27 March 2008

Earth Hour

I must admit to a certain ambivalence about the forthcoming "Earth Hour" on saturday. Of course I recognize the need to conserve energy, but I find the overt soteriological language of the proponents off-putting: One hour to save Earth. And the Timmins Daily Press is not alone, as this google search indicates. Perhaps the National Post goes too far: Earth Hour's soft fascism. But Terry McCrann of Australia's Herald Sun points out the incongruity of turning out lights for an hour at a massive carbon-emitting ball in an airplane hangar. Even burning candles is not obviously a "carbon-neutral" activity.

It should be possible to have a sensible and stewardly approach to the physical environment without recourse to redemptive language and expectations. That Earth Hour comes less than a week after Easter in the western church calendar is ironic. Christians confess that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone. My own sense is that, if environmentalists do not recognize this truth, they will be forced to find a substitute to give their efforts meaning. For many the earth itself becomes a god and extinguishing the lights takes on salvific significance.

In the meantime we would do well to remind others of Jesus' outrageous claim: "I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

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