When I think of good Christians I think of close-knit families with spotless houses and beautiful lawns. The most successful people I know, those whose lives are full of love and happiness, are my Christian friends, because I equate big loving families with social success. These same people have great houses and yards. Most of my non-believing friends tend to be childless, and like myself, self-centered, and our homes and yards show a difference. Its odd, but I think our philosophical differences are reflected how our lawns compare. My neighbors with the best lawns seem to be family oriented and Christian, whereas my own lawn is weedy and chaotic. And the lawns of my Christian friends who don’t have children seem to fall in between.
The history of western civilization and Christianity has been one long war with nature. Christians believe they have dominion over the Earth and wish to subdue nature. That’s reflected in their lawns and gardens. A well ordered yard reflects a well ordered mind, or so we thought.
The faithful think atheists are amoral, but most ardent nonbelievers I know tend to be liberal with strong beliefs about improving society, helping the needy and living ethical lives, but sometimes our personal habits reflect disorder. Atheists I would contend, lean towards embracing nature, rather than ruling over it. If I had my druthers I’d let my yard run wild and encourage more wildlife to settle in it. We use to have a fox that lived in my neighborhood that would run through my backyard, but sadly it was killed by a car. I’m not totally crazy—I don’t want nature coming in my house, but as long as fellow creatures don’t attack me, I don’t mind sharing my yard with as many plants, animals and insects as the natural ecology allows.
I want a Darwinian lawn. I also want a lawn that helps the Earth and our species. I want to lawn to helps other species from going extinct. I want to coexist with nature and not dominate it.
I’ve often wondered about landscaping my yard so it would be perfectly adaptable to our changing climate. I’d like the plants and other living things to adapt to the emerging weather patterns so I wouldn’t have to fertilize and water anything. I’m not sure my neighbors and zoning czars would think about that though. However, as soon as the perils of climate change are accepted by good Christians and they realize they must be stewards of the Earth and not conquerors, they might change their minds too.
For all their talk of heaven, Christians embrace life on Earth. Deep down they aren’t the kind of people who commit suicide or pull the plug when the going gets tough. They fight for life to the bitter end—and when it becomes all too obvious that they are committing species-cide they might change their minds. We atheists accept personal extinction, but we hate the thought of humans dying off. One day, both sides of the spiritual divide might agree on a new approach to lawn care.
For every gallon of gas you burn the warmer you make it for your descendants. For every pesticide you add to the environment the more you poison your children, their children, and their children’s children, and so on until the Earth is cleaned up. Denying manmade climate change is denying your own sins against the Earth, and the crimes you are committing today will burden far more than three generations. Easy Christianity has convinced millions to shirk their debts, because isn’t sin incurring debts to others?
Okay, I’m an atheist, so I can’t expect you to speak my language, so let me try to speak yours. One Christian book that impressed me was The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Modern Christianity has made the pardon of sins way too easy. There has to be more to grace than just claiming belief. What humanity has done to planet Earth is one giant cross that we must all bear. You can’t escape your sins by denying they exist anymore than running away from them by believing. We live by our actions, and any grace you seek must be earned by how you live and not how you think.
JWH – 5/12/14