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Jesus, Trump and The Paris Climate Accord

June 2, 2017

For those who follow Jesus in one manner or another, did he say anything about climate change? Well, maybe…

Ever heard (or maybe sung, as a kid) “The wise man built his house upon the rock…”? When the flood hits, this man’s house stands.  The foolish man’s, built on sand (Mt. 7:26), cannot withstand the flood. Of course this is a simile.  Jesus’ says the wise builder is like the one who hears and does what Jesus says, not just hears but doesn’t act.

So this saying had nothing to do with weather, really… let alone climate over an extended period.  But the call to hear and act accordingly does apply to our current climate situation.  

And what is our Foolish-Man-in-Chief doing? He just took another step in building on sand… disavowal of the Paris Climate Accord.  Not that this, in itself, will necessarily mean a lot in practical terms.  But it is consistent with both rhetoric and policy that will make real differences… and it’s not houses or even the American economy at stake, but the welfare of the entire planet.  

He and fellow Republicans are rightly concerned about leaving a massive national debt to our kids and grandkids. But will that even come into play if the planet is barely hospitable and adequate food production unsustainable?

Even Trump implies, if he seldom states directly, that he accepts a human involvement in climate change. So my Trump-supporting friends (and some readers here?) might appeal to the obvious: We don’t know exactly how much we are affecting the climate or that it will necessarily lead to catastrophe.  But so what if we don’t? What is the “wise builder” approach vs. that of the “foolish builder”?    

And what words of Jesus should we be acting upon that relate to climate (and other environmental) challenges? I imagine you can think of others, but a critical principle he pounded upon, in saying after saying, parable after parable, was this: Act in the interest of others around you; sustain the foreigner and stranger. Be kind and cooperative (and only resist when the evil is clear and harming others).  Where is the message of competition? Encouragement to beat others out, to be “great again?” (Wasn’t there something in there about the one who is greatest will be least, and vice-versa?)

Sure, Jesus gave hints of supporting capitalism. I’d not say his message or his vision of the “Kingdom of God”, in earthly expression, was what we think of as socialism.  But it clearly was not about dominating or seeking to gain an advantage over others.  Just the opposite! 

O.k… some of you are probably thinking, “That was about personal behavior, not between nations”.  Don’t be too hasty! What can you base that on? Why should it not extend out to an international scale?

I like the approach of French President, Macron, much better than that of Trump, whose rationale for withdrawal from the Paris agreement was “Make America great again”.  Macron’s: “Make our planet great again”. Win together, not “We’ve been unfairly treated… we need a better deal…” The planet approach seems to follow the spirit of Jesus a lot closer.  What do you think?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. hoju1959 permalink
    June 2, 2017 11:21 am

    Howard, read an interesting book recently, The Evolution of God. When it’s talking about Jesus it makes the point that much of the character traits we attribute to Jesus — for example, universal love — were probably not part of the historical Jesus’ make up. In this case, the book says that if you look at the earliest strata of New Testament traditions, it appears Jesus just wanted the Jews to love other Jews. I bring this up because your post touches on the idea What Would Jesus Do? I read that a lot. Everybody seems to know what Jesus would do in a given situation. The truth is, we don’t know. The Jesus’ these people are pointing to is a mythical Jesus.

    • June 2, 2017 11:40 am

      Thanks. That title sounds familiar. Who is the author? It may be somewhat similar to an excellent one of 20 or so years ago by Gregory J. Riley titled “The River of God”, which looks at the historical development of Judaism/Christianity in relation to surrounding cultures and religious development.

      As to projecting our own perspectives onto Jesus…. definitely! Not only do WE do it, I’m convinced that it accounts for a lot that is in the Gospels and Acts. Paul imbibes some as well, tho less so, and HE is willing to claim direct revelation from God on the basis of his “conversion” experience and many subsequent ecstatic ones. I don’t think the Jerusalem leaders did this, despite the way Luke writes things up about them.

      If they did, it must not have been that impressive, as it didn’t get copied enough to survive. (For any traditionalists reading, there isn’t good reason to take “Peter’s” letters as really by him, nor James’, John’s [the Apostle], etc.)

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