March 28, 2017—a dark day. . . dark like coal, dark like charred bodies, dark like torched farmland.
I had been warned. I was expecting to wake up on Tuesday to a headline like the one “Trump Set to Take an Axe to Climate Change Rules.” I expected to read something like The Atlantic’s lead paragraph: "On Tuesday, President Donald Trump will sign an executive order that will demolish his predecessor’s attempts to slow the pace of climate change. It is an omnibus climate directive that strikes across the federal government, reversing major rules that aim to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions while simultaneously instructing departments to ignore or downplay the risks of climate change in their decision-making."
I even expected that climate activist Bill McKibben would tweet, and he did: “Today, Trump orders an end to all federal action on climate change. Just think about that for a moment, and imagine what history will say.”
What I did NOT expect was the first headline that my wife Robynn read to me in the morning: “The airstrike in Mosul was potentially one of the worst U.S.-led civilian bombings in 25 years.” Likely numbers of civilian dead range from 130 to 230, which has nothing to do with climate change, but is the most heart-wrenching fodder for analogy.
I hate it when America does something stupid. I hate it when “pursuing higher goals” or “fulfilling campaign promises,” we abandon the better side of caution for the sake of the fell decision. In science, it’s called the “precautionary principle.” (I hate when we dismiss science out of hand.) I hate when Iraqi lives (or Syrian lives, or Muslim lives, or unborn lives, or poor lives, or Black lives, or Mexican lives, or female lives) are not accounted the same worth as ours.
Today I am angry.
McKibben’s comment is haunting. What will history say about Trump’s executive orders on March 28, 2017? History does speak, you know. It speaks from the past for sure. I can still hear Al Gore who heard Winston Churchill and quoted him in An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary credited with first warning us ten years ago of the suffering caused by global warming. Churchill said of Germany, as Gore was saying of climate change, “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”
McKibben of course means history speaking from the future back to us. That’s the approach of the second climate change movie I ever saw. Robynn and I drove all the way to Topeka in October 2009 to watch the simulcast premiere of The Age of Stupid. British actor Pete Postlethwaite plays an archivist in the year 2055. From his lonely redoubt over the melted ice of the Arctic, the archivist watches old news clips (actual video clips from us in 2008, from our networks, from our interviews, from our press releases) and wonders how could we be so stupid as to not listen to our best scientists, to our most compassionate colleagues, to our most prophetic Christians, to the ill-logic of our own inconsistencies?!
I hate it when America does something stupid.
The nice thing about history is that it extends so far out into the future, and extends out to its very end when Christ will return to pursue his higher goals, to fulfill all his promises. History also extends out into the hope of regular and serious incursions of God’s Kingdom NOW, today, on March 28, 2017 and every day that follows.
And so, I believe . . .
I believe that even before the next four years are out, Christians in America will rise up and resist the evil that they discover in the Trump/Bannon administration, even though they voted for what they thought was the good in him, his platform, or his political party. I believe that there are people today who, even before the next four years are out, will show up in the deserts of Iraq, or the famine-fed savannah of South Sudan, or the hurricane-scoured shores of the Philippines. They will cradle the dark heads of the devastated children of God in their laps and they will say, “I am late, but I am here now. I was too busy trying to bring coal jobs back to America, but I am here now.” I believe that Christians in America will rise up and tear down the idols of money, sex, and power that have been constructed in the high places. “I am a Christian,” they will say, loud enough to raise their morality and compassion back from the dead.
Part of our secret is that we will have listened to the prophetic imagination of theologian Walter Brueggemann who taught us that we—you, me, Trump resister, Trump voter—can be “history makers.” Brueggemann himself was listening to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah who “provides a paradigm for history-makers around these five items:
1 A profound sense of anguish, pathos, and incongruity that touches him personally.
2 Confidence in the moral coherence of the world.
3 Assertion of the raw sovereignty of God in the historical process.
4 Capacity for discerning social analysis and criticism.
5 Bold conviction about an alternative possibility that goes under the name of hope.”
Lest you think that Christians could/should never engage in the resistance that Trump/Bannon’s executive orders demand, Brueggemann informs us: “It will be clear that these elements are in fact, and are regularly perceived to be subversive. History-making, as I understand it, is a process of subverting public and institutional forms of power that have become frozen and absolutized in favor of some at the expense of others.” This suitably leaves us with the best headline of the day, this from my friend Kyle Meyaard-Schaap and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action: “Trump Executive Order on Climate Reflects Concern for Interests of Energy Elites Over Vulnerable People.”
If The Liberator Today has been meaningful to you, either this edition or previously, please consider supporting the environmental missions work of Lowell and Robynn Bliss. (Please note that The Liberator Today is independently published and has no affiliation with Eden Vigil or Christar.)