6:00 P.M. EST June 30, 2010
U.S. wildlife officials release a crate of brown pelicans into the wild
in Houma, La. U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class
The sun-glinted vacation serenity, the bottle-green water and sandy
white beaches (the most beautiful in America), the lazy motions of
dolphins offshore, the gentle tides, the freshest-tasting amberjack and
red snapper on earth …
As a Gulf state native, I know the Gulf of Mexico is a soul-restoring
oasis, a livelihood to millions, the blue-green home to a whole world of
underwater life, a zone also of hurricane fury – a place that deserves
and demands respect.
So the continuing oil hemorrhage in the Gulf, now in its third month, is
a matter of mind-numbing sorrow and stupidity. After 9/11, after a
nearly 10-year war, after Katrina, after the worst economy since the
Depression, the nation’s outrage and grief should be nearly exhausted.
But now this – 11 workers killed, their families deeply mourning, the
Gulf poisoned beyond belief. Outrage and grief are called on again.
And action, too. Christian action.
We can blame BP. We can blame lax government regulation. We can blame
the arrogant modern-life assumption that big technological answers have
no dire consequences. But I must look in the mirror. I have to see my
own connection to this oil disaster – my never-challenged expectation
that I should use as much daily fossil fuel as I want, as if it were a
We are a religious nation. Yet the American way of consumption makes no
connection to reverence, belief, ethics, awe, humility, courage,
discipleship. Consumer culture daily produces the illusion that there is
no friction between daily routine and belief, no contradiction between
excessive waste and biblical stewardship, no responsibility to be modest
as creatures of God’s green earth. Consumerism expects exuberance and
calls it patriotism, and we’re expected to be frankly unrepentant about
Cleanup efforts continue around Bay Jimmy near Grand Isle, La. U.S.
Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Zac Crawford.
The church has a different story to tell. Love of God and neighbor
leaves me no choice but to see the interconnections of this life,
connections between my lifestyle and its consequences on others. And
this is not easy to admit.
But change is possible. A helpful petition is circulating that gives churches words for prayer and ideas for action.
The petition composed at the 2010 Duke Divinity Center for
Reconciliation Summer Institute provides a litany of lament and
reconciliation asking worshippers to “mourn our complicity and active
participation in an economy based on toxic energy that has made such
Further, it urges a weekly Friday fast from foods that are trucked long
distances and rely on petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. It
asks that Friday be a day to walk or carpool or take the bus to work
rather than drive.
The petition urges that these practices continue until the oil cataclysm
is cleaned up and “the work of restoration of God’s creation in the
Gulf has begun.”
That restoration begins with precise prayers and honest soul-searching –
and with gratitude that we are given another chance to make it right.
*Waddle is a freelance writer based in Connecticut. More of Waddle's
articles are available in the "Wholly Bible" section of Interpreter
News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.