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Volume 12, Issue 3: Flotsam

Burning Oil

Nathan D. Wilson

There are times when a sunset seems wrong. Mostly these times come when the sunset is the only thing right about the moment. The stomach hurts; the throat is parched; the feet are fraying at the edges for whatever reason, and as a result of this collective misery, the eyes report a negative experience even though the scene before them is worthy of an epiphany.

This is not one of those times. My feet don't hurt, and my stomach is quite content. I have no excuse for the cynicism I will be accused of. Although I will weakly claim that I am not being cynical at all.
Not that there is anything wrong with sunsets. At least not any of mine. Sunsets get off the hook today. It's the Grand Canyon that's all wrong.
Christians, well pagans too actually, take way too much for granted. And I'm not talking about being grateful for ones supper. That goes without saying. I'm talking about the realms of beauty and goodness. We take issues for granted. We take rules for granted. We think we must vote for one of two people. We can't like Minnesota and Green Bay and so we must choose betwixt and between. Nobody says, "Hey, what about Seattle?"
We go through our lives constantly assuming without justification. We take sides constantly in everything we do. And we do all of it without intelligence. I like Nike not Reebok. South not North. Chevy not Ford. You're an environmentalist, I'm not. And that is the key. If you like it, I don't. If you think it, I won't.
I, in the not so distant past, sat through a seminar presented by a Christian environmentalist. He was quite competent and everything he said was good. But his paradigm was the same as his enemies. Something was wrong. He simply negated the postion of the pagans, and I think successfully, but he never stopped to attack the discussion on a more foundational level.
All of our positions are handed to us by our opposition. One of many current discussions where we are merely asserting the yin of our opponents yang is in the aforementioned environment debate. Specifically, in the discussion of fossil fuels. Where has all the oil gone? No, I'm not talking about the absurdly overtaxed gas prices in our recent past. I'm talking about the position of most of the establishment, which is to say the people who matter.
In theory, we are running out of oil. If our grandchildren want to lubricate an engine, they'll be left with nothing but the grease of their own foreheads. We, the evil oil consumers, do not abide by the basic nursery ethic of sharing, "Save some for the other children." Oh well, we know what to do about this. We'll deny it.
We don't consume that much oil. And besides, we've got a lot left. And how do you know how much there is any way? These are our intelligent responses. We'll even conduct studies demonstrating the fact that we have as much oil as the earth will ever need. And we might even be right. In fact we probably are, which is the depressing part.
Who wants oil? It's nasty stuff. It's thick, black, goopy, won't mix with water, won't come off in water, smells bad, and is in general a waste of space. What is more, we have a moral obligation to burn it all. Or find some other, perhaps healthier, means of removing every ounce of crude from this globe. Of course it shouldn't be our first priority, but we'll need to get to it sometime.
We were told to panic because we were running out of oil. This, of course, assumed that oil is supposed to be here. We bought into this premise even though we rejected the panic. We rest assured that we have plenty of the oobleck to last.
But all fossil fuels are death. Their deposits are the massive graves of millions of acres of living material that were entrusted to us for our stewardship. We do not know what it was like before that great deluge that destroyed our Garden, but we do know what it is like now. There is a lot of dead stuff. A lot of stuff that we killed.
The truth is that we goofed. We goofed and the Flood came. Through our sin we completely destroyed that with which we were entrusted. Our beds of fuel are the result of high rebellion against God and abdication on a collosal scale. How is it that we could possibly justify not cleaning up the mess? Of course, amillenialism aside, these messes will be cleaned up, and we'll have a party at the end of it. But it will take a lot of road trips in low gas mileage Suburbans before we get there.
Which brings us back to the Grand Canyon. Having driven past it many times in our attempt to use the oil, we will finally have that time when it doesn't look right. We will get out of our Suburbans and stand at the edge of that big scar, and we will realize that something must be done.
Yes the Grand Canyon must go. Not only have we deposited huge amounts of death in our sister's skin, we have taken the time to split her wide open at the middle. Yes, put it on the list, it must be taken care of.
The Grand Canyon is marvellous. It is terrible and beautiful, but so is a badly broken arm. There is truly wonder in every aspect of creation, even when it is smashed. But should we keep it smashed? The eighteen wheeler looks spectacular spread all over the ravine like that, but shouldn't we pick it up? Especially when we wrecked it?
Of course we should. So let the farce begin.

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