The Fire Next Time--Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Goddess [1]

"God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water but fire next time." -- American Negro Spiritual

"About 10 million residents of Bangladesh will lose their homes and means of sustenance because of the rising sea level, due to global warming, in the next few decades."-- Al Gore, "Earth in the Balance," 1992

"We are the cause of it, and nothing so severe has happened since the start of the Eocene, 55 million years ago, when the change was larger than that between the ice age and the 19th century and lasted for 200,000 years. Billions will die," writes James Lovelock. Human civilisation will be reduced to a "broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords", and the "plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot, where a few breeding couples will survive." "The Revenge of Gaia," 2006 

It's all our fault. We did it, we are responsible. In the nineteenth century, we were in charge and Nature bowed her trembling head beneath man's iron heel. We eradicated the passenger pigeon & the dodo & reduced the vast buffalo herds to almost nothing. We slaughtered mighty whales to make candles, killed great elephants to make billiard balls. and made bears into hats. 

The White Man's Burden [2] dropped on our heads like a cartload of bricks. We forced reluctant African Negroes to labor in our fields, imported the heathen Chinee to build our railroads on one end of the continent, and put Paddy to work on the other. We shoved Christianity down the throats of the "lesser breeds without the law," [3] colonized vast tracts of land without so much as a by-your-leave to the inhabitants, & through a combination of disease & simple murder exterminated most of the indigenous population of the Americas. 

We invented fire & perfected it into atomic doom. We polluted the water, we poisoned the air, we turned the earth into a garbage can. We squandered precious resources, we bred like flies, we ate up the fish & damaged the ozone layer & generally pissed in the soup. 
Well, we're sorry. We know better, now. We won't do it again, we promise. God wiped out the human race with a great flood for its sins and arrogance, sparing only one righteous man & his family, & we want to be on the next boat. 

Everything old is new again, & the Old Testament fire & brimstone has been reincarnated as Global Warming. No matter if it's true or not, it's true enough & sins against God's Laws have become sins against Mother Nature. We have traded a vengeful Sky God Father for an equally vengeful Earth Goddess Mother. It keeps us in the center of things. For good or ill, we are not peripheral, we count, the world revolves around us. It's still all unbridled egotism. 

Evangelical Christianity preached a fire and brimstone end for the unrepentant sinner, & Al Gore preaches a fire and brimstone fate for all of humanity, regardless of faith or the lack of it. It's the Great Awakening, [4] modern-style. 

[1] "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Jonathan Edwards, sermon preached on July 8, 1741, Enfield, Connecticut.
[2] "The White Man's Burden," 1899, Rudyard Kipling 
[3] "Recessional," 1897, Rudyard Kipling, 
[4] The Great Awakening was a period of heightened religious activity, primarily in the United Kingdom and its North American Colonies in the 1730s and 1740s.Mon,

31 Aug 2009


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