Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent Thoughts--Fear and Trembling on the Road from Key West

Yesterday, my spouse and I drove down to Key West to see an old friend and her spouse (she's not old--it's just that I've known her since high school, which is getting to be a long time ago).

The drive down is beautiful, but it's hard to ignore the water lapping at the shore. It's hard to forget that those sea levels are predicted to rise to levels which will be catastrophic to the Keys--certainly by the end of the century, perhaps as early as within a decade or two.

I've been thinking of the apocalyptic nature of the Advent texts. If the Advent writers were writing today, would they use the language of global warming to talk in apocalyptic terms?

On our way back to the mainland, late at night, we listened to Peter, Paul, and Mary's Christmas album, which I recommend highly, and we sang loudly, all the better to keep ourselves awake. I thought about global warming and saving the coral reef as I sang this line from "Light One Candle": "We have come this far, always believing that justice will somehow prevail."

I wondered about justice for the coral reef and what that might mean for humans. If God answers my prayer that the coral reef be saved, would God need to rid the world of some humans?

Then I played one of my favorite narrative games: choose a catastrophe and see what happens next.

If there was a mass die-off not caused by global warming . . . let's say that the H1N1 virus combined with the H1N5 virus and became a lethal, highly contagious flu. If 80% of humanity died off in a year or two, would that be enough to save the planet? Or have we set so many forces in forward motion that the planet can't recover, even if most of us are not here to keep torturing it?

Not happy Advent thoughts, I know. Not the happy Christmas thoughts you'd expect a Christmas CD to inspire. But I came of age in the 80's--apocalypse is never far from my mind.

I could reread Cormac McCarthy's The Road, as lyrical a novel about the end as anything I remember. Or I could see the movie. But not this week-end. Today and tomorrow, I return to holiday festivity mode: events at church and meals with friends.

Today, as the sun rises, I remind myself of my core beliefs of our creator: our God does not want to destroy, even if destroying one part of creation saves another part. Our God wants to redeem creation, all of it, even those of us who don't deserve it. If we really believe in an all-powerful God, surely that God can save the coral reef without having to resort to the clunky tool of a mass die-off of humanity.

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