The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Counterculture Has Become the Culture

Our trip to the moral wilderness that is Massachusetts continues. Whenever I return to New England, if only for a short visit, I express my deepest thanks that Diane and I no longer live here. Now don't get me wrong; there are probably worse places. California comes to mind, but we don't go there too often. Because all four of our children (and our six grandchildren) live in the formerly great commonwealth of Massachusetts, we find ourselves up here every six months or so.

After reading the local newspapers and watching the local TV news, I've come to the conclusion that most of the folks up here are no longer practicing Christians, but have been converted to a form of neo-Paganism that centers on the worship of mother earth. Everyone seems so concerned about saving the earth from the inevitable destruction that humanity's very presence will bring about. It's the major topic covered by the media and apparently the primary concern of the state's politicians. And I suspect that the average New Englander spends more time performing green, earth-friendly tasks in a given week than he does going to church. Saving the earth, it would seem, is of more importance than saving one's soul.

I am confronted by evidence of this everywhere I go, even when involved in the most mundane of tasks. For example, the other day, while standing in the check-out line at a supermarket in North Andover, I overheard a remarkable conversation between the checker (a young lady in her early twenties) and the customer in front of me (a man probably in his late fifties). I'll try to duplicate it below. It took place as she bagged his groceries.

Man: "I'm surprised you're still using those plastic bags. They're illegal in a lot of states now."

Checker: "Yeah, I know. We shoulda got rid of them ten years ago. But it won't make no difference now. Too late. We've already destroyed the earth."

Man: "I hear ya. We've had a lot of stupid people running things for a long time. But they just wouldn't listen."

Checker: "Don't I know it. My father's an astronomer but I'm always arguing about this with him. He just doesn't get it...Or maybe he's an astrologer...I can't remember. Wait, astrologers study horoscopes. Yeah, he's an astronomer, kinda like a scientist. Actually astrology's pretty cool. I'm sure the stars and stuff affect our lives a lot."

Man: "You're right there. Hard to believe otherwise."

"OK. See ya."

One view of Mother Earth

The above is no exaggeration; if anything the reality was even more odd. And at the risk of sounding judgmental, let me add that the man wore his greying hair in a ponytail and sported a rather large diamond earring. This "look" has become a uniform of sorts among the aging countercultural set. In an apparent attempt to appear unconventional, they have actually accomplished the exact opposite. I'm never quite sure whether they want to project an image of the societal rebel or hope to land a job as an extra in the next sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. The young woman? She had more piercings than a shish kabob. But I am perhaps over-reacting and falling prey to stereotypical thinking. After all, I spent over 30 years in a Navy uniform. Forgive me.

The conversation, though, was telling. For many environmentalism has become the new religion, and for some it's all wrapped up in a kind of new age weirdness. Now, I certainly understand that all environmentalists are not wackos, but too many of the ones I meet seem to be. As opposed to the wackos, however, the most serious ones, the ones who set the agendas, are just leftists who latched onto a new cause after the collapse of international Marxism. Environmentalism offers a new and attractive means to attack representative government and the free market system. As with Marxism, the people and corporations are the enemy; only an enlightened government with the power to dictate to the people and control all business entities can save the earth.

People, you see, are the problem. Driving to my daughter's home this morning we tuned into a local radio talk show. The hosts were complaining about the large numbers of Canada Geese whose droppings have made school athletic fields and golf courses almost unusable. In response a caller said, "The problem isn't the geese. It's the people. There are too many of us." This, of course, is one of the same rationales used by the pro-abortion crowd: "It's OK. Your abortion will help save the earth from the plague of humanity."

Perhaps I'm wrong (although I doubt it), but I really believe the earth and its ecosystem are a lot tougher and more resilient than many believe. We should be good stewards and take care of our earthly home, but we should also trust that this planet on which God placed us has the capacity to support us now and for many years to come.

1 comment:

  1. After reading your post and being a young person still, I hope to be able to offer another view point of your experience.
    Whenever the pendulum of one generation sings to much to one side, an opposite or opposing force rises to counter. The generation before us introduced to many chemicals, pollution, destroying the natural balances. The younger generation sees this and senses the injustice, yet is forced to the extreme in the other direction.
    Its important to dialogue.
    If God can be reached through the search of truth beauty and goodness. Then these environmentalist even if extreme are sensing the goodness of created beauty, the goodness in proper stewardship of the resources given to us.

    Even in the bible there was an emphasis on spirituality in the environment that surrounds us, and also a spirituality of clean foods. Its not foreign to our Catholic tradition, just maybe the preceding generation.

    Every generation has faults, and each generation did not grow up in a vacuum. What they do and how they think is rooted in what they feel about everything they've experienced.