Your author recalls a time when reasonable people could disagree on all types of issues. Unfortunately, that period’s welcoming nature of diverse opinions has receded into vitriolic attacks on opponents’ intelligence, funding, research ethics, morality and religious faith.
Such is the case with this week’s media coverage of Katharine Jefferts Schori, the woman the Guardian labels a “presiding bishop of the Episcopal church and one of the most powerful women in Christianity.” The bishop explained her highly politicized view of both science and religion to the newspaper:
“It is in that sense much like the civil rights movement in this country where we are attending to the rights of all people and the rights of the earth to continue to be a flourishing place,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said in an interview with the Guardian. “It is certainly a moral issue in terms of the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable around the world already.”
In the same context, Jefferts Schori attached moral implications to climate denial, suggesting those who reject the underlying science of climate change were turning their backs on God’s gift of knowledge.
“Episcopalians understand the life of the mind is a gift of God and to deny the best of current knowledge is not using the gifts God has given you,” she said. “In that sense, yes, it could be understood as a moral issue.”
She went on: “I think it is a very blind position. I think it is a refusal to use the best of human knowledge, which is ultimately a gift of God.”
Where to begin when, as a climate-change skeptic and practicing man of faith, I find so much wildly offensive and patently wrong in the bishop’s assertions of her truth monopoly? I suppose the adult and charitable route would to begin by finding common ground, so here goes: I agree with Jefferts Schori when she voices her opposition to fossil fuel divestment.
The Episcopal church has also come under pressure to withdraw its fossil fuel holdings. A number of diocese are pressing for divestment, and will bring the issue to a vote at the church’s annual convention this summer.
Jefferts Schori opposes fossil fuel divestment. “If you divest you lose any direct ability to influence the course of a corporation’s behavior,” she said. “I think most pragmatists realise that we can’t close the spigot on the oil wells and close the coal mines immediately without some other energy source to shift to.”
Bravo! I couldn’t agree more! That out of the way, let’s return to Jefferts Schori’s prior (pardon the pun) comments on the religious nature of the climate-change cabal, which posits as settled science our planet is warming as a result of human activity and immediate, drastic economic measures must be implemented in order to avert impending catastrophe.
Perhaps from the ever-widening and increasingly impermeable bubble of progressively politicized science and religion, the correct path to a sustainable future is to demonize – literally – those with whom you disagree. To amend W.C. Fields’ famous quote for the theologically minded: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with Beelzebub.”
The presumption of goodwill requires your writer to state that the bishop is right-on-the-money when she expresses concern for the world’s poorest. Many of us share her concerns, and celebrate the reduction of world poverty by half in the past 20 years while noting we’re well on our way to lifting another billion people from poverty by 2030. These amazing developments are due in large part to plentiful and cheap fossil fuels, which are increasingly cleaner to burn and therefore healthier for people and the environment. This isn’t politicized, religious speculation about matters scientific but, to the truly knowledgeable, not only factual but closer to moral truth.