Archive for Saturday, June 5, 2010

Faith Forum: What would Jesus say about the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast?

June 5, 2010


The Rev. Josh Longbottom, associate pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.

It is our job to serve and preserve God’s green earth.

Popular theology has said that we are to subdue the earth and to have dominion over it. Argue the point, and someone is going to turn to Genesis 1:28 and say, “Look, it’s right here!” And it is, but according to my Hebrew professors, a lot has been lost in translation.

In English, the word dominion calls to mind the way tyrants treat people. But the word dominion in the Bible means to have power over and to treat with love. In fact, most often in the Bible, the word is used to describe the relationship that God has to us.

If God treated us the way we imagine we can treat the earth because we have dominion over it, then we would be in real trouble. The story of Genesis is that God created the earth and that “it was good.”

Who can disagree with the beauty of the earth? What artist hasn’t been inspired by the beauty of nature? It is as if God painted the Mona Lisa when making this earth, and we are busy spray-painting a mustache on it.

The first description of humans in the Bible is the story of Adam and Eve. They were placed in a garden to till and to keep it. But a better translation is to serve and preserve it.

For too long now, many people have been dreaming that a great God will come down from the sky and clean up all our troubles. But God did not make the world like that.

Our hands are supposed to get dirty. We are supposed to help with the evolution of the earth. We didn’t make the road, but we are in the driver’s seat, co-creating the future of this planet.

— Send e-mail to Josh Longbottom at

The Rev. Joanna Harader, pastor, Peace Mennonite Church, 615 Lincoln St.:

I could go into great detail about what I presume Jesus thinks about the oil spill— the greed and carelessness that led to it, the environmental and human tragedy it is leaving in its wake. Jesus was far from silent on issues of money, power and greed.

Still, Jesus was more likely to tell a story than to give a lecture. So rather than an essay, I submit to you a parable.

There was once a baker who had a good and kind master. The master’s household was a lovely and joyful place. Each morning the baker made bread. Each afternoon he went to market to buy flour. Each evening he ate his fill and laughed with his friends.

One afternoon, the baker bought his flour at a new stall, where it was surprisingly cheap. The next morning, the baker noticed that this new flour had sawdust mixed into it. He was surprised when no one complained about the bread. And so he continued to buy the cheap flour. He hid the extra money away for himself.

As the weeks went on, the baker noticed a slight pain in his stomach. And he noticed that some of the other servants were laughing less in the evenings and going to bed earlier. One morning, the master of the household did not get out of bed at all.

The baker was summoned to bring a loaf of bread to the master’s bedroom. While the baker was out of the kitchen, some of the sawdust flour tipped over into the fire, and the entire house burned to the ground.

“No servant can serve two masters; for the servant will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)

— Send e-mail to Joanna Harader at


anon1958 8 years ago

Anyone that actually has gone to the trouble to study the Bible (which apparently excludes about 98% of all practicing Christians) would know that Jesus would really not be concerned at all about any kind of ecological disaster. He told his followers in very explicit language that he would be back before their life ended.

Because Jesus believed he was coming back soon to blow up the world and torture everyone that didnt love him for all eternity there is hardly any reason to expect that the Nazarene would give a fig about any environmental crisis.

We have not had a really incredibly over the top stupid Faith Forum answer lately, so thanks for the laugh reverends. Shoehorning an eco-friendly green theological plank into the apocalyptic world ending architecture of the Nazarene's religion is pretty damn funny.

One hint for you though, quoting Genesis is not the best strategy at all when greening up Christianity because God destroyed the World's ecosytems in that interesting little book of fables.

mr_right_wing 8 years ago

Wow...such vile hatred. I'm not sure even the chief priests, pharisees and sadducees that put Him on the Cross could show more disdain.

Still......He loves you and doesn't want you to perish.

So remember, as hard as you try and slam that door, it's still open for now.

canyon_wren 8 years ago

What NINCOMPOOP comes up with these questions? Any person of faith who would bother to answer is only providing fuel for ridicule to non-believers. More damage is done by questions and answers like these than good.

John Kyle 8 years ago

I figure a guy who would kill a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season would probably not care at all about the gulf spill

John Kyle 8 years ago

I figure a guy who would kill a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season would probably not care at all about the gulf spill

yourworstnightmare 8 years ago

He could dip his feet in the gulf to be annointed with oil.

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

The FF is usually strange; this one may top it all. The beatitudes would suggest we all give till it hurts to help the newly poor folks who have lost everything and will not get it back for a generation or more, if ever. The BP disaster is a reminder of our greed and wastefullness, but the transformation to a new energy society will be even more painful than what we see today. The Supremes have reaffirmed corporations are people. If they are. we need to hit them in their 'heart' which in a corporate body is their wallet. For the executives who slipped and slid and cheated on the safety issues, real time in real jails would be appropriate as well. Sorry, not in a 'christian' mood over this preventable mess.

anon1958 8 years ago

I nominate the following as the best one-liner on the Journal World Forums for 2010!!!!!!!

beatrice (anonymous) says…

"I'm not walking on that!"

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, in reading some of these comments, I'm wondering why you all bother reading FF at all if it upsets you so much. What is your reason for reading FF?? As for your first comment, anon1958, I take exception with your opinion that "about 98% of all practicing Christians do not go to the trouble of studying the Bible" (I'm paraphrasing...). Where did you get your stats on that? How about this, either post your research material...or don't bother to make such a ridiculous assumption...ok? I don't think that's asking too much of you.

I am curious to know why you would bother to read FF when it seems to have the ability to make your blood pressure go sky your third paragraph you seem to be quite amused. My personal opinion is that you are an arrogant, educated fool (no disrespect to the educated...some of us manage to be educated and still have belief in our wonderful Lord). Only a fool would keep reading FF when all it does for you is upset you to the point of putting others down for their opinions. It's quite ok to have discussions, but what I'm reading isn't discussion, these are mostly put-downs from almost everyone to the point of harrassment for believing differently. Why don't you all just make it easy on your health and stop reading and responding to FF...unless you can do it in a respectful and calm manner.

I must admit that I do indeed realize what is truly at the bottom of all of your rude and arrogant statements and why you keep coming back to FF...there's something missing in your lives that the world out there just can't fill. I know. Many, many years ago I was where you are (except I didn't put others down as you all are doing)...but I was to the point of being an agnostic...and I was agnostic for years. As the saying goes, I didn't have enough faith to be an atheist!! I finally realized how patiently my Lord had been waiting for me to notice Him...He's such a gentleman. He's the love of my life...and He can fill that vacant place in your heart that is aching with a need for His great love. He's the only one who can fill that space made just for Him. You will fall in love with Him and you will be amazed at the change in your attitude...yes, it will will change. All will become new. What have you got to lose? Why not venture forth? You'll find Him worthy of your trust...He guaranteed it with His blood.

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