Monday, January 17, 2011

God vs Trees: A Confession

Okay, I was totally busted in the paper today.  I wrote a letter to the editor at the Record last Tuesday suggesting that one thing we hadn't considered in the whole giving-Bibles/Korans-to-every-grade-5-in-the-region issue was the number of trees destroyed to make all that paper.  But I used a quotation to further my argument from Revelations 7:3 about not hurting trees.  Truth be told, I knew I was taking the passage out of context.  The point of that bit of writing is that nothing bad will happen to the world (like the apocalypse or the second coming or what have you) until after God saves his loyal servants, not that we should be nice to the planet.

What was I thinking?  Well, I thought for those in the know, it would get a chuckle (if they knew that I knew, that is), and for those not, it might get a following.  The mere suggestion that it's right there in the Bible that we mustn't harm the trees might go a long long way towards their protection - maybe more than would happen from a more secular environmental approach.  Underhanded?  Perhaps.  I'm at a loss for what else can possibly influence people to care about the earth.

But the letter outing me sends the whole dialogue in a different direction.  First the writer suggests that if we get flyers we don't ask for which wastes paper, and the Bible's more valuable than flyers, then it's not a waste of paper to print off tons of copies of the Bible that people don't request.  In other words, since we get some things we don't want, then it should be acceptable to get other things of greater value that we also don't want.  That's two wrongs don't make a right.  I don't like flyers either, so that argument doesn't really convince me.  The Bible is definitely more valuable than flyers, but the question remains:  is it valuable enough to allow many trees to meet an untimely death for copies that might go untouched or get tossed when it can be easily read on-line in full with professional commentary to boot?

But a more interesting thing is how the letter is being interpreted.  Several people told me that there's a rebuttal in the paper that suggests that God is more important than trees.   If you read it carefully, it doesn't really say that.  But that's how it's being interpreted, and it certainly suggests that.  So which matters more:  what's actually said, or how it's understood by the people reading it?  Because the people who brought it to my attention seemed to miss the fact that I was being chastised for quoting out of context, but instead wanted to start a dialogue on which is more important, God or trees.

I'm leaning towards trees, myself, but can't it be both?  And, for some, isn't it the same thing anyway?

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