I Met God—S/He Hates Plastic
I can’t stop thinking about the whole Tucker Carlson, Chris Hayes thing. If you missed it, Carlson Tweeted:
Chris Hayes is what every man would be if feminists ever achieved absolute power in this country: apologetic, bespectacled and deeply, deeply concerned about global warming and the patriarchal systems that cause it
Part of my concern is that Tucker thinks feminism has some sort of control over eyesight.
Mostly, however, I’ve been mulling over something that has bothered me for some time—the subtle branding of ecology as fussy, emasculating, overdramatic, and illogical (mostly in terms of economics).
If you think I’m stretching or being dramatic for impact, I’m sadly not. A Pew Study in 2015 showed that although both men and women express concern about climate change, men are not only less likely to think it affects them personally, but also less likely to take individual responsibility to change lifestyle in order to help curb the problem.
My recent advocacy in green living and reducing plastic has certainly shown me that women are more likely to change their bad habits, but I’m not writing this to bash men. The truth of the matter is that we all have been leaning into the sin of human consumption, ignorance, and laziness.
Just this morning at the grocery store a woman caught me staring at her.
I’m not always the best in awkward social situations, so like an amateur I blurted out exactly what I was thinking: “Why did you put your bananas and garlic in plastic produce bags?”
She laughed and said it was probably just habit and isn’t plastic just awful, and those poor turtles…then she walked away—bananas, garlic, and a watermelon still snug in their individual plastic bags.
I try really hard not to be the lady who’s guilting everyone about their straws and plastic bags (well, apart from my family. Mom guilt has to go somewhere). Something I learned growing up on the mission field is that no one is going to listen to you if you’re coming at them with fear and guilt and anger.
But I wade in those feelings. We are in so much trouble. Why does no one seem to be doing anything about it?
Americans (especially white Americans) have been bred for generations to turn their backs on the consequences of our actions, while also telling ourselves that we have little control over our broader lives.
Alright, Sally social justice? So what?
This is a site about being Christian parents in a complex world. Why am I coming in hot and angry about sexism, Pew Research, Chris Hayes, and powerlessness?
First of all, I genuinely believe that we are in control of our actions and need to take our place in this world very seriously. There are few faiths in a world of billions of people that do not emphasize the drastic ripple effect of what you do—and how you will in some way account for it.
So why aren’t we Christians on the front lines in defense of creation?
I am the mother of boys (one and three). Every day I am barraged with the sins and sickness waiting to take hold of my family as we navigate our time on this earth—toxic masculinity, white privilege, sexism, American exceptionalism, and so on and so on. Yet on top of all that, caring for God’s creation and being stewards of this earth are targeted to us as being exhausting, overdramatic, a lie, or outside our purview.
Being a Christian is a lifestyle change of humbling oneself, service, and constant recommitment. There is nothing more in line with the faith than to nurture, preserve, care, tend to that which is damaged, and build toward healing.
We have sinned. We continue to sin. But we can do good in this world and provide justice and care.
Just look at Marie Kondo (bear with me on that abrupt change).
I watched her during very late night feeding sessions and sleepless baby nights and the thing that always struck me was her emphasis to stop and think of all the people and energy and resources that go into just one object.
That is a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude.
A personal walk of green living IS the walk of religious life asked of us by our maker. It is a journey of thoughtfulness, gratitude, and above all a respect for life.
The bishop of my church, the ELCA, recently wrote:
There is a tendency, especially in Western culture, for humans to see themselves as distinct from the creation. This positioning of human creatures as separate from the creation causes harm to the creation. We become the actors and creation is acted upon. The rest of creation becomes a commodity to be used as humankind sees fit. This has had dire consequences for our planet, the atmosphere around it and even space, which is now littered with our cast-off machinery. But setting ourselves apart from the creation is also physically and spiritually deadly for humans.
We are not God.
We serve God with appreciation and humility. We serve God by caring for God’s children and God’s creation. As Psalm 24 says, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
I call on all people, but especially my siblings of faith, to accept the transformative and life giving lifestyle of...life.
Conscientious, defending, humbling, affirming life.
It’s not easy.
Sin is tricky that way. It often seems easier and better to just stay put.
You will make mistakes (I’m looking at you shipping). You will slip and fall (I’m looking at you Ferrero Rocher). But the imperfect attempts of millions will make a far greater impact than the perfect lives of a handful of people. And if our home or our children’s future doesn’t motivate you, at least you’ll make Tucker Carlson mad.
Stephanie Bliese is a scholar, writer, mother, wife, and green living advocate who has a soft spot for the unusual. A recent graduate with a doctorate in church history and theology, she is an expert in Mormon Studies, charismatic belief systems, and fringe religiosity. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband and two young sons.