Sunday, July 23, 2006

Working out salvation

Having grown up in Southern Baptist dominated East Texas, which left me with the strong impression that whatever those Christians did this Christian wanted nothing to do with (which, yes, is actually very childish), I must confess a need to still do mental gymnastics to get around to some acceptance level with the concept of "sin" (I don't, for example, accept it as the universal condition of humankind, which makes me very unorthodox theologically, but far closer, I think, to what Paul understood; this, of course, is a matter of debate itself, and yet you can see where the mental gymnastics start). So when I read this:

THE Bishop of London has declared it sinful for people to contribute to climate change by flying on holiday, driving a “gas-guzzling” car or failing to use energy-saving measures in the home, writes Jonathan Leake.
I flinched. But then I realized two things: (1)the newspaper called it a "sin," not the Bishop; and (2) it's a moral question, and as such one not far removed from the existential morality of Jean-Paul Sartre, who argued that when we choose, we choose not just for ourselves, but for all mankind, a burden Sartre thought both unbearable, and unavoidable.

You can understand why Sartre was so concerned with freedom.

Because this is the reasoning behind the call, one I can't but agree with:

Richard Chartres will encourage vicars to preach more green sermons and warn congregations that it is now a moral obligation for Christians to lead eco-friendly lifestyles.

Chartres, who chairs the bishops’ panel on the environment, said: “There is now an overriding imperative to walk more lightly upon the earth and we need to make our lifestyle decisions in that light.

“Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin. Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.”
When we choose, we choose for everyone. It does make the command "Go, and sin no more" quite a bit trickier, but only because it turns us away from "sin=breaking God's arbitrary and complex laws" to "sin=selfishness." Which certainly returns us to working out our own salvation with fear and trembling; and that, I am sure, is a good thing. If only because it means I spend less time worrying about what you are up to.

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