Extremists misrepresent religious teachings in denying climate change

Every time I travel down Highway 1 between Calgary and Regina, which I fully admit is not often these days, I can still remember travelling from Montreal to Saskatchewan, only to turn off in Maple Creek, where the first thing I noticed about the town where I was to teach for the next year was the billboard off the main highway describing itself: Population – 2,300; Houses of Worship -24, none of which included representation of persons ascribing to the Buddhist or Islamic faiths.

My numbers may be off a tad, but not by much, I assure you; blame the differential upon the increasing failure of my aging brain, or on my being an NDP supporter; however, in so doing, trust me, you’re definitely not going to get the point I’ll be trying to make in the next few paragraphs, to which some people will again try to point out that some of the reasoning I use in describing what I oppose just “doesn’t make any sense.”

Maple Creek’s religious identity was well represented by the good old-fashioned variety of houses of prayer, including Catholic, United, Anglican, Hutterite, Orthodox, Lutheran and Baptist, but there were a few tossed in for good measure that I had no idea as to their existence, such as the Plymouth Brethren, Church of God, Alliance, Salvation Army (two chapters), Full Gospel, Jehovah Witnesses and the Christian Faith.

The cynical side of me imagined that many had found their beginning when the first  settlers from Europe who’d come this far west to escape religious persecution saw on the horizon some 50 km further west the creation of but another of our many tempestuous weather fronts laden with ominous dark clouds, lightning and a funnel cloud just starting to be formed over this front having them believing they’d already missed the opportunity to sit at God’s right hand, but after surviving that onslaught decided to create still another brand of interpreting our Biblical teachings, just to keep their hopes up in He not having already decided who were to be His “chosen ones”.

The town’s population mimicked the portrayal I’d received when first seeing that billboard entering town. For those practising “old style religion”, being seen on the ninth hole in the town’s more-than-adequate golf course on Saturdays or early Sunday mornings differentiated their “belief” in Christianity leading to a pathway of wealth and power where having a “home” consisted not of an acreage or quarter-section of farmland, but townships where grazing cattle survived on sparse grasslands others in the world would call deserts, and anyone having settled in town after World War II were referred to as “newcomers”, no matter how many of their relatives had died during that era of Canadian history.

A second group of believers, the “Book Flap Generation”, proselytized God’s word on the basis of what they’d read in Genesis and Revelations on any given morning, still not aware that in constructing the first Bible according to God’s teaching Revelations wasn’t even considered to have relative context with the teaching of Jesus. A third group, replenishing its membership in lock step with the number of teens it would lose annually to road kill found on the way into Alberta following a “beer run”, content only in the knowledge that local bars only stocked their favourite brands, and that “mixers” were merely more concentrated versions of sodas referred to as “bourbon”, “rye” or “whiskey”.

Fortunately, the high school was far more eclectic in terms of its mixture of students versus those who weren’t, those who still knew the difference in political voice between Mississippi, Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan itself, and those who’d already analyzed Woodstock for its meaning to their future, and still found themselves totally lost in a world where they were already beginning to hate their parents’ reticence to contribute normalcy to their confused lives, much less the realization that the world around them was changing rapidly, but their elders were so wrapped up in themselves that they were failing to notice this very fact.

What pleased me the most, however, was the fact that almost without exception these kids craved knowledge, something often denied them by even their own parents or school administrators. I can still remember the conversations I used to have with one of my Grade 12 Physics 30 female students, started when I “dumbly” asked “why” she hadn’t included a course in Biology in her class itinerary, little realizing that as the daughter of a couple ascribing to the Plymouth Brethren faith, their unwillingness to address the teachings of Darwinism meant that her answer was almost contemptibly simple in its utterance, although she diplomatically refrained from suggesting my ignorance of their faith’s tenets reflected such disdain.

Even today, however, I wonder how this young woman, who along with three other “sisters” of her religious beliefs could suddenly find life “normal” once married a year later to someone from the Caribbean whom she’d never met prior to taking that class would fare, given that their own 90+ average in the subject and part of a group in the school that would pull off the highest provincial average score to that date in the history of composite schools in Saskatchewan, and with their capacity to improve upon this learning pathway being deprived of further exploration by their keen minds.

And so it goes. As the years follow this timeline, we as teachers and our children find ourselves being resisted in efforts to maintain a deeper standard for allowing these soon-to-be adults to seek answers to the questions we’ll never be allowed to ask, even in the Section C of what are supposed to be the “problem solving” opportunities of our lesson plans. In today’s classroom, even with a Master’s degree in the teaching of my subject and having assisted in the creation of published materials, there is always some superintendent questioning my reason for introducing alternative pathways to learn the materials. It makes me wonder how my former Director in Maple Creek would feel after having first shown him (accidentally) how to interpret statistical results, how he would have felt knowing that in instructing that brilliant group of students in Physics 30. I’d suggested that they’d understand the materials far better were we to spend the first three weeks of class familiarizing ourselves with the creation of equations used to calculate the paths of conic sections, as well as introductory understanding of differential and integral Calculus.

No, were I still under the age of 16, as a “child” I would begin to be seriously concerned as to how this next generation of parents are hindering our ability to learn, much less practice the art of survival their depriving me of knowledge, sexual, scientific or historical understanding, particularly with regard to the need to reach across the divide our politicians are creating for us, in order to allow me some capacity to be able to “teach” my own future generation.

If you examine the platform agenda for the various parties, you can immediately spot the items politicians don’t want you to fully comprehend, including what’s happening to our Earth in terms of climate change and our economic future, particularly when it pertains the creation of the energy resources we will require in order to further progress in the enhancement of our lives.

My cynical nature has no real boundaries save to note that the floods during Noah’s time were not the result of climate change, but rather in God’s disgust with the manner in which his “superior” creations, mankind, were destroying the blessings he’ bestowed in the Earth’s creation, and wanted a “do-over”.

Climate change is doing just that for us; the problem is, we’re still too insufficiently “evolved” so as to intellectually recognize what is happening, and to what consequence.

And here endeth the sermon…