Two of my favorite bloggers (GreenBean and Arduous) have posted in the last day or two about comparisons between the evangelical community and the environmentalist community made in the book "Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility" by Ted Nordhausen and Michael Schellenberger. I haven't read the book yet, (I hope to soon) but it sounds like there is a significant paradigm shift in it's approach to the green movement. Environmentalist are being encouraged to adopt a church model, and help found a "Church of Climate Change" for the green movement.
As an evangelical, this naturally intrigues me. I find it sort of flattering that we are viewed as having some things that people are longing for: community, positive messages, a sense of peace and meaning, positive self-esteem, and even joy. And here I thought we were seen as a bunch of self-righteous kooks! It's refreshing to finally be viewed with a different lens.
Of course, it's also a little odd to think about a "church" that does everything that a church usually does, but without the God part. In fact, I honestly can't wrap my mind around that, no matter how hard I try. Christ is the center of the church. He's the reason it exists. When we go to church, He's all we talk about, all we sing about, the motivator for all our outward actions. In fact, He's the glue that holds us together, because, being human and all, we're too ornery to keep it all together on our own. No amount of trying to act nice would ever make our community possible. It's when people forget about Christ and start trying to make church happen on their own terms that it usually all falls apart.
A lot of perfectly nice people have wonderful social groups, whether it's a book club, a bowling league, the Farm Bureau, or the pals down at the Master Gardening office, and when someone gets sick or loses a family member or a job, the casseroles may come in, or the offers of baby-sitting, or the help cleaning up from the disaster. I've experienced that myself. I've also seen a few people who claimed church membership who could be pretty difficult to deal with. We are by no means a perfect bunch.
I have seen my green blogging friends wrestle with so many of the very same things we wrestle with at church: materialism and consumerism vs. asceticism; hopelessness vs. hopefulness; the value of individual action vs. corporate action; whether the political process has any value at all or should be abandoned; the difficulty of speaking truth to power; the necessity for, and fruitlessness of, self-discipline; long lists of "thou shalt nots" vs. freedom from guilt-inducing rules; fanaticism vs. moderation; feeling like the rest of the world views one as some kind of nut. I could go on and on about the similarities.
I have also observed green bloggers accept the fact that it may be necessary to live with alternative values in order find happiness and fulfillment, just as Christians have accepted the fact that we live in an inexplicable parallel universe with it's own alternate value system called the Kingdom of God. I have seen them search intensely for the truth that is hidden beneath the falsehoods of our culture. It's the thing I admire most about them- and I do admire them, prodigiously! Thank goodness for people who care about the truth!
I'm certainly not a better person than any of them, but I am part of the called-out-of-the-culture group called "the church of the Living God, who is the pillar and foundation of Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). That's where I live each day, in that Kingdom. Anyone who is actively seeking the truth is my near and dear neighbor. Left to our own devices, humans aren't going to find that much sought-after truth. But that's not a hopeless situation. I don't mean to say that I, personally, always know, without equivocation, the truth in every situation, but I know Who does.
That's the difference between the The Church of Climate Change, and the Church of the Living God: Who, ultimately, holds the Truth.