Paul Andersen: What would Jesus drive?
Jesus would drive a “Christler,” if he drove at all. I believe he would prefer riding a donkey as he did on his fateful commute into Jerusalem.
It is difficult to emulate the virtues of Jesus in matters of personal purity while living in a world that asks little of us other than to be faithful consumers and patriotic taxpayers.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the “living saint” who anointed Aspen with spiritual beatification in 1949, did not consider himself a Christian. He was, rather, a Universalist whose sacred connections with the divine were, like Christ, linked to the holistic embrace of all life.
Henry David Thoreau took universalism a step beyond when he was asked about loneliness at Walden Pond.
“How could I be lonely?” declared Thoreau. “Don’t we live in the Milky Way?”
We’re all Universalists if we recognize a personal connection to the universe. We are globalists when we recognize our belonging to what traditional Christians would term the forces of creation.
Today’s environmental saviors would buy a “Christler” if they could. Instead, they drive a Prius, a vehicle that ordains a convenient moral stance on the luxury of personal mobility.
I have a bumper sticker on my VW Jetta turbo diesel that boasts “50 miles per gallon.” Never mind that VW falsified emissions data and scandalized drivers like me who want to believe that our enlightened choices are benign and heaven-sent.
Now that climate change has become an everyday story on NPR and other national news cycles, each of us should reach for higher standards. Being informed, there’s no excuse. Stewarding the creation requires strong spiritual force and obeisance to the highest virtues we can manifest.
That’s why it seems counterintuitive that the Christian right isn’t righteously sanctifying the natural world as a representation of the divine. Rather than crusading for the environment, the fundamentalist base supporting Trump legitimizes his alpha male bravado for waging holy wars on any front that can be rationalized through the president’s self-deification.
Business leaders also take a pass, like the good folks at Johnson & Johnson who furthered the sacred gains of shareholders by fecklessly marketing talcum powder containing cancer agents to unsuspecting customers who used it on their babies.
If Christ were walking the Earth today, he would be arm-in-arm with the Swedish Joan of Arc, Greta Thunberg. He would be choking on tear gas on the front lines of protests against the mistreatment of immigrants. He would be up in arms over the perpetual growth of GNP that enables Wal-Mart and Amazon to rush products overnight to eager consumers craving the next wiz-bang gewgaw.
In our own backyard, the lands surrounding Aspen are festooned with private vacation hotels that stand vacant most of the year while sucking down 10 times the energy of an average home. Such eco-sacrilege is made fashionable by gross entitlements that make the college admissions scam seem like a misdemeanor.
Forgive me, readers, for wading into despair, but it’s impossible to deny human complicity in the mass extinction of more than a million species. Hope is hard to hold onto in a society that encourages the habituation of material desires while unfulfilled souls lose faith in the valueless void.
Never mind how many solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower plants, recycling centers and electric cars are brought online. Species are being dispatched with a finality symbolic of cutting off the tree branch upon which the human race is precariously perched.
If Christ were alive today he would be decrying the sacrifice of creation and condemning the money changers in the temple of God, which is the earth and the oceans and the atmosphere and all that makes up the precious web of life.
Some think the answer is colonizing Mars or the moon, recklessly expanding the deadly realm of human destruction far into the solar system where we can become the vile aliens of science fiction horror.
Our successors will be left staring at the ruined statue of Ozymandias, “king of kings,” or at the arm of the Statue of Liberty reaching out of the sands of time. What would Jesus drive if he vacationed in Aspen?
Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.