Sometimes it is very difficult to trust in God’s providential care and in a hopeful future. Today was one of those days for me. It started out hopeful enough. Early this morning, I learned that the Markey-Waxman bill that fights global warming by a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions (which may help both the federal deficit and the economy as a fringe benefit) made it out of committee to the full House of Representatives. Wow, I thought. If the Senate doesn’t block or water this down, we may get the first real action on climate change in this nation–after decades of doing nothing. (I don’t know whether to be angrier at the Bush administration, which claimed for 6 of its 8 years that global warming was a hoax–relenting only after the PENTAGON classified it as a bigger national security threat than terrorism–or the Clinton administration which KNEW the danger and betrayed its campaign promises by doing nothing because they were afraid of losing support from the business community.)
But then I realized that, EVEN AT IT’s BEST, the Waxman-Markey bill would only lower carbon emissions 7-10%, lower than what the EU, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, and even latecomer Australia are doing. And, because global warming is happening faster than originally predicted, it is FAR less than what climatologists think we need to stop global climate catastrophes: About 50% carbon emission reductions by 2030! Yet, trying to increase the bill to that amount is simply not politically possible–the entire bill would be defeated and we’d be back to doing nothing, again.
So by the time we headed for church, I was pretty pessimistic about the future. One of my daughters tried to cheer me up–reminding me of the huge strides we are making in some areas of justice–such as gay rights. I wasn’t very receptive. Let’s see, I thought, “we now have civil marriage equality in 6 states. Only 42 more to go in this nation. At that rate, gays and lesbians will be able to marry just in time for massive global-warming related famines in Africa, losing several island nations to the ocean, hurricanes that make Katrina seem like a gentle breeze, worldwide refugees in the millions, increased “resource wars,” massive global species extinctions, and killer storms across the MidWest.
Fortunately, everything at church today seemed to speak to my condition, to paraphrase Quaker founder George Fox. We sang, “Do not fear to hope.” The sermon reminded me that God chooses unlikely vessels for change and amazing outcomes. I needed reminding.
The facts have not changed. (Please no comments trying to convince me that global warming is a hoax. I’ve read the many detailed reports of the climatologists. I’m in no mood for attempts to cheer me up by denial and might just delete any such comments. I am certainly in no mood to DEBATE the science behind the climatologists’ warnings.) We are still preparing an INADEQUATE response–one that would have been more suitable for the late ’80s or early ’90s when there was more time. (The longer we put off responding, the more extreme our actions will have to take by the time all the skeptics are convinced–and it will be too late.) It still looks like too little, too late.
But God is still GOD and I cannot believe that God has abandoned this planet–no matter how we humans have messed up our stewardship. I have no idea how God is working to save this creation, but I know God is working. Maybe, just maybe, Waxman-Markey, while inadequate in itself, will be the crack that opens the dam of creative political will to do what is necessary to save our world. Maybe we can add carbon taxes to speed up the work of a cap-and-trade system. Maybe the Waxman-Markey bill will finally show the world that the U.S. is serious about fighting climate change and helps bring in China and India to a new post-Kyoto treaty at Copenhagen. I don’t know.
Sometimes faith and hope are hard. Despair is easier. But as the hymn says, “Do not fear to hope, though the wicked rage and rise. Our God sees not as we see, success is not the prize. Do not fear to hope, for though the night seems long, the race shall not be to the swift, the fight not to the strong.” Amen. Lord, I believe–Help, Thou, my unbelief.
I will reprint here hymns and spiritual songs that are excellent, but not as well known throughout Christian churches as others.
Walls That Divide
1)Tho’ ancient walls may still stand proud
and racial strife be fact,
tho’ boundaries may be lines of hate,
proclaim God’s saving act!
Walls that divide are broken down, Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside, Christ is our liberty!
2)When vested pow’r stands firm entrenched
and breaks another’s back,
when waste and want stand side-by-side,
it’s gospel that we lack!
3)The truth we seek in varied scheme,
the life that we pursue,
unites us in a common quest
for self and world made new!
4)The Church divided seeks that grace,
that newness we proclaim;
a unity of serving love
that lives praise to God’s Name!
5)This broken world seeks lasting health
and vital unity;
God’s people in the Christ made new,
cast off all slavery!
Words copyright 1974 by Walter Farquharson.