Thursday, March 22, 2007

Day Trip

Despite all the homework and grading I REALLY ought to be doing, one of my seminary friends and his wife and I all went on a day trip today. We travelled up the west coast of Lake Michigan since it was raining on the east side. We took a tour of the Jelly Belly factory and then went to a state park somewhere north of Milwaukee. It was really nice to get out of the city and see the lake shore in a quasi-natural state (there were still bits of pink Styrofoam floating in the rocks at water's edge and the occasional plastic bottle lodged into piles of shells).

I am absolutely convinced that God is revealed in nature. And God works in nature. Of course humans are natural too and therefore human-made items must be, in some way, natural. And God obviously works in humans. But you know what I mean--the non-human made stuff out there in the world is pretty revelatory. I feel closer to God from going out and walking on the beach. I feel more at peace.

But we don't have much "nature" left really. And although it is possible to enjoy the little bits-- the snowdrops and crocus flowers blooming in the yards along Woodlawn Ave-- it is sometimes very helpful to get the more dramatic dose of nature. Not everyone gets that opportunity. And if everyone did go out and walk on the beach like I did today, the beach wouldn't stay "natural" for very long. It's an interesting balance. We are in a position very different than the one that confronted biblical peoples. Then there was a struggle to survive for humans in a large world of "nature." It was necessary to be fruitful and multiply or we might not have made it as a species. Now the tables have turned.

I am faced with a series of dillemmas when I think about the Earth and "environmentalism." First. I come from a large family and I think I derived a lot of benefits and life lessons from the size of my family. But if I ever have a family of my own, should I keep it small because of the overpopulation of the earth? I love taking unnecessary road trips, but I probably hurt the environment by driving with fossil fuels. Think globally, act locally. How can you act when you are crippled by the enormity of the problem of thinking globally? What can we do when there are so many people alive and we want to keep them all alive and yet the world is straining under the bulk of our population? What happens if only certain factions in society curb their reproduction-- when the demographics of the society change will the environment be in better or worse shape if only those who don't seem to care as much bear and raise children?

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