Honoring God more important than Earth

Curtis Shelburne

I’m afraid I’ve discovered that I’m not very “Green.”

Whenever we fall to self-righteousness, we are religious about it, but overtly religious people have in no way cornered the market. Chest-thumping of any sort is every bit as effective as Bible-thumping if you want to be a self-righteous jerk. All you need is one or two areas in life where you have convinced yourself that you are a cut above the masses, and you’re well on your way.

I’ve always been pretty partial to green as a color, but I don’t care for it much as a political perspective. It seems off-color. Nauseatingly politically correct. Rife with self-righteousness. Long on hoopla and short on substance. Loud but shallow. Shot through with the kind of deadly sanctimony that always ends up looking silly, fallen in on itself due to the weight of its own pomposity. (Its most serious disciples make me think of dour-faced guppies holding meetings about how to save the ocean which neither knows about, cares about, or needs their help.) The most devoted Green folks display a fervor once reserved for religious experience and seem almost intoxicated by the new truths they have seen and discovered.

Discovered? New? It’s as if they have suddenly set foot on a new continent and planted a flag of bold discovery. Columbus’ discoveries in America were news in Europe in the late fifteenth century, and we can still work up some excitement on Columbus Day once a year, but the whole thing kind of got over being new news a good while back.

I hope we never forget the lessons we learned during WWII, but if I prance around today carrying a sign proclaiming, “Germany Surrenders!” I needn’t think it strange that some might think me strange.

Those who best honor God as the Creator have always been those with eyes most open to the beauty of his creation. The best stewards of God’s good earth have never been those marching on Washington or Rome or Paris demanding Greenness, they’ve been those quietly tilling the soil and taking care of the land for generations knowing that God has used it to take care of them. They were Green a long time before it was cool.

It’s wise to worship and honor God, and, if you do so well, the earth will get her due. But if you worship the earth, it seems to me that both God and the planet end up short-changed. (I like holidays, but Earth Day has always just seemed a tad on the pagan side.)

It is, of course, easy to see why “greenness” as a religion would be appealing. The earth, being impersonal, can’t ask or require a thing of the beings who worship it. Neither can it truly love us, no matter how much we love it.

The best reason for loving the earth is that, even fallen, it still reflects the beauty of its Creator. I love this good earth and care for it best when I love its Creator far more.