Saturday, July 21, 2007

God, Man, and Green at Yale

Weekly Standard: By Ernest Lefever

A HALF CENTURY AGO, William F. Buckley, Jr., created quite a stir when he published God and Man At Yale, bemoaning the junior status accorded the Almighty within its ivied walls. Today a new phenomenon is sweeping the Yale campus, especially at Yale Divinity School, where in the mid-1940s I studied theology and social ethics.

Yale has not escaped the many moods and causes dredged up by the countercultural zeitgeist. None has been more colorful, flamboyant, or intense than the current green revolution. This is dramatically manifest in the current issue of Reflections, the official quarterly of the Divinity School. It's theme and title is 'God's Green Earth: Creation, Faith, Crisis.' ...

I could go on and on, but this may be sufficient to suggest that Yale Divinity School is promoting a new Pantheism, the belief that "nature is God," a worldview popular in the eighteenth century and long held by many tribal peoples who are persuaded their god speaks to them through volcanoes, earthquakes, and lightening[sic].

Reading this version of Yale's new green creed, including it's[sic] veneration of all living things large and small, recalls a limerick I wrote two years ago:

I love all trees and buzzing bees
And great things like the Seven Seas.
Everything global
Makes me feel noble
But I still have a problem with fleas.

And, I dare say, with spelling, grammar, and cognizance of the real world.

Buckley, Lefever, and the Weekly Standard deserve one another (although I think Buckley can spell, unlike the other two). I'll take Yale.

And let me insert a plug for panentheism, somewhat distinct from pantheism.

Lefever's tiresome rant eventually finds its way to a discussion of nuclear energy, a subject I have discussed in previous postings. I actually share the view that consideration of nuclear alternatives for generating electricity should not be summarily dismissed. But Lefever's advocacy is smug and deceptive (the nuclear fuel cycle, both in early and late stages, is environmentally toxic, although in different ways than fossil fuels), and neglects a number of major challenges that must be addressed forthrightly (not least security in a time of terrorist threat, both at plant sites and along transportation routes).

G!d (immanent or transcendent, pantheist or panentheist) save us from the idiocies of those with whom we may, a little bit, on a very few issues, maybe, partially, agree.

No comments: