May 12, 2014
There are certain words/phrases/concepts best left to news pundits and political candidates. Polite conversation among friends disallows controversy and conflict; some things are just better left on the air, rather than in the air.
Climate Change is one of society’s new four-letter words: drop the CC bomb in the wrong circles, and you may have your mouth washed out with eco-friendly soap. Raising the CC flag puts people into camps, immediately. Two lines in the sand: 1) is CC real, or contrived? and, 2) if it is real, who is responsible?
The history of Earth – and, the cycles of climate – has a longer horizon than the life of political movements. Turn the clock back almost three millennia, and there was a localized incident of Climate Change that was real – not imagined – that was triggered by something other than carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.
There were conflicts at the top of the power structure that, ultimately, trickled down to the local level. It had been about 60 years since the Promised Land had been fractured into two kingdoms: Israel, with 10 tribes in the north, and Judah, with two tribes in the south. In Israel, the seventh king – Omri – had ruled miserably for 12 years; his death brought his son, Ahab, to power. Ahab took a foreign wife – Jezebel, daughter of the king of Tyre – who brought idols as her dowry. For 22 years, this couple would rule Israel… and draw the wrath of the God of Israel, whom they had displaced with the idol gods Baal and Asherah.
The account in 1 Kings is easier to read than to experience: each administration brought Israel to new lows. Omri was worse than all who preceded him… and, then, his son Ahab achieved a new low, from God’s perspective.
Things had reached a boiling point when God sent Elijah – a virtual unknown – to deliver this stark message to Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1) What followed was three years of absolute drought; which, in a nation whose economy was based on agriculture, meant severe depression and marketplace chaos.
During the drought, Elijah was out-of-country, while Ahab tried to keep the upper hand. His message was clear: Elijah was the cause of the country’s calamity. After three years, a summit was convened: “Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’ ‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals…’” (1 Kings 18:16-18)
Their climate had changed; their national security and serenity were in crisis without fresh water. Any study of cause/effect – commissioned by the king and queen – delivered a faulty conclusion: it was the result of the confrontation between the traditional positions held by Elijah and his ilk and the more enlightened, tolerant embrace of foreign influences brought into a nation that had been established on a common faith in the One True God.
It’s worth reading the rest of 1 Kings 18. The public contest was arranged between the popular, sanctioned majority – represented by the 850 priests of Baal and Asherah, supported by the palace – and the dedicated minority – Elijah was the face of the conservative position, but there were 100 prophets of Jehovah who had been hidden and protected by a palace double-agent named Obadiah (see 1 Kings 18:2-4). They were dying without water, but the contest to prove power would call down fire from heaven, to consume a meat offering on a stone altar. The winner: it’s Jehovah God, in a rout.
It’s really dry, out here in California. The severe weather map seems to be spread over America like a tablecloth on a picnic table. Modern power players are stringing up conservative voices on virtual gallows: commencement speakers, cable reality figures, aspiring political candidates all find themselves disavowed in the name of political correctness if they embrace some zany values based on the Bible.
I wonder: does God still communicate through the weather? In America in centuries past, drought brought people to church, to pray for God’s blessing from the skies. Are we counting on cap-and-trade instead of fast-and-pray to get us out of this mess?