Everywhere that I go in the last few days people have been commenting on the weather: how humid it has been and how unseasonally wet this amount of rain is. More importantly, people have been talking to me in quasi spiritual terms about the weather, as if this kind of weather has some meaning.
Well they would not be alone there! Ever since the story of Noah came into existence, the human race has been connecting events in the weather with the spiritual condition of the human race. Psalm 107 expands the idea by connecting soil salination with the sinfulness of the population when it says ‘He (God) turns a fruitful land into a salty waste because its inhabitants are evil.
Most people have made this connection. Here is a quote from Mid- summer Night’s Dream, where the weather is blamed on the custody battle between the king and queen of the fairies over a young boy. Titania (the queen) blames Oberon (the king) for the bad weather saying
“But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport. Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea Contagious fogs; which falling in the land Have every pelting river made so proud That they have overborne their continents:”
I have also heard on the talk-back radio some people making comments to the effect that the ‘bad’ weather is God’s judgment on the two big social changes that have been made in Australia in recent times: the passing of same-sex marriage legislation, and the passage of assisted dying legislation.
I think this connection needs some unpacking.
First of all I do not think that there is a direct connection between the weather and social changes, which have no causal pathway which would connect social conditions at any given time to God’s judgment.
So I do not think that the weather has anything to do with same sex marriage, and assisted dying.
But I have seen a fruitful land turned into a salty waste!
When I was studying agriculture, I lived in a place with river flats that gave way to treed hillsides. The clearing of the hillsides for pasture reduced the transpiration of water from the hills, and so caused the water table on the flats to rise. This brought salt with it, and so ruined he lucerne and other crops that were grown there.
Here is a clear case where ignorance (living in darkness) and sinfulness (lack of good stewardship of the environment, and lack of understanding about the responsibility we bear, one for the other) means that a once ‘fruitful land’ has been turned into a ‘salty waste’.
In this case I am happy to see these natural consequences as God’s judgment on our sinfulness, because he sinfulness directly affects the natural order.
The same can be said for the current weather, including the increasing variability of the weather patterns, and the increasing frequency of cyclones and hurricanes.
These, the scientists tell us are consequences of the increasing pollution of the atmosphere by carbon dioxide and other green house gasses.
We cannot say that we have not been warned. To refuse to do anything about this lack of care for the whole creation, which is a trust, given to us by God, is a willful blindness. This is a definition of sin. If we persist, we cannot complain about the weather.
The Gospels for this Sunday call on us to ‘stay awake’. I think that being in denial about the connection between the weather and our selfishness is a decided form of ‘being asleep at the wheel’. Our politics is captured by vested interests. This state of captivity prevents the politicians who are serving these interests from moving in the way that everyone knows that we need to go.
Again, we are asleep at the wheel, preferring to be blind than to see.
Those who cry ‘jobs, jobs, jobs” and go ahead with destroying the environment are the same people who, in the name of market forces, refuse to help those people whose jobs are at stake if we do the environmentally sensible thing. Again, willful blindness is a sin.
Now here is a complicating factor. Some of those who are ‘climate change’ deniers claim to be ‘awake’. They see a conspiracy behind the attempts to reduce our carbon emissions. I know one person who in an attempt to ‘stay awake’ thinks that the earth is flat, and that the moon landing was a set up job.
Everyone I suppose wants to think that they are ‘awake’ and that the rest of us are duped.
This reflection is a cry for the righteousness that comes from a responsible stewardship of the environment, and a commitment to one another as brothers and sisters, rather than ‘economic units’ in the religion of the ’Market’
Your companion ‘on the Way ‘