Warning: Theology based rant!
I loved teaching the book of Genesis. I enjoyed taking a text that so many of my students felt comfortable with and helping them develop a new perspective for evaluating the text. I find Genesis to be the introduction to how to read the entire Bible- it establishes themes and motifs that are repeated throughout the text and once you can begin to understand how they were intended to be read in Genesis, you can then understand how later stories were to be read. Genesis reads like a great novel- sex, war, betrayal, romance- it has it all, including environmental responsibility. I’ve never been mistaken for a zealous, tree-hugging, hippy environmentalist, but my students may have questioned my tree-hugging status. In Genesis, we are called to have “dominion” over all of creation (Genesis 1:28 NRSV), to rule over creation just as an effective king would rule over his people. As we see with David and Saul (examples can be found throughout Judges, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings), an effective king is not one who rules with a selfish hunger for power (as we see leads to the fall of Saul) but one who rules with careful care over the people who are given into his care always mindful of the will of the creator who blessed him with that position. The same goes with our call to the environment: we are to care for the environment and not abuse it selfishly.
After over a hundred years of fossil fuel consumption, we have a need to find alternative fuels and energy sources. We drive vehicles that are not all that different than those first Model T’s to roll off Henry Ford’s assembly line. Even hybrid and electric vehicles still drive on the same consumption and waste principles that have driven the auto industry into near financial ruin. While we are working toward redesigning our entire infrastructure, we need to be doing our part to make changes where we have the power to make changes. Look in our classrooms- are we recycling or are we printing out unnecessarily and then tossing those pages in the trash? What lesson are we teaching to our students? One of my biggest questions is “why do we take biodegradable trash and shove it into non-biodegradable trash bags?” As I drive down the street, walls of 55-gallon trash bags crammed full of leaves create walls on either side of the road. While at a park I watched as a young woman picked up her puppy’s “droppings” and placed them in a plastic bag and then tied it off before throwing it into another trash bag in a public trash can. Why? My kids have guilted me into recycling, but at the same time I still throw out at least five bags a week full of biodegradable trash. It’s time we started taking a bigger stance so that our children learn from our example. Is the solution biodegradable trash bags, less packaging on our products, less consumption, or maybe an all-out change of perspective? Maybe we should rethink our infrastructure all together and become the leaders in transportation, technology, and growth once again. We ought not look at becoming paperless and moving toward alternative fuels simply because it would save us money, rather we need to be evaluating whether or not these policies are a proper way of caring for our dominion.