Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It’s a Religion—Naturally!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
—1st Amendment to the Constitution (1791)

I don’t like my religion being made fun off, and I certainly don’t want to be persecuted for worshiping differently than others.

I celebrate Christmas, Easter, family birthdays, and Christ’s divinity every time I attend Church. I even celebrated the Phillies’ 1980 and 2008 World Series victories.

But I don’t celebrate Earth Day.

I guess it stems from my upbringing. I’m a product of people who grew up during the Great Depression, and matured during World War II.

That sculptured their value system. They wasted nothing. Threw very little away. They certainly reused everything they could. They did it out of necessity and common sense. It wasn’t called recycling in those days. It was called “scrapping,” and it was a trait they insisted their children practice.

Once a week we would load up our wagons with old newspapers and take them to the scrapyard. At less than a penny a pound, it still added up to serious spending money.

Milk was consumed from bottles, and the empties were refilled and reused. Ditto soda bottles—another great source of revenue for us kids. Two cents for every 12-ounce bottle returned, and a whopping nickel for a quart bottle.

Aside from bottles and paper, we recycled rags, metal (lead and copper were particularly profitable), and of course, clothing.

Shoes were re-soled and re-heeled when they wore down. (The poorer kids’ fathers would reverse the heels on his family’s shoes, so when one side was worn down, you could then get similar wear out of the other side.)

Perhaps the most virulent philosophy adopted by that WW II generation was the emphatic resolution that their children should never have to go through what they had. Consequently, their kids were given more education, more privilege, more opportunity, more money, more license.

America’s evolution into a “throw-away” society didn’t begin in earnest until the 1960s, when teens everywhere tried to throw away everything their parents’ generation had held to be precious—especially their value system, and that system was deeply rooted in the Western tradition of Christian religious principles.

Recently, the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia had to announce the closing of some schools. I just believe that was in large measure caused by a re-directing of adoration.

Where their parents and grandparents adored a resurrected savior, many of the post-WW II children today direct their adoration toward Mother Nature—for some, the only true deity. And that goddess is placed on a plane well above saints, angels, and certainly above a historical carpenter from the Holy Land.

You can see this preference in the elevation of animals to the level of a human being (higher by some organizations), and in the defacto demonization of anything that does not adhere to the precepts of the church of naturalism.

And make no mistake; naturalism is a church, every bit as much as is Lutheranism, Catholicism, or Judaism. The tree supplants the crucifix and the Star of David as their concrete symbol of professed principles. It’s a wonder the ACLU hasn’t figured this out yet.

What irritates most of all is the presumptuous attitude of this congregation. Isn’t this the generation that loaded up our landfills with disposable diapers? Plastic water bottles? Designer sneakers?

Their predecessors washed cloth diapers, drank from glass bottles, and their sneakers were so worn down when they were replaced, there was scant material left for the landfill.

Now naturalists moan about “my planet,” and celebrate special days to illustrate how much they care, and—what’s more annoying—how much those who do not fall into lockstep with their commandments, don’t care.

I don’t maliciously pollute this world; never did.

I don’t waste resources; could never afford to.

I don’t like the idea of knocking down woods to build more condos and strip malls; never made much sense to me, especially when established malls remain partially empty.

But I don’t need a “day” to celebrate the fact that the sensible thing to do is not to be wasteful, clean up after myself, and enjoy more of the great outdoors and less of the great lineup on cable.

As a kid, when I lived in the inner city, we played ball on the street. When I lived in the suburbs, we spent our days exploring the woods, and usually there was a dog or two on safari with us.

We may not have venerated trees, but we knew their worth. There was nothing like sitting in the shade of a big old weeping willow during a warm summer afternoon. We didn’t need a “day” to convince us that this earth was something we should hold on to.

We worshiped neither our pets nor the landscape, but treated both with respect. We didn’t do it so we could be categorized as “green.” It wasn’t our religion; it was just how we were raised. It was our value system.

It’s a shame that the people who started to reject those values 50 years ago now think it’s obligatory to tell their kids that a special day is compulsory to reinforce what was second nature to their ancestors. And they do so with a dangerously sanctimonious zeal.

Disagree with their mandates and they assail with the fervor of a 21st century Torquemada. (How many Earth Day organizers will tell their young charges about one of their religion’s founders: Ira Einhorn—the activist who claimed to have started Earth Day in the early 1970s. Einhorn murdered his girlfriend (not, reportedly, over Earth Day), stuffed her body in a trunk, and then ran away to avoid prosecution in 1981. He is now serving a life sentence for murder.)

I intend to worship the God of my faith. You can worship whatever god you wish. Our individual right is guaranteed constitutionally.

There is, however, no law (yet) against having a sense of humor. So I can only ask that you not make light of the way I attend church on Sunday.

And I’ll try not to laugh when you venerate a tree.

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