-pack without thinking of the strangulation of sea gulls or the deformation of turtles. Ever since elementary school ecology lessons, I’ve shuddered at the site of non-sorted recyclables and felt true shame when I see a light left on through the night.
Finally major organized religion is offering its services and calling all those ugly bad feelings we have a name: SIN.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in article headlined “New Forms of Social Sin,” quoted Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, as saying that “ecological offenses” are on the list as modern evils.
Meanwhile, this week the Southern Baptists, arguably one of the most conservative and traditional groups in the nation, said that they have a biblical duty to stop global warming.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a religious issue if we didn’t have zealotry. Look no further than the ELF, the Earth Liberation Front, who last week claimed responsibility for burning down three luxury homes that were being sold as “green.” Not green enough! sayest the ELVES!
“Built green? Nope, BLACK!” read the spray-painted bed sheet firefighters found draped over a fence in the cul-de-sac where two other model homes were also aflame, each 4,000 square feet and dubbed green.”
As an agnostic who has already spent years feeling guilty for, despite my best efforts, destroying this beautiful earth, I worry for these new converts to environmental shame. Can they handle this sin? It’s one thing to feel bad for the sea gulls and the oceans. But if questions of heaven and hell get tied up in recycling and polluting, I fear it could turn this whole green movement upside down. Will pollution become like other sin, something secret that one does and takes pleasure from? Will desire for a large carbon foot print swell now that it is verboten? Will governors suddenly be caught on wiretaps discussing their littering fetishes?
What happens when the mundane daily shame about trash sorting is elevated to sin and conscientiousnesses about green house gases becomes biblical duty? The track record, not so good.