I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love Bill McKibben. I’ve been dining on his amazing writing and enjoying his wit and insight for a few years. Recently, he’s been a little less guarded about his faith perspective, which has made for some even more interesting and occasionally scathing writing. Exhibit ‘A’ was unearthed by the ever-aware iPete, and is one of my favorite pieces. His very best book is Long Distance, though it is best read in the wintertime.
Most recently, I finished his skinny book The Comforting Whirlwind, which is adapted from a Sunday School class he taught for his Methodist church. On the back, I was amused to see the book’s category listed as ‘Environment/Spirituality’. Obviously intended to help the guy at B&N; know where to shelve it, and a weird hybrid, to be sure, but that’s what McKibben delivers. His reading of Job is dead-on: Job suffers hinom—‘without cause’—and his friends gather ‘round to berate him with perfect and heartless orthodoxy (such a reading is a rare find, and one that would undo most unhelpful ICU waiting room theologizing and triumphal blog comment preachiness, among other things). Further, his application of this ancient text to the current situation seems quite right. He adroitly holds our stiff-necked overdominioning of the world up against its dwindling resources and calls us out. If he’s a bit short on practicality, it’s because most of us are so very far from even beginning to face the issue. People of faith ought to be the first ones to see our decimation of the planet that’s been entrusted to us, instead of equipping our escape pods for the rapture.
Changing the situation is more than a little complicated, of course. Reversing the devastation we have wrought on the planet probably wouldn’t mean getting a hybrid, but a bike, for example. McKibben suggests that we need to stop thinking of how we can utilize the resources around us, and consider stewarding them, instead. But since most of us can’t really get there from here, it means endeavoring to make substantial, if incremental changes to our lives.
Which got me thinking this morning…
Most every day, I make sandwiches. More than a couple, actually. I generally lay out the slices of bread in matched pairs. Then, I hit ‘em all with mayonnaise, thwapping down a dollop on each slice before smoothing it out. Mustard comes next, then cheese, then meat. If the wife is around, I usually try to add something a little more creative. Now, when the mayo jar is fresh and full, those are some generous thwaps, indeed. But when the knife starts rattling around at the bottom of the jar, something interesting happens. I use less, and smooth it a little thinner. I might even use a little more mustard, or maybe put mayo on just one slice of bread and mustard on the other. So that by the time I get to the very bottom—as I did this morning—I’ve got only a tiny smear of mayo on one side, and a similar amount of mustard on the other, and both jars are sqeaky clean. At which point I generally go out and buy more mayonnaise and start making juicy sandwiches once again.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t really need mayonnaise. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with it (though it’s kind of fatty and full of cholesterol), but I just like it. It makes my sandwich slide down my throat, and gives it a little tangy taste. And The Wife and I have had some lean times, but I don’t think we’ve ever taken mayonnaise off the shopping list. We can always buy more, and they’ll just keep making it.
Or I might could learn to make my own, or switch over to mustard entirely, or just use nothing at all. Maybe I’ve got a problem with mayonnaise supply, or maybe I’m addicted to the stuff, or maybe I’m just a little short on creativity.