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I have a bunch of questions about the legalities of what happened on the United Express flight – questions about contract law and the legal authority of airline employees to kick someone off a plane. But this reflection isn’t about the legalities. This reflection is about two other issues:  morality and being an upstander.

Father James Martin does a great job cutting through the noise to get to some of the moral questions in this “short take.” I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I’ll quote a couple paragraphs. He writes, “When we watch the video of the event something in us says, ‘That’s not right.’ Pay attention to that feeling. It is our conscience speaking. That is what prompted the widespread outrage online – not simply the fact that people who have been bumped from flights share in the man’s frustration but the immorality of a system that leads to a degradation of human dignity. If corporate rules and the laws of capitalism lead to this, then they are unjust rules and laws.”

As the headline of the “short take” says, “The United Airlines debacle … is about the morality of capitalism.” And my conclusion is that capitalism, at least as it is practiced in most of the United States today, is immoral. It places profit over people – every time.

Martin goes on, “Someone in authority – pilots, stewards, ground crew – might have realized that this was an assault on a person’s dignity. But no one stopped it. Why not? Not because they are bad people:  They too probably looked on in horror. But because they have been conditioned to follow the rules.”

I’ve been wondering about those of us who are not “someone in authority.” We, too, have been conditioned to follow the rules and laws, even when the rules and laws are unjust. So, what would I have done if I had been a passenger on that airplane? Would I have stood up against the unjust assault on my fellow passenger’s dignity, knowing full well that doing so would likely get me ejected from the aircraft and possibly arrested?

What keeps me from being an upstander (as opposed to a bystander) when systems and authorities act immorally?

I think the answers are:  fear and conditioning.  I also think that Jesus calls me beyond my fear and conditioning. May I follow that call.

A sermon preached at Hillcrest Congregational Church, Pleasant Hill, CA
on Sunday, October 6, 2013, by the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer.
Scripture:  Esther 4:1-17 and Matthew 25:31-40
Copyright © 2013 by Jeffrey S. Spencer

The book of Esther is a distinctive book in the Bible because it is the only book in the Bible that doesn’t directly mention God.  It is also the basis for the annual Purim festival celebrated by Jews each spring.  If you’ve never been to a Purim schpiel, find an observant Jew to invite you to their synagogue.  They can be a real hoot as the retell the Esther story, a story replete with good guys and bad buys.

The chief bad guy is Haman.  The chief good guys are Mordecai and Esther.  The Jews are in exile in Persia and Haman decides to get rid of them all by killing them.  And this is where we pick up the story.  Esther 4:1-17 (NRSV):

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.  In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them.  Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.

Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews.  Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.

Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said.  Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law – all alike are to be put to death.  Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.”

When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish.  Who knows?  Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maids will also fast as you do.  After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

If your congregation is like most United Church of Christ congregations (at least in our Conference) there are some of you who are uncomfortable with the word “sin.”  It is a word that definitely carries plenty of baggage with it.  But there are situations where the actions or plans of the powers that be are sinful.  To use a lesser word fails to speak God’s truth.

When Haman plotted to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire, that was sinful.  It wasn’t just “wrong.”  It wasn’t just “a bad choice.”  Pogroms are sinful.

But when the rulers, the people with power decide they are going to undertake such sinful acts, what is a common person supposed to do?  All too often we sell ourselves short, denying the power we have.  All too often individuals have power they aren’t aware of.  All to often people aren’t aware of how power can be made manifest when people band together in community.

Esther was in a position where she thought she had no power.  She was a Jew who had been forced into a beauty pageant so the king could select a new wife.  The old queen had been cast out for exercising her power.  Commanded by the king to come before him and a bunch of powerbrokers so the king could show her off, Vashti refused.  Not only was this an insult to the king and the other elites in his court, but word might get around and all the women in the kingdom could become uppity and start exercising their power.  So Vashti was cast out and Esther was forced into becoming queen.

What power did Esther have?  None she assumed.  Then the plans of the king’s number two, Haman, to kill all the Jews became known to her.  What could she do?  Perhaps, Mordecai told her, you were made queen for just this moment, “for such a time as this.”

What Esther decided to do could be called non-violent direct action.  It could be called civil disobedience.  Risking not just arrest but also execution, she decided to exercise her power and speak truth to the king.  It turns out that the risk paid off, Haman died, and the Jews were saved.  But even if Esther had been killed for speaking truth to power, it still would have been the right thing to do.

Sometimes sin needs to be confronted even if doing so is against the rules or against the law, even if doing so comes with great personal risk.  We’ve seen this truth in the United States.  The fact that God’s truth can sometimes be offensive to some people was all too clear to the people who put their bodies on the line in the Civil Rights movement.  And that included preachers.  In fact, clergy were at the forefront of the movement.  But that makes sense.  Civil right is a moral issue.  In fact, civil rights was the moral issue of that day.  Making visible the humanity of each person was paramount to the cause.  You can’t get much more biblically grounded than that:  recognizing the humanity of every person.

Today, we are faced with another moral issue.

IPCC-AR5-coverThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report released last week says that, with 95% certainty, human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels, is causing climate change.  95% certainty.  I was trying to think of what things scientists are probably more certain about.  Gravity, I suppose.  How evolution works (it’s been observed, so scientists are pretty certain about that).  The evolution of human beings is probably up there.  But I can’t imagine scientists being that certain about string theory.  And maybe not even about the Big Bang Theory.

In other words, the science about climate change is clear.  Climate change “is, or should be, dry science, an entirely rational question that should be addressed by economists, engineers, scientists working on our behalf and with our thanks; a democratic process, difficult but not controversial.  No one has a prejudice against chemistry, an animus about physics.  A moral issue?  Almost the opposite.  Opinion isn’t the issue; no one’s heart should need changing.

“But it’s not happening.  For [over] 20 years now scientists and engineers and even many economists have spoken with rare unanimity: we need to use much less fossil fuel, and very quickly.”[1]  We need to do this.  We need to stop dumping the carbon – currently sequestered underground in those fossil fuels – into the atmosphere (and through the atmosphere, into the oceans).  You see, if we don’t stop dumping carbon into the atmosphere, we will cause severe damage to ecosystems worldwide.

Already, California’s farm belt is facing some thorny challenges from our changing climate.  Rising temperatures, an uncertain water supply, and more abundant pests are threatening the nation’s salad bowl.[2]

Dr. Terry Root, Senior Fellow at Stanford University Woods Institute, explains the dangers and damage of climate change:

“Plants and animals are already going extinct.  They are going extinct 100 times faster than the did 1000 years ago, and as the climate continues to warm, we’re going to lose more and more and more species because we’re going to have more surprises happening.  We are going to have a mass extinction event that could happen in the next two hundred to three hundred years.  ‘Mass extinction event’ means that we loose half or maybe there-fourths of the number of species we have on the planet.  Are we going to losing the plants that clean our water?  the plants that clean our air?  If there’s no pollinators out there to pollinate, then we’re going to have to do it by hand – and they’re already doing that in China, having to go out and pollinate their crops by hand.”[3]

Because of thermal expansion and melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, sea level rise that will happen in my niece and nephew’s lifetimes will be somewhere between a foot and a half and three feet – minimum.  “That doesn’t sound like a lot if you live up in the Rocky Mountains, but if you live down in Chesapeake Bay, along the Gulf Coast of the United States, in the Ganges flood plain, that matters a lot.  It matters in China.  It matters in Indonesia.”[4]

According the National Geographic scientist and photographer James Balog, “A minimum of one hundred fifty million people will be displaced [by sea level rise alone] – that’s like approximately half the size of the United States – and all those people are going to be flushed out and have to move somewhere else.  It also intensifies the impact of hurricanes and typhoons.  It means that there’s a lot more high water along the coast lines so when these big storms come it pushes that much more water that much further inland.”[5]

This is why I’ve been saying for several years that climate change is the moral issue of our day.

In Matthew 22, a lawyer asked Jesus what the most important commandment was.  Jesus’ said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And he quickly added a second commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself.  “On these two commandments,” Jesus says, “hang all the law and the prophets.”  As the great Jewish rabbi Hillel said of these two great commandments, “Everything else is just commentary.”[6]

1264194_10151861723847708_2112051364_oThen we get to Matthew 25 and Jesus tells an allegory about the great judgment.  Nations are gathered before the king who judges them according to how well they treated “the least of these.”  Climate change is having and will continue to have the greatest impact on the poorest people on the globe.  Those who are least responsible for causing climate change and most impacted by it.  They will be the first climate refugees – a new category of what the UN calls “displaced persons.”  They are the ones who will face the water shortages and famines – or the extreme flooding, disease, and famine.

People starving is a moral issue.  People displaced from their homes and sometimes their nations is a moral issue.  And the wars that may well come over food and water – that too is a moral issue.

How sad it is that we have made “the science of climate one more political football – just another issue we square off over, as if physics was simply one more interest group.  As things stand, we are nowhere near taking the decisive action that might give us a chance of avoiding the most devastating kinds of warming; as coral bleaches, deserts grow, and ice sheets melt across the planet, we’re just marking time.”[7]

This is why two and a half years ago, Bill McKibben said it was time “to mount a campaign of mass action, of civil protest, of dignified disobedience.  Its goal would not be to shut down the fossil fuel system – that system is much too big and too pervasive to be shut down, since it powers every action we take from the moment we wake up.  The campaign’s aim, instead, would be much simpler:  to demonstrate the sense of urgency that this issue requires.  It would be in the nature of a witness.”[8]

Bearing witness is our business, the church’s business.  That’s what Esther was doing when she went to see the king.  That’s what I was going on August 3rd when I went to the Chevron Refinery in Richmond and was arrested.  Climate change is the moral issue of our day and the religious community needs to be putting our bodies on the line to bear witness to this moral issue and to speak truth to power.  And preachers need to be in the forefront of this work.

I know this sounds like a radical action.  It’s not.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

It is deeply conservative.  “What’s radical is to double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and just see what happens – no one, not Marx or Mao, has ever proposed a change as radical as that.  Those radicals backed by the fossil fuel industry flirt with destroying the planet’s physical systems, and they do it so a few of us can keep our particular way of life a decade or two longer; that’s not just radical, it’s so deeply irresponsible [and immoral] that there’s really no precedent.”[9]

So climate change is the moral issue of our day and the church is called to lead our people to freedom.  Amen.


ENDNOTES
[1] Bill McKibben, “Disobedience,” The Christian Century, http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2010-12/disobedience (posted 27 December 2010; downloaded 1 August 2013).

[2] KQED-FM ran an interesting radio special, “Heat and Harvest,” on 31 August 2013 that focused on this problem.  See http://www.kqed.org/a/radiospecials/R201308310100

[3] Dr. Terry Wood, Dr. Terry Root, Senior Fellow, Stanford University Woods Institute, interviewed in the 2012 movie “Chasing Ice,” transcribed by me.

[4] James Balog, National Geographic scientist and photographer, interviewed in the 2012 movie “Chasing Ice,” transcribed by me.

[5] Ibid.

[7] McKibben, op. cit.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

IMG_0342

I’m planning to publish by Saturday night my personal voter guide to the 11 state-wide proposition on California ballots in next month’s election.  I’m going to be sharing my opinions because, well, I’m hoping I might influence some of my fellow Californians.

That said, I am also working on being aware of other points of view and I think this video of Jonathan Haidt will help me do that.  I find his argument compelling and it seems to ring true to my personal experience:  that we are all moral creatures, or moralities undergird out values, and we all think we’re right; and there are five areas that make up the foundations of morality (harm/care; fairness/reciprocity; in-group/loyalty; authority/respect; and purity/sanctity).  Haidt goes on to say that when there is righteous disagreement, it is because we are heightening the importance of one (or some) of these foundational areas when others are heightening the importance of some other foundational area(s).

I invite you to watch it, too:

A sermon preached at Niles Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Fremont, on Sunday, February 13, 2011, by the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer.
Scripture:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Copyright © 2011 by Jeffrey S. Spencer

I don’t typically talk much about science in my sermons.  I find no tension between science and religion. It’s just that I’m a pastor and a teacher, not a scientist, and I don’t like talking about things that I don’t understand.  So, when Interfaith Power and Light encouraged faith communities across the country to participate in a preach-in on global warming this weekend, I paused.  In order to really talk about the moral consequences of global warming and climate change – climate chaos, as I recently heard it called[1] – I have to talk about science.  Luckily the basics of the science of global warming and climate change are not all that difficult to understand.  So I’m going to state today’s sermon talking about history and science.  I’ll get to the God stuff, I promise, in a little bit.

The oldest civilizations started after the last ice age, after the beginning of the Holocene Epoch, about 11,000 years ago.[2]  The dawning of agriculture enabled the creation of cities, and the dawning of agriculture was possible because there were global climate changes that caused the end of the last ice age.  Civilizations have been built on the water resources and agriculture that is possible to harvest because of the current climates around the world were warm enough that the glaciers receded out of the valley and still cool enough that the glaciers stayed in the mountains to feed the rivers on which the agriculture and cities depended.[3]

Then, a couple hundred years ago, our civilization started the industrial revolution and the unfettered burning of massive amounts of fossil fuels, carbon from previous geological Epochs that had been sequestered underground as coal and oil and gas.  As we have burned these fuels, we have released this carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) (and some carbon monoxide).

Let me emphasize this again:  The civilizations that have come into being since the beginning of the Holocene Epoch have been able to come into being because of the stable climates that have allowed water and agricultural resources to be harvested.

That is the history.  Now comes the science.

There are lots molecules that we humans are releasing into the atmosphere that are of concern in the science of global warming and climate change, for instance methane.  Carbon dioxide (CO2), however, stays in the atmosphere much longer than most of the molecules that are of major concern (like methane), so its impact is longer lasting.  So, I’m going to talk about CO2, but most of what I’m going to say about CO2 can be said about these other gases.

Since the dawn of civilization, the atmosphere has contained right around 275 parts per million (275ppm) of CO2.[4]  This number has been on the rise since the dawn of the industrial revolution, since the unfettered burning of fossil fuels began.  Millions of year’s worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, have been released and are being released into the atmosphere.  Right now the level of CO2 stands right around 390ppm.[5]

The problem with the rise of CO2 (and the other gases that I’m not talking about specifically) is that increased levels of them act like the glass enclosure of a green house, or the windshield in your car.  Park your car in the sun and the temperature inside rises because the sun’s energy warms the air inside and that heat can’t escape.  Park the earth in the sun with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the sun’s energy gets trapped.  The atmosphere and the oceans get warmer.  It not an exact analogy, but it’s good enough for a sermon.

Between the time of Jesus and the dawn of the industrial revolution, the average temperature around the globe was pretty steady, as best as scientist can reconstruct it.  But for the past 200 years, the average temperature around the globe has been on the rise.  And what is it called when the average temperature around the globe goes up?  Global warming.

So things on average are warmer around the globe.  What difference does that make?  Well, as I noted in my letter to the editor published in last Friday’s The Argus,[6] “Warmer air holds more moisture.  When this warmer, wetter air hits cold air, the moisture comes out as snow.  A warmer atmosphere is more energetic and this energy displays itself as severe weather (the snowstorms in the U.S. and the cyclones in Australia, for example).  The weather is doing exactly what the scientists have been warning us would happen.”

It’s okay to get more rain than usual – from time to time.  But when the amount of rain you get is consistently more than normal, “normal” has changed.  And when “normal” changes enough, the climate has changed.  And because civilization is build on the climates we’ve known since civilization has started, if the climates change, civilization as we’ve know it will have to change, too.

Civilization is based on climates that are based on an atmosphere with around 275ppm of CO2.  We’re now at around 390ppm of CO2.  Where, you may ask, is the red line?  How high can CO2 levels go and only cause weather havoc, but not cause climate change?  Two years ago, NASA scientists looked at the science – the chemistry and the physics – and said the red line is 350ppm.[7]  We crossed that line 23 years ago.[8]  And unchecked, our atmosphere will hold nearly 1000ppm of CO2 by century’s end.[9]

Friends, the bad news for today is that, even if we drastically reduce CO2 emissions, climates are going to change.  Climates are changing.  The question is, How severe will the change be and what will the consequences of that change be?

I don’t know the answer to this question.  Part of the reason is that we still have a chance to curtail CO2emissions and work to actually reduce the levels of CO2, thus hopefully minimizing how drastic the climate changes are.

And it’s worth doing because real danger of climate change boils down to this:  water and food.  As warmer air makes our dry habitats drier, deserts will expand.  Some regions that, with their old climate, got enough water each year not to be deserts, will become deserts.  I think about the dry-land farms in eastern Washington and wonder how much longer they will be able to produce wheat from their rich soils.  As warmer air dumps the greater moisture it holds, regions that used to experience catastrophic floods every one hundred or five hundred years will start experiencing catastrophic floods as the norm.  Mountain glaciers that provided year-round drinking and irrigation water to the plains and valleys below, will shrink and eventually disappear.  How will farmers grow food?  What will people drink?

When a region either has too little or too much water, the people will have to move.  If water shortages get severe enough, they will fight wars over it.

When a region can no longer produce food for people to eat, they will move.  And if food shortages get severe enough, they will fight wars over it.

Climate change will cause starvation.  Climate change will cause mass migrations of people across international borders.  And climate change will almost certainly cause war.  Starvation, mass exoduses, war – these are moral issues.  (See, I told you I’d get to the God stuff.)

The book of Deuteronomy is presented as Moses’ farewell address to the Hebrew people.[10]  He has led them through the wilderness and brought them to the edge of the promised land and, just before he dies, he invites them to remember what God has done for them, how God has lead them from slavery to freedom and made them a people of the covenant.

Moses reminds the Hebrews that there are decisions to be made about the way they conduct their lives. Much of the book is an iteration of the commandments, the rules that will be required of them in order to follow the covenant, the rules that will lead to life as they enter and live in the promised land.  And in today’s reading, we hear the culmination of the teaching of the writer of Deuteronomy.  It is a stark, clear choice.  It is a choice between life and death.

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”

For Moses and the Hebrews, renewing the covenant meant following God’s commandments so that they and their descendants might dwell in this promised land.  Today, for us, renewing our covenant with God means making choices so that all people might continue to dwell, and eat, and drink.

There are choices that we must each make, individually, to affirm life, to choose life.  Someone once defined “stewardship” as “everything you do after you say, ‘I believe.’”  Everything we do, as children of God and disciples of the Christ is an act of stewardship.  How we set our thermostats and what we eat for breakfast has repercussions for people who live in Bangladesh.  Whether we choose to drive or to take public transportation or to walk makes a difference to people in Samoa.

But the truth is that our individual choices alone are not enough.  We cannot recycle our way out of global climate change.  The individual choices we make – between life and death, blessing and curse – will not be enough to truly make a choice for life.  We need to make a society-wide choice for life and a global choice for life.

This will not be easy to accomplish.  42 percent of our neighbors do not believe that global warming and climate change is a serious problem.[11]  An author for The Economist website posits[12] five reasons why so many in America reject the science:

  • Psychological:  The consequences of climate change are too awful to contemplate, so they don’t.  They are in denial.
  • Economic:  Our economy is based on fossil fuel consumption and to change that would jeopardize the economy.
  • Political:  We’ve taken what is in reality a scientific [and I’d add moral] issue and made it into a politicalissue, and in an age of political polarization, our side (which ever it is) doesn’t want to lose.
  • Epistemological:  All we know is what scientists say, and scientists are sometimes wrong.  Right?  So we might as well doubt and do nothing.
  • Metaphysical:  [And I’ve actually heard a version of this one from a member of U.S. House of Representative.[13]]  God isn’t going to let millions of people die by allowing climates to change.

We need to wake our neighbors up from their denial.  We need to let them know that our economy survived a change away from a slave-based economy and it can survive a change away from a fossil fuel-based economy.[14]  We need to remind them that the laws of physics don’t care about politics.  We need to remind them that the scientists are in consensus about this.  And we need to remember that God lets millions of people die at human hands in wars, so there’s no reason to expect God to stop climate changes caused by humans.

Finally, I believe we need to embrace a New American Dream, one based on essentials and the things that really matter – like relationship and community.[15]  We need to pressure the politicians to reject politics (at least on this issue) and embrace the science and ACT!  You’ll have an opportunity to act during coffee hour. But the postcards you sign during coffee hour will not be enough.  This is the most important moral issue of our day.  It’s an issue of mass immigration, starvation, and war.

The events in Egypt these past few weeks give me hope however,  people in Egypt claiming their freedom (does that remind you of our scripture?) have given us a reminder of what a “real people’s movement – a massive, broad-based, honest movement that doesn’t focus on elites, but instead on the whole population – can”[16] do.  Hosni Mubarak trembled and ran away because the people rose.  “People don’t rise up often, but when they do their power is very real.”[17]  It is time for the people to rise up and demand real action on the part of our governments to reduce the impact of global climate change.

Today, I set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.

Amen.

ENDNOTES
1.  It was a comment made by a caller on the radio program Forum on KQED-FM, sometime in the past couple weeks.  I don’t remember which program or which date, but the comment stuck with me.
2.  Much more extensive discussions of this are available online.  For instance, you might want to check out “Geologic Time Scale” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_timescale and “Holocene” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene.
3.  Bill McKibben, Eaarth, (New York: Times Books, Henry Holt and Co, 2010), 1.
4.  “350 Science,” 350.orghttp://www.350.org/en/about/science (12 February 2011).
5.  Earth’s CO2 Home Pagehttp://co2now.org/ (12 February 2011).
6.  Jeffrey Spencer, “Global Warming,” The Argus, 11 February 2011, http://www.insidebayarea.com/argus/letterstotheeditor/ci_17353035 (12 February 2011).
7.  James Hansen, et al., Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim? http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.1126, submitted April 7, 2008.  NASA climate scientist James Hansen’s paper about the 350ppm target.
8.  Earth’s CO2 Home Pagehttp://co2now.org/ (12 February 2011).
9.  Bill McKibben, “Disobedience,” The Christian Century, 11 January 2011, p 10.
10. This exegesis is enhanced by the work of the Rev. Steve Copley, “Notes for Methodist Faith Leaders,” Interfaith Power and Light, http://interfaithpowerandlight.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Preach-In-RCL-Methodist.pdf (9 January 2011).
11. “E.G.” “Why can’t Americans believe in global warming?” The Economist, http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/02/climate_change (12 February 2011).
12. Ibid.
13. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL).  See “God won’t allow global warming, congressman seeking to head Energy Committee says,”The Raw Storyhttp://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/11/god-global-warming-congressman-energy/ (13 February 2011).
14. The argument went, our economy is based on slavery and, even though slavery is immoral, we can’t jeopardize the economy by ending it.  This idea was shared with me by a church member, John Hollowell, in an email to me dated 9 February 2011:  “I heard a great analogy about our country’s reluctance to get off fossil fuels from someone on the radio.  His observation was that the United States is making the same arguments for fossil fuels that were made for preservation of slavery in the 19th century.  i.e., sure we know that it is wrong, but our whole economy is based on fossil fuels (slavery) and we cannot survive without it.  Obviously we did survive.”
15.  There is an important website promoting a New American Dream:  http://www.newdream.org/.
16. Bill McKibben, “Inspired by the Egyptians,” Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/inspired-by-the-egyptians_b_822026.html (11 February 2011).
17. Ibid.

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