July 30, 2007
The Masters Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

    "Summertime, and the livin' is easy..." So goes the lyric from "Porgy & Bess;" Gershwin wrote those words in 1933 - during the Depression - as the centerpiece of the opera depicting African-American life in Charleston, in the same period. Over 2600 versions of the number have been recorded since then; the idea of an idyllic season when the action slows is fanciful, but...
    How "easy" is your "livin'" this summer? Are your "fish jumpin'?" Is your "cotton high?"  Truth is, there probably isn't much difference between July and January, unless you make it so.
    Summer's a great time for catching up on your reading. My book stack is pretty towering, always. Sorting through the selections is, for me, more daunting than doing a one-hour speed-read of the nonfiction content, to mine what may be there for me to steal/quote, in my own later writings. A recent submittal caught my eye...
    Alan Weisman - award-winning journalist from Harper's, NY Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, LA Times Magazine, NPR - has a book on the shelf that offers, finally, a viable solution to the hand-wringing problems exposed by my hero, Al Gore, in his Chicken Little effort, An Inconvenient Truth. (Featured in the July 9th edition of the Point of View) Al says we - modern-day humans - are messing up the planet - Earth - and making it a real mess for the next million generations. Weisman has the answer, in his just-published book, The World Without Us.
    Newsweek says it this way: "The Second Coming may be the most widely anticipated apocalypse ever, but it's far from the only version of the end times. Environmentalists have their own eschatology - a vision of a world not consumed by holy fire but returned to ecological balance by the removal of the most disruptive species in history... There's even a group trying to bring it about: the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, whose website calls on people to stop having children altogether..."
    Weisman's book portrays a future for Earth, enabled by the dismissal of mankind from the stage of history. Shoot us into space, kill us with a selective virus that eliminates only homo sapiens; choose your weapon... but, eliminate all of us ecological bad-guys, and, what then? After interviewing experts of nearly every discipline, Weisman paints a future in which the ultimate solution is to let the Earth take a break from supporting what we call "population," and let the biosphere breathe again...
    This modern-day meltdown may be the ultimate intellectual plateau, but it's no big surprise to the First Century Christian thought leaders. Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome said it this way: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:18-23)
    Creation is "groaning;" every discipline in science is confirming that we're not in a healthy, stable environment. What is the underlying problem? "Bondage to decay" is the language of Romans; "sin" is the bottom line. Whose fault is it? Blame Adam and Eve... and all of their grandkids, down to you and me...
    Solution? Save the people; then, save the planet. In that order. "The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:10-13)

Bob Shank

 


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