The subject of Climate Change is guaranteed to stir up strong emotions and certain to initiate a rousing, spirited conversation. Recently, treasured friends who are experts in the field of biochemistry and DNA research and also faithful followers of Jesus, sought feedback on an article that spoke in very blunt terms about people who struggle with scientific research in these areas. The article showed no restraint in castigating those who reject widely held scientific conclusions on these issues, labeling them as “idiots.” While I share the belief that there are numerous ecological issues that should concern every planetary citizen, I do not believe it is fair to broadly label people who express disagreement concerning the causal effects of these issues as ignorant or dumb. I believe we should be mindful that it is possible for one to agree that there is a need to better educate our citizens, pursue cleaner fuels, and care for our environment but also have questions about the causes of climate change and the best ways to address the problem.
It is not only important that people be allowed to ask questions concerning the data and conclusions of such issues but it is also appropriate for people to question the credibility of those who claim to be true believers in human induced climate change while their daily lives expose them as Carbon Sasquatches who feel that "the carbon footprint rules" apply to the rank and file of humanity but not to them as a privileged elite. These Carbon Sasquatches talk and write espousing lofty ideas but their true convictions are exposed by their lifestyles. It is this type of duplicity that causes people to ask, "If we're in such a dire position, why aren't all these folks talking about this stuff living out what they believe?” Such a gap between conviction and action allows for weeds of mistrust and suspicion to grow and damages credibility.
As a pastor, I am part of a profession which has become infamously noted for displaying hypocrisy. I am directly affected by any gaps between my preaching and my behavior. I am also affected by the gaps between the preaching and behavior of other ministers. It is that affectedness that makes me so passionate about the necessity of consistency between one's ideas and one's lifestyle in any area of expertise and especially concerning matters of common concern.
As one called to instruct others in engaging life’s tough issues, I offer this reminder - let us remember that Jesus came to engage a world filled with ugliness with complete grace and truth in His communication. If we graciously and truthfully present our convictions on matters of substance, it provides room for reasonable people to assess, process and adjust their opinions according to well-presented, insult-free facts. As we continue to discuss the care of our planet, let each of us be aware of our own “Carbon Sasquatch” hypocritical moments, and seek to represent our convictions in how we live, and to communicate those convictions with grace and truth.