I do not doubt the conviction of most preachers. It’s hard to go out on the pulpit and be heard when there isn’t a genuine love and affection for an imaginary figure that is probably God. For me, as a man of Catholic Faith, I often wonder at the misguided directions people go to find their faith, and to create a community around an idea. When I see the climate change deniers preaching lies from the pulpit, I am disgusted not because of the science denialism, but because of the attempt to separate this group of parishioners ideologically and tribally not only from mainstream society, but from good human practices and anyone not a member of this or that community. I have no patience for faiths that operate like sorting hats, putting people in one camp or another, heaven or purgatory or hell. This action is done by ministries that are more concerned about delineation and profit than about practical and positive impacts in their communities. The creation of a tribe that stands outside the mainstream binds the community of faith together strongly, because there’s no one else they can talk to without bumping up against the illogic and magical thinking being promoted in their faith community. And, saying this or that group is damned, well… There is too much work to be done in this life to be so concerned about where someone else is going to go in the next. First, let us do the work of faith by looking around and seeing what needs to be done in this life.
Regarding climate change, I attended an interesting talk last Friday held by an Evangelical Christian and Environmental Scientist who very much asserts that climate change is super-duper real, and hey, whoa, we need to get on top of that immediately or it will be very bad. Hey. Hey, everybody. Hey, you guys, can we… Hey, let’s do something to save our world, you guys!
One of the interesting things I learned is that in every community around the country with a Catholic majority, particularly Hispanic Catholics, climate change science is widely accepted as legitimate and a serious concern. A sociologist studied this and learned it was because the Catholic Church openly preaches about climate change and doing something about it. The overwhelming scientific consensus is not just clear, it’s dire and frightening and scientists are actually understating how dire and frightening it actually is.
So, let’s tell a joke to all the climate change deniers, who want to deny the science and the practical things. It is a common joke among the homilies. I’ve heard it dozens of times from different pulpits and different faiths. Here it goes.
So, there’s a flood coming. It’s going to be bad. Everyone needs to evacuate. But, this one woman is a devout Christian, and she is praying for a miracle to save her, and she has faith and just knows that she will be all right. A truck comes up and sees her in her window praying, and they screech to a halt and run out and bang on the door. They want to help her evacuate before the flood comes. But she shuns them and sends them on their way. God will protect her. She just knows that the flood will not touch her as long as she keeps praying. The men in the truck, exasperated, leave before the flood can wipe them away.
When the flood begins, she has to climb up into the second story of her house. She keeps praying, there, just praying and praying that the floodwater will not touch her. She opens a window to look up at the sky and pray to God. A boat comes by, looking for survivors, and they call out to her, and they try to get her out of her house, but she swears that she will be fine, because God will save her. Soon, she’s up on the roof, praying to God, certain that salvation will come, a miracle will occur, and the floodwaters will never touch her. A helicopter flies by, after hearing reports from the boat, and they try to get her up on a ladder, but she just keeps praying and praying. She won’t leave.
So, within about two hours, she’s up in heaven, and she is furious with God.
“God, I was praying and praying! I have been faithful to you my whole life. I thought you were going to save me!”
God crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at his ungrateful servant. “Lady, I sent you a truck; I sent you a boat; I even sent you a helicopter in the middle of a storm. What more did you want?”